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Resume and Cover Letter Writing Tips

Purpose: The main purpose of the resume is to get you into an interview.
 
 Basic information: name, address, email, telephone number(s), fax number, etc. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT THIS INFORAMTION IS CORRECT. ALSO, IF YOU GIVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS MAKE SURE YOU CHECK IT ON A REGULAR BASIS, AT LEAST ONCE PER DAY. IF YOU GIVE A TELEPHONE NUMBER, MAKE SURE A RESPONSIBLE PERSON TAKES A MESSAGE. Even though you give this information, it is very important that you follow-up. DO NOT WAIT FOR THEM TO CALL! Also, if you have an obnoxious or inappropriate email address like hotmama@yahoo.com you may want get another one.
 
 
 Should I do it or have a “professional” do it? I suggest that you do at least the first draft. Among other things, it gives you a good chance to review your accomplishments for the interview. You will probably be impressed with what you have accomplished.
 
 
 It MUST BE PERFECT. No typos, misspellings or grammatical mistakes. One of the biggest complaints among employers is the lack of communication skills. This is an opportunity to show off your communications skills with a well-written, concise resume.
 
 
 ONE PAGE. I suggest that you start with several pages and then trim it down to one page.
 
 
 The most important stuff (most impressive) should appear closer to the top of the page.
 
 
 Put your best foot forward. Do not lie, but do not volunteer negative information.
 
 
 What style should I use? Whatever style makes you look the best. For example, if you have a lot of gaps in your work history that are difficult to explain, do NOT use the chronological style.
 
 
 Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes. For example, try to anticipate questions that might arise in their minds.
 
 
 Whenever possible you should use positive words like: confident, self-starter, problem identifier, problem solver, decision maker, etc.
 
 
 Work experience: If you are applying to an internship position, it is very understandable that you do not have an extensive work history. But do not omit work history; even if it is was not a technical job. For example: If you had a job “flipping burgers” last summer, but you did it well, showing up for work on time every day, being awarded employee of the month, or perhaps even showing some initiative (finding a more efficient way of flipping burgers) that would look good on this resume. In work experiences you should make it clear what your responsibilities were. Be specific. “Managed a purchasing budget of three thousand dollars”, “ Supervised six people.” etc.
 
 
 Academic record.
 If your GPA is above 3.0, this should be in on your resume.
 If you have won any awards in college or high school they should be listed.
 Dean’s list
 Scholarships
 Lyon’ club student of the month
 etc.
 
 Courses:
 Do not simply list course numbers! (Physics 150, Math 211, etc.) Give descriptive name (Electronics, Calculus, etc) For this internship resume you may want to list the grade you received in the course if it is a B or higher. If you made the top 1,2,or 3 grade in the class you can also mention this.
 Skills: Give this one a lot of thought! You probably have skills you are not aware of. Be specific when possible. Rather than saying “ familiar with milling machines”, say “certified machinist.” Always list any certifications licenses, military training, etc. Again, be specific. Make it as clear as possible exactly what your level of skill is.
 
 Technical skills: drafting, electronics test and measurement equipment, soldering, wire wrapping, machining, hand tools, technical writing (lab reports), wet chemistry skills if you have had chemistry, etc.
 
 
 Computer related skills: computer aided design (CAD), LabVIEW, C programming, other programming languages, Operating systems: Unix, Lynx, etc. Electronics Design Software like PSPICE, other computer packages, like MathCAD, etc. Computer networking like Novel for example. DO NOT LIST (unless you have experience that goes far beyond the standard experience): Windows operating system, word processors, and other standard office software packages.
 
 
 Analytical skills: These can probably be deduced from what math courses you have taken but do not forget things like; error analysis (laboratory), computer simulations, specific analytical skills from the math methods courses like special functions, and complex analysis.
 
 
 Other skills: particularly if you can give specific examples. Interpersonal skills, multilingual, real world experiences, time management skills, etc.
 
 
 Go to the employer side of this web site to see what skills we tell employers you may have.
 http://physics.csusb.edu/~intern/usher/emp.htm#_Benefits_to_the
 Clubs: Participation in clubs is good to include on your resume, particularly if you served in a leadership role (President, vice president, etc. of Society of Physics Students for example.) It shows, among other things that you have initiative to do things, even when not required. You should include the dates of involvement.
 
 Hobbies: If included at all, it should be near the bottom (unimportant) of your resume. You may want to include things like mechanical tinkering, or member of the American Radio Relay League. Remember, this is a professional resume; so including personal information may not be advisable. This may open the door for what would otherwise be inappropriate questions during the interview. For example, if you were to say something like, “strongly committed to my seven children”. The interviewer may feel justified in follow up on this and asking how your future job may fit in with this commitment.
 
 
 
 References: It is standard practice to end the resume with the “References available upon request.” Make sure you have your references lined up so you can quickly respond to a reference request. You should make sure your references are ready and willing to give you a strong reference. Some organizations/companies will simply want to contact the references by telephone. Others may want a formal, letter of recommendation. Some letters of recommendation are confidential and sent directly to the organization/company or delivered by the applicant in a sealed envelope. Others are less formal. It is a good idea to have letters of recommendation with you when you go to interview, unless of course they are confidential letters of recommendation. In any case you should have a typed list of references with you when you go to interview. References should be professional references, not personal references.
 
 
 Reference lists should include:
 References full name and title(s)
 Position in organization
 Work Address
 Work telephone number
 email address
 context in which they knew you (supervisor, professor, etc.)
 how long they knew you
 You should ask your physics faculty advisor to review the resume for content.
 
 You should ask the CSUSB career development center to review it for style and format. You can call them at 880-5250 about their walk-in resume critique times. They are located in University Hall, Room 329. Their web site is http://career.csusb.edu/. The center also offers many other services and I STRONGLY recommend that you go by and see them.
 
 
 
 COVER LETTER
 The resume should be accompanied by a cover letter.
 To Whom It May Concern: Address your letter to a specific person if at all possible!
 
 The cover letter should be concise. Again, one page.
 
 
 The cover letter should be perfect. Here grammar is more important than in the resume.
 
 
 Make it very clear which job or internship position you are applying for.
 
 
 You can think of the cover letter as a marketing tool about themselves and an advertisement of their specific abilities. Also, you can look at the position description for key skills the employer is looking for that you can highlight about yourself.
 
 
 Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes. Try to anticipate questions that might arise in their minds. For example, if you have a “foreign sounding” name, you may want to convince the reviewer that you have an excellent command of the English language.
 
 
 It is ok to drop names. If you meet the president of the company and she suggested that you send in a resume YOU SHOULD CERTAINLY MENTION THIS. If you know someone else or if there is a former CSUSB graduate working for the organization you can mention his or her name. Warn them first though before you do.
 
 
 In the cover letter you should also make it clear that you are familiar with the organization and what it is that they do. Point out to them what you can bring to the position. “ What can you do for them?”
 
 
 The cover letter is also a great place to use all those passive words like; confident, self-starter, problem identifier, problem solver, decision maker, etc.
 
 
 In the cover letter you should let them know that you will be following up. Following up in one week should be good. You may actually want to check with a secretary much sooner to make sure the resume was received.
 
 
 
 WHERE, WHEN AND HOW TO USE THE RESUME
 
 
 Now that you have a quality resume you should use it.
 
 
 Mail submission: Make sure your cover letter is signed with an original signature. If the organization you are submitting to is one of your top choices, you may want to send it express mail. It gives added recognition.
 
 
 Electronic submission. When electronically submitting your resume I suggest that that you submit it in generic formats. The resume and cover letter and resume should appear as plain text in the body of the email. Also include, as an attachment a PDF version of both and/or a HTML version of both. Make it clear in the body of the text what format the attachments are in. Most modern word processors will automatically generate PDF and HTML versions. You should also send a hard copy by mail. Some organizations/companies may be reluctant to open email attachments for fear of being infected by a computer virus.
 
 
 Fax submission. You should follow-up fax submissions with a telephone call to make sure it is received. Again, you should mail a hard copy. The quality of a fax submission is highly dependent on the quality of the receiving fax machine. Your pretty resume may come out looking horrible. Therefore, it is very important that you mail a hard copy.
 
 
 You should bring copies of your resume with you to the interview.


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