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Career Planning



Resume and Cover Letter

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MCC Career Central

MCC Career Central enhances how employment information is shared and processed both within the college and between students and employers.  Explore MCC Career Central and learn more about its unique features.



Resume

The resume is an essential tool for any job search.  Your resume’s job is to move you to the next step in the job-search process—the interview.  Although a lot of time, effort, and thought has gone into trying to crack the secret, there is no “perfect” resume.  There are some general guidelines however, that everyone should follow:

  • Your resume should be skills and results based.
  • Use action verbs to describe your qualifications and accomplishments.
  • Don’t write your resume in the first person.
  • Your resume should be one to two pages.
  • Tailor your resume to the position to which you are applying.
  • Proofread your resume and ask a professional to proofread it too.  You should not have any typographical or grammatical errors.
  • Have accurate information on your resume.
  • List references on a separate page.
  • Don’t include unrelated personal information (photo, marital status, social security number) on your resume.
  • Employment history should include five to ten years of employment, unless what you did 12-15 years previously relates to the position to which you are applying.

Cover Letter

Your cover letter is an important piece of the application process.  The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself to the employer.  It also gives you the chance to show a little bit of your personality, passion, and interest in the company.  It also allows the employer to see your written communication abilities and attention to detail. 

  • Your cover letter should be one page that is clearly written and gives a precise message to enhance your resume.
  • It should be well written without any typographical or grammatical errors and correct business format.
  • Ask yourself, what is the reader learning from my letter?
  • Your cover letter should include three sections:
    • 1st paragraph – the position for which you are applying, and something about the organization and why you are interested in working for them.
    • 2nd paragraph – why you are the qualified candidate by matching some of your qualifications or education to the job description.
    • 3rd paragraph – closing statement, using a few sentences about your career goal and how this company fits within that path. Politely ask for the interview and thank the reader for his time. 

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Resume Categories

CURRENT INFORMATION

Name, address, and phone number should always be included at the top of the page. An employer will not know how to contact you if you do not provide this information. Leave phone numbers where you can be contacted, or a number that is connected to an answering machine. Employers will only call back so many times, so make sure that others who answer your phone are taking messages, and make sure you return any calls promptly.

It is against the law for employers to base hiring decisions on age, height, weight, marital status, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or anything that relates to your personal lifestyle. A photograph is unnecessary and is illegal for an employer to request prior to employment unless it is somehow job-related. DO NOT INCLUDE ANY INFORMATION THAT IS NOT JOB RELATED IN YOUR RESUME.

JOB OBJECTIVE

Make a concise, positive statement about the type of work you are seeking. Include the exact job title if you know it, but do not guess. The objective is sometimes used as a screening device. If you apply for a job that does not exist, your resume can be eliminated. Make the objective meaningful. Everything else in the resume should support and reflect what is said in the objective. Be specific and to the point. Broad objective are often misinterpreted and come across as saying nothing. If you have several different job objectives, you should have several different resumes.

EDUCATION

List the highest level of formal education first: institution, major/minor, degree earned, GPA (if 3.0 or above) followed by all other levels of education (not including high school). If you are a new graduate or completer with little practical experience, the section on education should appear at the beginning of your resume. You may also list special course work related to the job objective. As you gain more experience, your academic credentials generally will become less important than employment.

WORK HISTORY

When describing work experience, explain more than just the job title and company name. Be specific about responsibilities, achievements, accomplishments, and promotions. Cite experiences that relate to the job you are seeking. As with the education section, list jobs in reverse chronological order if you are doing a chronological resume. Be sure to include dates of employment, month and year are sufficient. There is no need to list the address and phone number of past employers.

For each job listed, describe:

  • Duties: tasks performed, emphasizing those requiring the highest degree of skill and judgment. Each task phrase should begin with a strong action verb like those listed on the following pages. Indicate specialization and duties beyond your regular assignment.
  • Scope of responsibility: Did you hold a supervisory position? How many people did you supervise? Describe the position.
  • Accomplishments/Achievements: Outline any outstanding results achieved. Give specific examples, figures, or percentages where possible, rather than writing "in general." How did you demonstrate initiative, make improvements, save time/money, or increase business?
  • Volunteer work, internships, practicum experience can also be included.

SPECIAL SKILLS/FOREIGN LANGUAGE

These should be highlighted in a special section, if you possess these skills. This would include such items as computer skills, operation of business machines, and fluency in a foreign language.

OTHER PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION

The following areas can become separate categories if your background mandates this sort of distinction. Employers often look for this kind of information, especially as your experience increases. For entry-level positions, employers very often make decisions based on a student’s leadership roles in college.

  • Licenses, certifications currently held
  • Honors, scholarships, award, fellowships earned
  • Professional organizations memberships and offices held
  • Publications
  • Affiliations with civic and community groups
  • Extracurricular activities/leadership roles

REFERENCES

The best way to list references is to list names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers on a separate sheet. You may state "References available upon request," but this is unnecessary since providing references is a normal part of the job search.

Make sure each of your references has agreed in ADVANCE to serve as a reference. Keep in touch with your references. Provide them with a copy of your resume, and let them know what skills and goals you are sharing with potential employers so they can verify. Utilize professors, supervisors, or co-workers as references. Employers prefer people who can give specific reference to your work performance.

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WHY DO I NEED A RESUME?

It is essential to understand the importance of a resume in your job search process. Your resume is a marketing tool--not a personnel document. The primary thing to understand is that a resume will not result in a job; it is a key to help you get a job interview. When well written, your resume may generate enough interest to make an employer want to meet you. For those jobs, which mandate good written communication skills, your resume and cover letter serve as your first sample. A good resume is about the job hunter, not about the job hunter’s work history. A good resume focuses on the future, not on the past. A good resume focuses on achievements and accomplishments, not on job descriptions. A good resume documents and prioritizes skills the hunter enjoys using, not abilities they used in the past just because they had to. Choose your words very carefully! Your resume can create an impressive "first impression" and is an important introduction to who you are.

Your resume should highlight:

  • What you are seeking

  • The essential skills that you possess that will allow you to perform the essential functions of the job

  • Your accomplishments, described with action words, and telling how you achieved the accomplishment

  • The positions that you’ve held, where, and when

  • Background training or education

Resume Tips

  1. Your objective should relate to both the type of position you are seeking and the skills that you have that would interest a company.

  2. The information in your resume should be relevant, support your job or career objective, or support your character in general. If you have no definite purpose for including something, leave it out.

  3. Weigh your words carefully. Select concrete nouns and strong action verbs. Use concise phrases and clauses rather than complete sentences.

  4. Let someone who knows you well and will be objective in his or her opinion review your resume.

  5. Keep references on a separate sheet of paper in the same font, with the same heading as your resume, and on the same type of paper, and make them available upon request.

  6. Remember that your resume is a door opener to get you a personal interview.

  7. You should always send a cover letter on matching paper with specific reference to the company’s need and your qualifications for the job. A personal letter is always best, so make an effort to get the name and the title of the individual making the hiring decision.

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RESUME DO'S AND DON'TS

 

DO

  • DO use action verbs to begin statements

  • DO use clear and concise wording

  • DO reinforce points with facts and figures

  • DO be truthful

  • DO emphasize your assets

  • DO have others critique your resume

  • DO plan to write and re-write several times

  • DO use high quality paper (24 lb. bond paper) and laser printer

  • DO choose the format/style that is best for you

DON'T

  • DON’T use paragraph style or lengthy explanations

  • DON’T use "I" statements

  • DON’T abbreviate words or use acronyms

  • DON’T put in personal information (marital status, age, health)

  • DON’T include a picture

  • DON’T cram too much information into a small space

  • DON’T have any typographical errors or grammatical mistakes

  • DON’T include irrelevant information (non-job related or very old information)

  • DON’T include references on your resume

  • DON’T include salary information

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RESUME STYLES AND FORMATS

Your resume should reflect the best of what you have to offer an employer. The "you" that you are trying to present is shown by the style and format you choose along with the color and weight of the paper your resume is printed on. Make sure that your resume margins are balanced on either side and top and bottom. You may want to leave enough space around the information on your resume to create a border. The information should not appear to be overcrowded, nor should it be too spread apart. The font that you select can make a big difference in the appearance of your resume. Try several fonts to see which has the look that best describes "you."

Many companies are now looking for "scannable" resumes. They scan the resumes into their computer systems and get rid of the original hard copy. A scannable resume maximizes the computer’s ability to "read" your resume. Resumes are also often faxed, copied, and passed along to others who may serve on a selection committee. Some tips for maximizing scannability are:

  • Use white or light-colored 8 1/2 x 11 paper, printed on one side only.

  • Provide a laser printed original if possible. A typewritten original or a high quality photocopy is O.K. Avoid dot matrix print-ours and low quality copies.
  • Do not fold or staple.

  • Use standard fonts such as Helvetica, Futura, Optima, Univers, Times, Palatino, New Century Schoolbook, and Courier.

  • Use a font size of 10-14 points. (Avoid Times 10 point.)

  • Don’t condense spacing between letters.

  • Use boldface and/or all capital letters for section headings ONLY if the letter don’t touch each other.

  • Avoid fancy treatments such as italics, underline, shadows, and reverses.

  • Avoid vertical and horizontal lines, graphics, and boxes.

You may want to have two versions of your resume: One for the computer to read (with a scannable format and detailed information--send this one,) AND one for people to read (with a more creative layout, enhanced typography, and summarized information--carry this one to the interview.)

Many people encourage the use of different paper and fonts to make your resume stand out from the rest, but what your resume says is far more important than how it looks. Make the content of your resume stand out.

There are several formats available to use on your resume:

A CHRONOLOGICAL resume lists your positions in reverse order, most recent first. It highlights accomplishments within each position. The advantage of the chronological resume is that it presents your background in a straight-forward, easy-to-read manner. This format is a good choice when you want to call attention to a very stable work history; you want to call attention to consistent upward mobility and promotions in your chosen career; you are applying for a job in a very conservative field; or you think your next employer would be more comfortable with a traditional resume.

A FUNCTIONAL resume focuses on your accomplishments in each functional or technical area. This type of resume is a good choice when you are making a career change; when your past job titles don’t do justice to your accomplishments or responsibilities; when you want to focus on skills useful to the future job, rather than on past job content; when the best and most impressive accomplishments are not from the most recent jobs; or the most impressive skills came out of volunteer work. This type of resume is particularly useful when completing your education or changing career fields.

A COMBINATION resume utilizes the best of both types of formats listed above. It is useful if you have a long work history you wish to highlight along with allowing you to summarize your career history.

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CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME SAMPLE

Your name

Your street address

Your City, State, Zip code

Phone:

Youremail@Address.com

Objective
To effectively market your skills and interests in an effort to obtain a job interview.

    Summary of Qualifications
  • Number of years experience in the field or line of work in which you want to work.

  • Relevant credentials or training or education.

  • An accomplishment that directly relates to your objective.

  • A quality or characteristic of yours that supports this goal.

Education
Name of the Institution/School, City & State, degree or classes taken that might be of interest to an employer, honors and awards received while in school.

Experience

January 1997-Present  Company Name, City, State

Job Title
· An accomplishment/job responsibility that was held at the job listed above. (This should be your current or most recent job.)

· An additional accomplishment/job responsibility that was held at the job listed above.



May 1993- December 1996  


Company Name, City, State

Job Title
· An accomplishment/job responsibility that was held at the job listed above. (This should be the job held prior to your current job.)

· An additional accomplishment/job responsibility that was held at the job listed above.



May 1989 - April 1993


Company Name, City, State

Job Title

· An accomplishment/job responsibility that was held at the job listed above.

· An additional accomplishment/job responsibility that was held at the job listed above.

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FUNCTIONAL RESUME SAMPLE

Your name

Your street address

Your City, State, Zip code

Phone:

Youremail@Address.com

Objective
To effectively market your skills and interests in an effort to obtain a job interview.

    Summary of Qualifications
  • Number of years experience in the field or line of work in which you want to work.

  • Relevant credentials or training or education.

  • An accomplishment that directly relates to your objective.

  • A quality or characteristic of yours that supports this goal.

Education
Name of the Institution/School, City & State, degree or classes taken that might be of interest to an employer, honors and awards received while in school.

Work Experience

    One Major Skill (that is directly related to your career objective listed.)
  • An accomplishment that shows this skill.

  • Another accomplishment that shows this skill

    Another Major Skill (that is directly related to your career objective listed.)
  • An accomplishment that serves as an example of this skill.

  • Another accomplishment that serves as an example of this skill

    A Third Major Skill (that is directly related to your career objective listed.)
  • An accomplishment that serves as an example of this skill.

  • Another accomplishment that serves as an example of this skill

    A Special Knowledge Area
  • A list of equipment (computer programs, etc.) or processes you are familiar with that is relevant to jobs in this area.

  • A list of courses or training you have taken that show you are familiar with this area.

Work History

January 1997-Present  Job Title, Company Name, City, State

May 1993- December 1996   Job Title, Company Name, City, State

May 1989 - April 1993 Job Title, Company Name, City, State

Last Modified: 6/15/16