Let’s face it, no matter how many job fairs you attend or job opportunity emails you receive from your college dean, finding a job is still a hard task. The panic to get a job didn’t hit me until the 2 months before my graduation. I had applied to jobs before, but the options were slim and no opening motivated me enough to go all in. In July, I was in full panic mode and gave it everything I got to find a job that I was passionate about. Thankfully, it worked out and now I have a job that I could not be more excited to start.
All the tips and tricks I’m sharing with you have come from helpful professors, past employers and trusty ole Google.
Hopefully, by sharing my journey with you guys, I can help other soon-to-be or recent grads that are looking for a job, especially in the PR field.
By this point in your life, you’ve probably had enough experience with resume building basics. In the following, I’m going to break down how I arranged my resume in order to land an interview for my dream job.
Keep it all on one page. Chances are, your future employer is sifting through hundreds of applications. They do not have time to read through a novel of your life and will most likely ignore a lengthy application
Every field requires a different design. My boyfriend’s resume for engineering looks significantly different to my PR one. Since PR is a creative field, it’s OK to spice up your resume. I still believe in not putting a headshot on your resume. If you qualify for the position, your future employer will look you up on LinkedIn where they can see your picture. Here, I’ve inserted a picture of my actual resume. I chose colors and textures that represented me. I also made sure to choose fonts that were simple and easy to read.
Keep it professional and use professional language. It’s OK to list your tasks for a job in phrases and not complete sentences. Just be sure to use action verbs. Use present tense if you are currently working in a position and use past tense for previous jobs.
The sections you choose to include should reflect your past experience. If you’ve never had a job, you may want to move the involvement section into where the professional experience is located.
For me, I chose to list:
- contact information
- professional experience
I’ve had a job since sophomore year of high school, so my professional experience section is going to take up the bulk of the page. If you have more involvement, that should go in the main part of the resume. The contact, education and skills should be smaller sections.
Also a word of advice…READ EVERY SINGLE WORD AND MAKE SURE NOTHING IS WRONG. You need to read it like 3 times. Then, give it to your mom, dad, boyfriend and best friend to read. Then you can send it.
It’s important to rank your job experiences in accordance with the job you’re applying for. Since I was applying to a PR firm, I put my PR experience at the top. These were followed by other jobs that showed off my skills in an office setting, followed by jobs that showed them I had initiative, but didn’t have skills that were completely relevant to PR. You want to make it easy for your recruiter to get a picture of your work life at first glance.
You can either choose to make your own template like I did on InDesign or find one online. Good resources are Canva and Etsy. Etsy templates range from $9-$15 and look beautiful and professional. I would recommend using color and spicing up your resume in general. If you have Adobe Creative Cloud skills, show them off by designing your own resume!
You need to do whatever you can to catch the recruiter’s eye. Your first mini-goal in obtaining a dream job is getting that interview. To get that interview, you need to find ways to stand out from the rest.
Cover letters are pretty much letters where you inform your potential future employer about your skills and convince them that you are a great fit for the company.
I’ll be breaking down the different sections in a cover letter in the following numbered sections.
- Have a personal header. This can be done on Microsoft Word or through InDesign/Photoshop. It’s convenient to have on hand because you never know when you’ll need to be writing a professional letter.
- Stalk your company and figure out who this cover letter should go to. Search the company on LinkedIn and look for human resources manager or office manager. These are the people usually receiving the letters. You can also find the company’s staff on its website. If you really have no idea, use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”.
- The first paragraph should be a personal statement of why you want to work for the company and how your skills would tie into the job.
- The main body of the letter should cover your most pertinent jobs in relation to the job you are seeking. These will be brief descriptions of the job title and tasks you had to accomplish. If you have actual data like the amount of money you raised for a charity event you helped plan, be sure to include it.
- The last paragraph is to wrap everything up and insert any more skills you think may add to the company. Here I wrote about my Adobe skills and office etiquette.
- I don’t know if this is true or not, but some people are really turned off when people sign off with “best”. It should always be “best regards”. I don’t know how applicable this is to the general population, but to be on the safe side, always sign it “best regards” if you want to use that sign-off. Other ones you can use are “sincerely” and “warmly”.
- Always save your letters in a PDF form. This way, there’s no chance of someone accidentally deleting text or screwing with your format. Also, always name your documents JenLeCoverLetter.PDF or JenLeResume.PDF so stay organized for both your recruiter and yourself.
Make Your Dreams a Reality
Hopefully, this article was helpful in helping you develop your resume and cover letter to land that interview for your dream job. Be on the lookout for Part II: Searching & Applying for your dream job.