- Your professional resume is a representation of you – a summary of your education, skills and experiences for your targeted audience.
- A resume is a living document – it should change with you and your goals.
- Generally, not longer than one page, until you have several years of professional experience.
- Start with a basic resume.
- Once you have an industry, job or set of skills in mind to highlight, a targeted resume is best.
The Resume Guide (view as PDF) is a great place to start. Identify a sample resume that you like, and start drafting your own information into a Word document (avoid resume templates as they can be difficult to edit).
Cover Letters & Correspondence
Cover letters and exploratory emails are the two primary types of correspondence you will use when applying for jobs and internships. While a cover letter is expected when applying for a specific position, an exploratory email is used when you are reaching out to an organization to inquire about potential opportunities, especially for informal career-related experiences. For details, see the Cover Letter and Correspondence Guide (PDF).
- Use an exploratory email when seeking internship, volunteer, or shadowing opportunities that are not listed.
- The major difference between exploratory and networking emails is your request at the end of the email. A networking email is a request for a conversation, while an exploratory email is a CRE inquiry.
- An excellent exploratory email:
- Articulates skills, interests, and experiences
- Demonstrates knowledge of the organization
- Inquires about the possibility of a career-related experience
- An excellent cover letter is personalized and targeted to the employer and the job. Never try to use a template, it will be obvious.
- Be sure that you are targeting your letter to the specific job, not just the company.
- Use business format (includes dates, address, and is formal in tone) even in an email.
- Establish “fit” in the 1st paragraph of the letter: What makes you a good fit for this company?
- Relay how your skills and experiences will benefit the employer.
- Ask for an interview at the close of the letter.
The purpose of a networking outreach email is to request an informational interview, either from someone who is already in your network or from a new contact. You are more likely to get a positive response if you follow the guidelines below.
- Have a subject line that will catch the person’s attention (for example – says “Hamilton” for alums, says name of person who referred you, etc.)
- Introduce yourself with relevant details that help the reader understand what stage of career planning/searching you are in.
- Explain why you have chosen him/her to reach out to and state your goal for the meeting.
- Specifically ask for a meeting and be clear about how you wish to meet (in person, by phone or Skype) and provide your general availability.
- Keep it short (one paragraph).
- Be professional (no “love language”, no typos, use appropriate salutation: Dear Mr., Mrs. Dr. etc.)
For a detailed overview of the process of setting up informational interviews, refer to Steps and Tips for Informational Interviewing.
- A sincere and well-written thank-you note (or email) sent within 24 hours of your interview can set you apart from your competition.
- Thank you notes are generally brief, and should thank the interviewer for their time, refer to something specific about the interview, and reiterate your interest in the position.
- Send an email, a hand-written thank you note, or both. If you have been corresponding with the employer via email, then email is an acceptable way to send a thank you. Hand-written notes may capture attention, but be sure to send it right away.