Resumé & cover letter guide

Resumé & Cover Letter Guide

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A resume serves as your introduction to a prospective employer; whose main objective is to gain you an interview. It is a marketing document whose main purpose is to spark interest in you because of your experience, accomplishments and skills. The information in your resume may also form the basis for the interviewer's questions when you are selected for consideration. A resume's format, grammar, and spelling carry utmost importance, since most employers will not actually thoroughly read your resume, and will only glance through it looking for certain attributes that would make you a suitable candidate for them. Remember that this document represents you - show yourself at your very best!

Practical Advice on Resume Writing
Here you will find selected short points that will help you build your resume:

1. A one-page resume is crucial.
You should aim for the one-page resume in order to get the attention of the reader. At your levels, it is appropriate to have a one-page resume, but professionals with more than 8 years of experience or working in a specialized industry may have a two-page resume. But remember that with a longer resume, chances are that only the first page will be glanced at, so a one page is always safer!

2. You have only 20-30 seconds!
The upper part of your resume receives the biggest attention. Sometimes it is good to state your objectives just below your personal details, but it depends on the purpose of the resume. Since you are currently a student getting your MBA diplomas, the education section should be listed before work experience, in reverse chronological order.
Use bullet points for your main achievements, especially measurable ones, under your work experience - this will catch the attention and make it easier for the reader to follow the text. Ask several people to check it, your career advisor as well as several colleagues or seniors at the school. Get their opinion!

3. Market yourself!
You should create a layout that increases the readability of your resume. Try to experiment with different fonts and styles, but keep your resume professional! Because everyone's resume looks different, it is a very personal document, so be sure to make sure it is clean, organized, and well written.

4. Do not describe responsibilities, show your accomplishments!
Although your job description is part of the resume, it should not be the focus of your resume. Employers are looking for successful track records and signs for future success. It is very important to show what you have achieved on each and every relevant position that you have held. Employers like figures that support your claims, provide them but be prepared to discuss them on an interview! Never write something in your resume that you can't back up!

5. There is no universal resume format that works for everyone!
You should develop a resume that features your strengths and hides your weaknesses. First, rearrange your accomplishments on a given position according to the company you are aiming for. If you are planning on specializing in Finance and you want to interview for consulting, investment banking and corporate finance positions. Design at least two different versions of your resume with different objectives, different job functions emphasized, etc. for each of these areas. Second, do not put your dates in the left margin if you have had a lot of short-term (one year or less) work experience. What is placed in the left margin is always emphasized. The prospective employer might get the impression that you do not have a long term vision of what your aim is or that you cannot cope with the specifics of the job and you get fired a lot.

6. Show what you have to offer!
In case you are changing careers, the so-called "professional summary" could help the reader to understand you in a broader aspect. This summary usually goes either in place of the objective or if you have one just under it.
We list you one such professional summary statement:
Nine years of progressively increasing responsibilities in marketing, including 4 years as a Brand Manager.
MBA in Finance; BA; Certified Financial Analyst.
Team player with effective combination of result-orientation and interpersonal skills Multi-lingual; fluent in French and Spanish

7. State your GMAT and GPA in case they are greater than 670/3.7
Some organizations may require one or both of these, but don't forget to always show the range, or list what percentage you had (ex. GMAT score: top 90%) Many of the consulting companies or banks require the candidate to state their university track record.

8. Provide references without being asked for them.You should try to have a reference page listing 2-3 references with the title, organization and the appropriate contact information. In case you do not have enough work experience try to list at least one faculty member. This however, should not be on you resume, but should serve as an additional document in case the prospective employer should show further interest in you.

What Employers Look For

When you are writing your resume, be sure to consider the reader's point of view.

Evaluate Your Resumé:

You should evaluate your resume from the point of view of the employer:

  • Layout - how professional have you made the resume; do you have your major points standing out?
  • First-glance appearance - is the document appealing to the reader; have you checked it for grammar mistakes?
  • Writing style - is the tone of your resume affirmative; do your accomplishments start with action verbs?
  • Accomplishments - have you listed your accomplishments according to your career goals; do you have the needed skills?
  • Special skills - do you have your languages listed; do you have all your special skills listed - computer programs (special statistical packages, etc.)?
  • Career objectives - have you stated clearly your career objectives?

Employers typically seek a range of skills and qualities from graduate applicants to determine how employable a candidate it. Some of the most commonly sought after are listed below.

  • Communication: Ability to communicate orally and written.
  • Team work: Working well with others, especially in an international environment.
  • Leadership: Being able to motivate and encourage others, and people management.
  • Initiative: Ability to identify opportunities and to set and achieve goals.
  • Problem solving: Thinking things through in a logical and creative way in order to determine key issues.
  • Flexibility: Ability to handle changes and adapt to new situations.
  • Self-awareness: Knowing your strengths and skills and having the confidence to put these across.
  • Commitment/Motivation: Having energy and enthusiasm in pursuing projects.Interpersonal skills: Ability to relate well to others and to establish good working relationships
  • Business awareness: having an insight into what is happening in the industry and its effects on the organization.

Below is a list of action verbs and phrases to assist you in describing your experience and the results you have achieved provided by monster.com. Be sure to use some of these verbs/phrases since expressions as "responsible for" make your skills look like imposed duties.

When choosing the phrase that best describes the situation, read over again it in the context of the sentence to be certain that your selection is correct and that the sentence is readable.

The purpose of using some words of the list below is to show employers that you know how to achieve results. Begin your job descriptions with a power verb or phrase: enlisted the support..., formed a committee..., sold, budgeted, improved, increased, maintained the client relationship.

Action Phrases Facilitators

  • Design, develop and deliver
  • Conduct needs analysis
  • Write course design documents Manage development
  • Consult with clients
  • Facilitate problem-solving meetings
  • Implement solutions Develop and implement formatting
  • Developed and delivered Revamped product training
  • Assessed employee and client training needs
  • Analyzed evaluation data
  • Designed and implemented

Learning Experience

  • Followed special task force
  • Assisted special task force
  • Proctored and scored
  • Facilitated discussion

Results driven

  • Reduced manufacturing plant's burden
  • Reduced material costs

Personality and people management

  • Managed an eleven-person team
  • Negotiated over $k
  • Coordinated strategic five-year plan
  • Created and implemented innovative approach
  • Developed new product

Action verbs

Please click on the following link from monster.com for a complete list of action verbs. This list is very useful to look through when formulating responsibilities and achievements for your resumes. It is also a useful tool to think of more eloquent, professional verbs when describing your background.

Synonyms

Synonyms are always good to stress the sometimes-ordinary duties that you performed in your workplace. Reading through these key terms into your resume will make you think of your tasks in a more creative manner and if adapted, can possibly allow you to express yourself more thoroughly.

Ability
Aptitude
Adopt
Use Utilize Employ Apply Mobilize Exert Restore Revive Specialize in
Authority
Command charter scope field control jurisdiction commission province circle in charge of
Authorize
Entitle Take charge of Delegate Empower Quality Invest Endow
Business
Undertaking Pursuit Venture Affair Concern Transaction Company Concern Enterprise
Establishment Institution Corporation Firm Organization
Carry out
Discharge Execute Pursue Fulfill Perform Practice Exercise Undertake Transact Assume
Accomplish Achieve Attain Assist Dispatch Expedite Co-operate Maintain Promote
Continue
Keep up remain resume persevere persist adhere to
Develop
Originate Create Derive Cause Effect Generate Bring about Result in Give rise to Design Devise Make Build Construct Synthesize Form Prepare Organize Sponsor Prompt
Earn
Merit Exceed Surpass Better Top Progress Advance Excel Contribute Support
Effective
Forceful Potent Valid Strong Vigorous Productive Influential Dynamic
Emphasis
Stress Accentuate Feature
Get
Obtain Secure Implement
Job
Situation Position Post Status Footing Appointment Capacity Occupation Calling Profession Career
Manage
Handle Deal with Represent Operate Oversee Designate Engineer Execute Supervise Conduct Engage in Regulate Check Direct Administer
Participate
Share Collaborate Coordinate Synchronize Combine Pool take part in contribute
Plan
Design Project Proposal Scheme Outline Map Model Program
Point out
Indicate Exhibit Display Reveal Demonstrate Show Credit with Assign to
Promoted
Elevated Raised
Responsible
Accountable Answerable Account for
Way
Method Means Systems Policy Procedure

Resume Layout

Font:

  • As a rule of thumb, you should use font that suits the information load of your CV, however, fonts below 10 are not readable, especially if it is Times New Roman. Fonts should not exceed 12, except for your name, which should always have a larger font than the body of the resume.

Margins:

  • Margins are generally flexible and may be adjusted to accommodate the length of your resume. The key is to have a clean, consistent document and make sure to always print your resume before sending it electronically to a prospective employer to make sure the end margins are not cut off.

Spell check:

  • One cannot stress enough to use spell check during and after having completed the resume. Check for spacing and indentation inconsistencies. If you are not a native speaker pass it to at least several native speakers and ask them for the impression they got from reading it.

Length of resume:

  • A one-page resume is often the best one since in most businesses, one page is strongly preferred. If you do use more than one page, put the most important information on the first page, and put your name on the second page.

NAME, ADDRESS, TELEPHONE, AND EMAIL

  • Your name, address, telephone and email address should be centered on the top of the top. Your name should be bold. You should only list one address, phone and email address for simplification and where you can be reached.

OBJECTIVE (Optional)

  • An objective should answer the question, "What does this person want to do?" It can be general enough to include more than one type of position, but a strong objective inevitably indicates that you prefer some things to others.
  • No objective is preferable to a vague one. "A challenging and creative job in which I can use my experience and education" will tempt most employers to move on to the next resume.

EDUCATION

  • List first graduate and then follow with undergraduate studies, in reverse chronological order. Include degrees, institutions, major courses of study, graduation dates and scholarships awarded.
  • Your grade point average is optional and only if it is strong. You may indicate some of your coursework by using phrases such as "Coursework includes," "Substantial coursework in The CEU Graduate School of Business includes:" If you are specializing your MBA degree, make sure to name the specialization so a prospective employer will know what direction you would like your career to move in.
  • If you are going abroad for the fall semester or participating in the joint program with Case Western Reserve University Cleveland or the Freiberg University program, you can list your schools and mention "Joint Degree Candidate"

EXPERIENCE

  • This is PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT SECTION. This section details your work experience in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent position.
  • Each position you held in the company should be listed, again in reverse order. Dates of incumbency should be indicated next to each position, with the overall time spent at that company next to the company name. You may use as many bullets as you want under each job title, but a general rule is no more than six.
  • Emphasize material its probable relevance to your employer audience. All employers are interested in leadership potential, communication skills, and organizational abilities.
  • Stress what you accomplished and what you uniquely contributed. Use verb phrases and don't use filler words, the shorter the description, the easier to read. Wherever possible, use quantities to indicate strong job performance, "Increased sales revenue by 15%" or "Created 5% cost saving"
  • Remember that what you place in the resume as achievements will be used as the starting points for the interview. Be prepared to discuss and defend the figures you placed as a result of your work. Do not undersell yourself, but don't lie!

COMPUTER SKILLS AND LANGUAGES

  • Use this section only if the computer skills that you have mastered are a particular strength and the skills are relevant for the prospective employer. For languages, state all (including your native) in which you are able to work in. Fluency is typically stated as native, fluent, proficient, or working knowledge.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

An optional section for additional information that does not fit elsewhere, such as travel and interests. It can humanize your resume and gives you more personality, such that a prospective employer may have interest in spending time with you with non-work related issues. It's also a great conversation starter!If you are willing to travel or relocate you should state it in order to give certain idea of your commitment to the prospective work to the employer.Do not list religious or political affiliations or personal information such as marital status, as those are areas that the employer may not ask about during the interview.

How to Write a Cover Letter

  • The letter's main purpose is to advertise your strengths and assets in a way that would interest employers in interviewing you. Remember that this is what a prospective employer will review besides your resume, so make sure it is perfect, as it's your shot in the door for an interview!
  • To attract the reader's attention, the cover letter must look good and be easy to read.
  • Use correct English, spelling, spacing, paragraphing, margins and above all, flawless typing
    is a must.
  • Make sure that while addressing it to a particular person by name, the spelling and title of the individual are correct. The person addressed should be usually the one in your area of interest or the manager responsible for the hiring. Never send a cover letter without knowing the person's name: letters for "For whom it may concern", or to "Head of Marketing" will never carry as much weight as a letter addressed to an individual.
  • A good cover letter should never be too long, so limit yours to less than one page.

Content

  • The first paragraph is aimed to get the reader's interest. This can be done by stating some particular knowledge you have of the reader's business, by a comment on some "timely" issue relating to the company's operation or by an impersonal statement of some outstanding fact relating to your ability that would probably appeal to the employer.
  • The body of the cover letter should make the employer wish to interview you by explaining what you can do for the company. Put yourself in the employer's position as you write and present facts that will both be interesting and accurately describe your assets and qualifications. Your prospective employer will be interested in your ability to make and/or save money, to preserve time, to effectively assume responsibility and to produce results more rapidly and economically than anyone else. Do not stress your weak points, such as lack of experience or current unemployment.
  • The closing paragraph should request action. Ask directly for an interview stating specific times and dates when you will call to arrange an interview. In all circumstances be courteous but use a direct approach.
  • The letter should end with the formal salutation, "Sincerely yours." Below the salutation, type your name and then add your signature.

Cover Letter Outline
Your Address City,
Country, Zip Date
(Ms. or Mr.) Smith

Title
Name of Company
Company
Address City, Zip
Country

Dear (Ms. or Mr.) Smith,

Your opening paragraph should arouse interest on the part of the reader. Tell the employer why you are writing the letter. Do not say in the first paragraph that you are looking for a job. Give information to show your specific interest in the company.

Your main paragraph should create desire. Give details of your background that will show the reader why one should consider you as a candidate. Be as specific as possible about the kind of a job you want. Don't make the reader try to guess what you would be interested in. Refer the reader to your qualifications on your attached resume or other material. Use as much space as you need to tell your story but keep it brief and to the point.

In your closing paragraph you ask for action. Ask for an appointment suggesting a time when you will contact the individual. You may now list your dates of availability.

Sincerely yours,

(Sign here)
Type your name

For more information and sample cover letters click on the following links:

The Basics of a Dynamic Cover Letter: Quintessential Careers

Fundamentals of a Cover Letter: Quintessential Careers

Internship Cover Letter Sample: Vault.com

Cover Letter Etiquette: monster.com

Cover Letters, The Details: JobSearch.com

Career Lab: Cover Letters

 

 
  • "I have been recently nominated as the Regional IT Manager for West Africa at Unilever. My CEU Business School education has been a key differentiator during an otherwise very competitive recruitment process. I would like to thank all my great peers of the 2013-14 cohort and the wonderful faculty at the B-School for the valuable learning experience I had during my time in BP."

    Moussa Moumouni

    MSc in IT Management class of 2014

     
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