Resumes, CVs, Cover Letters, & Thank You Notes
Resumes & CVs
Resumes and CVs are an important aspect of a successful job search and will often determine whether you will receive a call for an interview.
A general resume can be submitted for any position but we recommend you arrange your information so it is targeted to a particular job or industry. Some industries prefer information presented in a specific format, so you should research the job, company, or industry before you begin writing your resume.
To help you get started, here are examples and checklists:
Cover letters should be customized for each position to which you are applying, using the job description and the information you have collected about the company as a guide for how to draft your letter.
There are four main sections of a cover letter: Salutation, Introduction, Body, and Closing:
Salutation: Addressing the Right Contact
Although many internships and job postings do not list a contact name, it is very important that you try to identify the specific individual to whom you should address your cover letter. Unless the posting indicates “No Phone Calls Please” you should phone the company, explain the purpose of your call, and ask for the name and title of the hiring manager.
If you are unable to contact the company directly you can conduct a Google or LinkedIn search, or ask your family and friends if they know anyone at the organization who can help you uncover the hiring manager’s information.
As a last resort, if you are unable to confirm the name of the hiring manager, you can use address your letter simply to “Hiring Manager.”
Introduction: State the Purpose of the Letter
- Your introduction must state both the purpose of your letter and grab the attention of the reader.
- State the specific position for which you are applying, or identify the field in which you are seeking employment.
- Grab the reader’s attention by stating achievements that the reader would find interesting or by mentioning a mutual acquaintance’s or friend’s name if appropriate.
Body: Express Interest and Sell Yourself
- Express your motivation for applying or inquiring.
- State your compatibility with the company/job description without simply rehashing your resume.
- Give specifics about what interests you in the job/organization and show how your experiences and skills fit the qualifications requested.
- Identify two or three of your “key selling points” that are related to the opening or organization and that set you apart from other candidates.
Closing: Express Intentions and Thanks
- State when you will make contact concerning an interview.
- Include your phone number and email address.
- Thank the reader for their time and interest.
- Close with “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” or “Respectfully.”
- Include “Enclosure” or “Attachment” at the bottom if you are sending any other information, such as your resume.
Thank You Notes
A thank you note or email is an essential component of the interview process, whether for a job or internship, graduate school interview, or even an informational interview. This simple gesture can speak volumes about your interest and your appreciation for the opportunity to interview. As a job candidate, you should view the thank you note as yet another opportunity to show an interviewer what a great fit you would be with their organization or program.
The traditional thank you note takes the form of a handwritten letter, but the modern form is through email. If your handwriting is legible, then this gesture can add a touch of personalization to your correspondence. If your handwriting is poor, however, a typed letter is perfectly acceptable. Select neutral paper or note cards, such as white or cream, and avoid colored paper and cutesy graphics or greetings.
Ultimately, you may want to make your decision on what method to use based on how formally your interview was conducted. If your first impression felt strictly formal, then a typed letter may be more appropriate; if the atmosphere was more informal, a hand-written note or email may work better.
It is important to email a thank you note to the interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. Many applicant decisions or second-round interviews will be made quickly; emailing a thank you note will reaffirm your interest in the position.
- Ask for your interviewers’ business cards, or write down the interviewers’ titles and the proper spelling of their names before leaving the interview site.
- Be sure to write and send your note within 48 hours of the meeting (or within 24 hours after an on-campus interview).
- Remember to be genuine when writing a thank you note. Keep handwritten notes/letters to one page or less and emails to around three to four paragraphs.
- If multiple people interviewed you, send a personalized thank you letter to each and mention something specific you discussed with them. Be sure to include some key points that you believe the employer should remember about you.
- Conclude the thank you note by reiterating how interested you are in the position/program and why.
- Regardless of the correspondence method chosen, spelling, grammar, and punctuation matter. Proofread carefully!