A critical aspect of your professional presence, your resume is a document that articulates and markets your professional skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer. Your resume should change to meet requirements of different positions and should be updated as you gain experiences. Ultimately, your finished document should help you stand out from other applicants.
Before uploading your resume to Handshake or sending it to an employer, check your document against this checklist to make sure you’ve included everything and are following best practices. For a list of action verbs to help generate ideas for descriptive bullet points, click here.
Now that you’ve written a first draft, get your resume critiqued! An online resume critique through Handshake provides general feedback on formatting and basic best practices. Meeting a counselor in person via appointment or drop-in provides you with specific feedback tailored to your goals.
An important aspect of your professional presence, your cover letter is an opportunity to communicate your unique qualifications to an employer for a specific position. When starting your document, reflect on these questions:
- “What are the key skills/qualifications listed in the job description?” Highlight those you have.
- “Why this employer/why this position?” Communicate excitement and interest.
- "Why me? What makes me stand out?” Provide examples.
The answers to these questions should connect the dots between what an employer is seeking and your experiences.
Avoid including a generic cover letter with your application and make sure you are not repeating your resume word for word. Make every attempt to obtain personal contact information and position title for a specific individual within the organization to whom you can address your letter.
To get you started, take a look at the samples below and review the Guide to Writing Cover Letters for detailed explanation of best practices.
Note: cover letters uploaded to Handshake are automatically approved without a review. If you want your cover letter reviewed by a counselor, bring your cover letter and a job description to Drop-In Hours or schedule an in-person, phone, or Skype appointment by logging into Handshake.
Follow Up Tips
An email or telephone call following a job application or interview is an opportunity to reiterate your level of interest in the position while demonstrating professional communication skills. Communicating with the hiring manager demonstrates your understanding of the importance of timely follow-through, and may help your resume reach the top of the pile. Read on to learn about smart moves to make after submitting your application.