WCSU Covid-19 Information Fall 2021

Career Success Center

Resume/Cover Letter Checklist

COVER LETTER AND RESUME CHECKLIST

Use a job description (or relevant aspirational job description) to direct your unique resume

Formatting

  • Borders are even and spaced ½ to 1-inch on all sides
  • Format for Applicant Tracking System (ATS): Arial, Tahoma or Calibri font and no lines; minimize caps/bold/italics
  • Main sections should be 10-12 pt. font size; dates are in same month/day format
  • Only include information for no more than 12 – 15 years so you do not risk looking old and outdated
  • Confirm hashes between all dates are formatted uniformly
  • Must be completely error free: check for grammar/typos
  • Do not use pronouns in a résumé; in cover letters you can

Header/Contact Information

  • Name includes first and last name; All CAPS; 14-16 font and bold such as JANE DOE and not Jane Doe
  • Format is clear, spaced, and neat; address is current; email address is professional looking; use Gmail accounts for email addresses ONLY
  • Phone number is a direct line, formatted like (203) 123-1234; ensure answering message is professional sounding and there is no music playing at any time
  • LinkedIn profile address is added and customized as some version of your full name; no numbers or miscellaneous letters should be included

Profile/Summary Statement

  • Goes directly above the Education (or Experience) section
  • Brief; written in bullets or short concise phrases; no sentences and no periods after any bullet point
  • Must give a short/concise snapshot of your experience and skills/qualifications that match the job description; each job is different so each résumé you send out should be customized for the position in which you are applying
  • Do not list subjective opinions such as “Detailed-Oriented,” or “Hard Working,” etc.: Must have examples to list for the skills or attributes you say you have
  • Included most relevant technical skills in this section and not at the bottom of the page
  • Include the impact or what you have improved; what distinguishes you from everyone else?
  • Add Languages spoken/written; software knowledge, qualifying if relevant

Education

  • If you are a student and have no relevant experience, place Education directly under your Profile/Summary
  • Spell out degrees and include major/minor, grad date (use “anticipated” if not yet graduated)

                    Example:

                         Your School, Town, CT

                         Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology; Minor in Writing

                         Anticipated date of graduation: May 20XX

                         GPA 3.7/4.0

  • Do not include information related to high school or community college
  • If GPA is above 3.0 include it; Do NOT include GPA if it is less than 3.0; Do not forget to include the scale in which it is calculated: GPA 3.7/4.0
  • List upper level coursework and international study if relevant; Do not list introductory courses or Level I & II courses that everyone takes because it is not optimal use of space
  • List honors received upon graduation, if any: “Magna Cum Laude”
  • Include certifications or 3rd party training achievements

Experience

  • All entries are in reverse chronological order
  • Each entry must include company’s name and city/state but no zip code; Include commas after company names if the town and state directly follow
  • Bullet format: begin with powerful verb + brief description of work accomplished + impact/result/why
  • Each bullet is concise description of activity and achievement; include most impactful career skills; Do NOT include menial job functions such as: “Open and closed,” “Filled orders,” “Organized shelves,” etc. You MUST include what it was you accomplished while doing the job or task you had at hand

Clubs, Organizations, Professional Affiliations, Volunteer, Sports, etc.

  •  Add if relevant and supportive of skills helpful to job to which you are applying
  •  List offices/leadership held within organizations
  •  This section is not required if there is no space available for it on the page

Other Miscellaneous 

  •  Use consistent verb tense: If experience was in the past, use past-tense
  • Exclude irrelevant personal information
  • Spell out acronyms and abbreviations that are not universally known; spell out words like “Rd.,” “St.” Blvd.,” etc.
  • Check punctuation usage; appropriate use of capitalization; no periods at end of phrases/bullets
  • Do not put your references or other people’s names on your résumé
  • Do not add “References available upon request” at the end of your résumé
  • Should be no longer than two pages, max; If there is a second page, the information on the second page must meet the half-way mark of the second page. If not, you must condense the info on the second page back to one page

Use this equation for help in creating bullet points

ACTION VERB + SKILL/TASK + IMPACT/RESULT YOU HAD = BULLETED PHRASE

SAMPLE

JANE SMITH

Street, Town, State ZIP • Jane.Smith@gmail.com • (555) 123-4567
www.linkedin.com/in/customized-name-url

SUMMARY 

  • Information Technology technician with three years of help desk experience and superior attention to detail
  • Certified in technology systems support
  • Fluent in Spanish

TECHNICAL SKILLS

  • Excellent proficiency in Microsoft Office Applications: Word, PowerPoint, Excel
  • Canva, WordPress

EDUCATION

Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT Anticipated graduation: May 20xx
Bachelor of (Arts/Science/Fine Arts) Degree in _________; Minor(s) in ______
GPA: 3.5/4.0 (only include if 3.5 or above)

EXPERIENCE

Employer #1, Town, State

Title of position, Month  20xx - Present

  • 3-5 relevant bullet points that reference experience and skills sought for the position to which you are applying AND Why/Your impact  
  • Past tense action verb + What function/skill you did/used + Why you did it/how it impacted the company
  • Ex. Created a newsletter to better inform customers of products and services offered, yielding a sales increase of 10% 

Employer #2, Town, State

Title of position, June 20XX - August 20XX

  • 3-5 relevant bullet points that reference experience and skills sought for the position to which you are applying AND Why/Your impact  
  • Past tense action verb + What function/skill you did/used + Why you did it/how it impacted the company
  • Ex. Assessed client needs during intake to determine relevant resources and expedite referral process for counselors

Employer #3, Town, State

Title of position, September 20XX - May 20XX

  • 3-5 relevant bullet points that reference experience and skills sought for the position to which you are applying AND Why/Your impact  
  • Past tense action verb + What function/skill you did/used + Why you did it/how it impacted the company

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

WCSU Information Systems Society: Vice President, Month 20XX - Present

  • Coordinated four career events for members

Want more information to help craft your perfect resume? Check out our career resource guide!

Tips for Developing Adaptability

-  Change your thought process

-  Force yourself to take risks

-  Encourage others to be open minded

-  Embrace learning 

BEST PRACTICE #10: HOLD NEW-HIRE PANELS.

New-hire panels are one of the best ways to showcase an organization to interns as a great place to work. These are panels of five or six people who were hired as new grads within the last three years. They act as panelists in a meeting of interns, giving a brief summary of their background and then answering questions from the intern audience. Your interns get insight about your organization from your new hires—people who they perceive are like themselves and who they consequently view as credible sources of information.

In these meetings, I’ve found that the interns consistently bring up the same topics: Why did you choose this employer over others? What was your first year like? How is being a full-time employee here different from being an intern? Do you recommend getting a graduate degree? In the same field, or an M.B.A.? Is it better to go straight to graduate school after the bachelor’s or better to work a while?

It’s also fairly consistent that the new hires will offer other types of advice to your interns, such as how to handle finances those first couple of years out of school. (Their typical advice: Don’t run right out and buy a new car, and, Start contributing the maximum to your savings plan as soon as you are allowed.)

College relations staff should attend these sessions, but should remain unobtrusive, staying in the back of the room so as not to stifle the conversation. By being there, you stay aware of what is on the minds of your target group, and you can answer any detailed questions that may come up, such as those related to benefits.

BEST PRACTICE #11: BRING IN SPEAKERS FROM YOUR COMPANY’S EXECUTIVE RANKS.

One of the greatest advantages to students in having internships is the access they get to accomplished professionals in their field. Consequently, speakers from the executive ranks are very popular with students—it’s a great career development and role modeling experience for interns. Having a CEO speak is especially impressive. Best scenario: Your CEO speaker is personable, willing to answer questions, and willing and able to spend a little informal time with the students after speaking—your interns will be quite impressed.

For you, having your executives speak to interns is another way to “sell” your organization to the interns, and get your executives invested in (and supporting) your program.

BEST PRACTICE #12: OFFER TRAINING/ENCOURAGE OUTSIDE CLASSES.

Providing students with access to in-house training—both in work-skills-related areas, such as a computer language, and in general skills areas, such as time management—is a tangible way to show students you are interested in their development.

You may also want to consider providing interns with information about nearby community colleges: Many students will be interested in attending during their work term to take care of some electives and/or get a little ahead with the hours they need to graduate. If you have the budget, you may also want to consider paying the tuition for courses they take while working for you, but, as is the case with housing, any assistance you can provide—even if it’s just providing them with information about local schools—will earn you points with students.

BEST PRACTICE #13: CONDUCT FOCUS GROUPS/SURVEYS.

Conducting focus groups and feedback surveys with these representatives of your target group is a great way to see your organization as the students see it. Focus groups in particular can yield information about what your competitors are doing that students find appealing.

BEST PRACTICE #14: SHOWCASE INTERN WORK THROUGH PRESENTATIONS/EXPO.

Students work very hard at completing their work and are generally proud of their accomplishments. Setting up a venue for them to do presentations (formal presentations or in a fair-type setting such as an expo) not only allows them to demonstrate their achievements, but also showcases the internship program to all employees.

BEST PRACTICE #15: CONDUCT EXIT INTERVIEWS.

Whether face-to-face or over the telephone, a real-time exit interview done by a member of the college relations team is an excellent way to gather feedback on the student’s experience and to assess their interest in coming back. Having the students fill out an exit survey and bring it to the interview gives some structure to the conversation.

BEST PRACTICE #2: HOLD ORIENTATIONS FOR ALL INVOLVED

It’s important that everyone “be on the same page,” so to speak. Make this happen by holding an orientation session for managers and mentors as well as a session for students. Orientations ensure that everyone starts with the same expectations and role definitions. This is time well spent—the effort you put into these sessions will pay off throughout the program.

BEST PRACTICE #3: PROVIDE INTERNS WITH A HANDBOOK AND/OR WEBSITE.

Whether in paper booklet format, or presented as a special section on your website, a handbook serves as a guide for students, answering frequently asked questions and communicating the “rules” in a warm and welcoming way.

A separate intern website serves many of the purposes of the handbook, but has the advantage of being easy to change. You can use your website as a communication tool, with announcements from the college relations staff or even articles of interest written by the interns themselves.

BEST PRACTICE #4: PROVIDE HOUSING AND RELOCATION ASSISTANCE.

Few employers can afford to provide fully paid housing for interns, but you’ll find that you get a lot of appreciation if you offer any kind of assistance toward housing expenses. If that’s not possible, provide assistance in locating affordable housing: For those relocating to the job site, the prospect of finding affordable, short-term housing can be daunting. Easy availability of affordable housing will make your opportunity more attractive to students, broadening your pool of candidates.

If you can pay for all or some of your interns’ housing, be sure to design (and stick to) a clear policy detailing who is eligible. This will eliminate any perceptions of unequal treatment. In addition, be aware that employer-paid or employer-subsidized housing is considered a taxable benefit. Check with your internal tax department on exceptions to this.

You will also want to consider the issue of relocation, which is separate although related to housing. Many organizations pay some or all of their interns’ relocation expenses to and/or from the job site.

BEST PRACTICE #5: OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS.

Pairing a scholarship with your internship is a great way to recruit for your internship program—and this is especially true if you are having difficulty attracting a particular type of student or student with a specific skill set to your program. Attaching a scholarship can increase your pool of candidates with the desired qualifications.

BEST PRACTICE #6: OFFER FLEX-TIME AND/OR OTHER UNUSUAL WORK ARRANGEMENTS

Students mention flex-time as one of their most-desired features in a job. (A flexible time schedule during their internship eases their transition to the workplace.)

If you think about how students spend the day on campus (varied schedule each day, with varied activities such as work, class, social time), you can understand that 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday is a bit of an adjustment for them. A flexible schedule can make them feel less chained in by an unchanging routine.

Other work arrangements that have been found successful with students include keeping them on as part-time, remote employees after they go back to school (depending on the type of work they do for you and whether they have a willing manager), and having them come back and work over school breaks for a couple of weeks. These are excellent ways to keep communications open and build a stronger bond.

BEST PRACTICE #7: HAVE AN INTERN MANAGER.

Having a dedicated manager for your intern program is the best way to ensure that it runs smoothly and stays focused on your criteria for success. Unfortunately, the size and resources available to most internship programs mean that this isn’t always possible. If your program isn’t big enough to warrant a dedicated full-time staff member, an excellent short-term solution is to hire a graduate student (look for a student working toward an advanced HR degree) to be your intern, and put this college relations intern in charge of the daily operation of the internship program. This gives the interns a “go-to” person, and gives you and your staff a break from the many daily tasks involved in running a program of any size. For this to work, you have to plan the program structure in advance (don’t expect your intern to do it), and be very accessible to your college relations intern

BEST PRACTICE #8: ENCOURAGE TEAM INVOLVEMENT

Involve your college recruiting teams—whether they are “volunteers” who participate in college recruiting, staff members dedicated to college recruiting, or some combination of both—in your intern program. They can sponsor social or professional development events, and help to orient the interns to your company culture. In my experience, college team members served as cooks at intern picnics, hosts at speaker events, and drivers for social outings such as ball games.

BEST PRACTICE #9: INVITE CAREER CENTER STAFF AND FACULTY TO VISIT INTERNS ON SITE.

Although some programs—especially those that are very structured on the university side—make visits by career center staff and faculty a regular practice, most do not. In general, career center staff and faculty members have relatively few opportunities to visit employer work sites to see firsthand the types of experiences that their students are getting. By inviting them to your site, you will build a better working relationship with these groups, which can lead to more student referrals, enhanced campus visibility, and increased flexibility on their parts when your business needs dictate it.

BEST PRACTICE #1: PROVIDE INTERNS WITH REAL WORK ASSIGNMENTS.

Providing interns with real work is number one to ensuring your program’s success. Interns should be doing work related to their major, that is challenging, that is recognized by the organization as valuable, and that fills the entire work term.

You can guarantee that hiring managers provide real work assignments by checking job descriptions, emphasizing the importance of real work assignments during a manager/mentor orientation sessions, and communicating with interns frequently throughout the work term to determine who they perceive what they are doing.

 

Don't try to change what can't be changed...you can REFRAME!

(HINT, you have to work with, not change, gravity)

 

 

Consider your views on the world

Reflect on what work is and what it means to you

What dysfunctional thoughts can be reframed?

What's the life challenge/opportunity we want to solve and/or learn more about?

 

Take some personal assessments 

Evaluate your current work/play/love/health

Open up meaningful discussions with your family and friends

 

 

 

 

Create some future Life Sketches; do real brainstorming and think up lots and lots and lots of ideas

More = Better

 

 

Narrow your testing options, build some ideas, select some ideas, and plan the quick/cheap/easy prototype

Ask a lot of questions

 

 

Get into some real work, try stuff, reflect on what works for you and refine your next steps to designing a better life

 

 

 

 

Keep moving forwarding and just do stuff. ​
Turn your ideas into action.  ​
The Career Success Center has lots of ​custom ideas for you. ​

 

 

Ask lots of questions, ​research your options, ​be active in class, ​follow interesting organizations​ and people​

 

 

 

Life and the career process ​is not just one or two things-​it is a process.

Turn bumps in the road ​into learning opportunities. ​

 

 

You live, eat, work, study with others, ​so they all are a part of your life. ​
They have lots of ideas, experience, and contacts, and ​should be a part of your life design​

 

 

 

Learn different ways to look ​at things to get unstuck​

 

 

Get Prepared!

The Career Center is available for drop-ins from 10am – 5pm Mondays through Fridays, but our online resources and tools are available 24/7. 

Our online resources cover comprehensive guides and advice for resumes, cover letters, interviews, finding jobs & internships, building professional competencies, and creating a network. 

Start your career journey by clicking on one of the six buttons below!

Share with us how the Career Success Center has helped you on your career path at careersuccess@wcsu.edu or in person in our office.