Getting Professional Pt. II: Résumés and Cover Letters

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So, you have a job interview?

Good for you and best of luck to you, I mean it.  But, if you want to leave with a job offer–from Costco to Merrill-Lynch–you’re going to need more than luck to make a good impression.

Sure, some of us are born lucky.  We’re charismatic.  Throw great parties. Make great first impressions.  Write decent research papers hours before they’re due.  Or you could be the work-horse.  Graduated Magna Cum Laude.  Perfect attendance.  Completed multiple internships all while working three jobs and presiding over your sorority/fraternity and countless other student organizations.  But…

How’s Your Résumé?

In order to impress potential employers you’re going to have to embody both the lucky one and the work-horse.  Employers want to believe that you’re going to do good work for them, but they also want to make sure you aren’t a stuff-shirt.

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Résumés that list your every accomplishment since Middle School are not only an incredible waste of paper, but are also quite obnoxious.  Unless you’re interviewing to get into Juilliard or the symphony, no one cares that you were in high school band. 

While you’re at it, nix that Objective statement and save that iteration for your Cover Letter.

Good résumés say hire me, I have experience in (add skill here) that is relevant to your company and this position.  Gone are the days of printing mass quantities of your accomplishments and calling it a résumé.  Employers want to see that you know a little about them so they know you’re invested.

And for goodness sake stand out.  I don’t mean that your résumé should be totally avant-garde, but play with the font and colors a little and print it on nice paper.  The key is effort and preparedness.  Don’t forget to bring extra copies.  Remember the Six Ps?

Prior

Planning

Prevents

P

Poor

Performance

When in doubt, remember the Six Ps.

 

Craft a Creative Cover Letter

Your cover letter should give your employer an idea of who you are as a person and why he or she should even interview you.  Like the previews before the movie.

Make it short, sweet, and professional.

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That cover letter is kind of lame.  Don’t be afraid to add your own creative flair so that your personality comes shining through.

Be sure to address the person who will be interviewing you in the cover letter and thank them for their consideration.  Let them know that you look forward to meeting them and their staff.  After all, it’s probably not a two-man operation. 

The Key

The absolute keys to a good interview are: Preparedness and Effort.  If you do your research–take notes, prepare questions–and put a genuine effort into preparing for your interview, you’ll feel less nervous and your interviewer will definitely take notice. 

Hopefully you learned a little about résumés and cover letters, so, until next time.  Thanks for reading!

 

Assembling a Professional Portfolio

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Writing Samples

As graduation grows nearer the scramble to find a “real job” has commenced or at the very least becomes an increasingly frightening realization.  As English majors we are both limited and liberated by what we do.  The ability to turn a phrase and meticulously edit pages upon pages of copy is both bankable and likely to rouse inherently condescending inquiry: “So, what can you do with a degree in English, teach?”  Luckily for us, companies are realizing more and more the necessity for a mastery of the English language and the art of creative communication.

So, how can you show off your skills?

Being a long-time admirer of the Vera Bradley product line and commitment to philanthropy and their hometown of Ft. Wayne, Indiana it seemed obvious that I should submit my résumé.  After receiving advice from a knowledgable career guide, I learned that I should also compile writing samples that both show off my skills, display a thorough research of the company and its needs, and explore ways of increasing Internet and Social Media traffic leading to increased sales.

Simply Put

I created four hypothetical blog posts for Vera Bradley’s blog The Inside Stitch that feature both their products and their annual factory sale.

Number One: Generating buzz

Are you ready for #vbos14?

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This post describes twelves steps to preparing for the biggest event of the year for Vera Bradley.  Under the dome of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, Indiana thousands of women (and the unfortunate husbands they drag along) gather for the week-long event in hopes of scoring garbage bags full of good deals–a shopper’s Mecca.  This post generates buzz for the sale by providing tips on how to navigate it successfully.

Number Two: Displaying product knowledge.

Style My Vera

This post involves showcasing new products in a blog feature. Describe new handbag styles and their usefulness, while promoting additional purchases of scarves and keychains to adorn them.

What’s in My Vera?

A post describing a given Vera Bradley bag and its effectiveness and usability.

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Take aways

Your writing samples shouldn’t just highlight your writing competence and creativity.  Your portfolio is like a job interview before a job interview and should display good research and keen interest in the company in which you’re applying.  Maybe you aren’t thinking about applying to Vera Bradley or any place like it, but the principles remain the same.  In the end, employers want to feel like you’ve done your homework and that you’re an employee worth investing in.