Graduation

Resumes, Cover Letters and CVs…Oh My!

Looking as Good on Paper as You Do in Your Cap and Gown

By: Clara Perez

Revamping your resume is essential for your ideal post-graduation career. (Credit: gaijinpot.com)

Graduation is the most exciting time in your college life and it’s the start of a new adventure.

Everyone wants to land that perfect post-grad job, but you’ll need to put in a little more work to do it.

With this next step, a revamp of your resume, creating a CV and a fully tailored cover letter are sure-fire ways to impress a potential new boss.

While you may have a resume saved on your computer from ages ago, you’ll want to revisit it and make sure your layout, job descriptions and academic honors are all updated.

When describing previous employment, make sure to be specific, but not to a fault, and always “fluff” your descriptions to work in your favor.

For instance, let’s say you worked in the school’s cafeteria but there’s no glamour in describing that role of washing dishes and spooning mac n’ cheese.

Use specifics about the job but make them work for you like instead of serving food to student body, try extensive customer service.

Instead of writing, “taking and placing customer orders,” write about your experiences as a strength by saying instead,  “effective at verbal communication.”

Finally, instead of saying “washing dishes,” use “organization and prep of services”. You can do this with literally any job, no matter how unfulfilling it seemed to be.

By jazzing up how you describe your duties in the workplace, it not only helps with resume building but can also help with interviews when asked about how such a job may have shaped you for this new one.

Be sure to keep your resume to one page. Many companies will not look at a resume that is convoluted and unnecessarily long. That’s what your CV is for.

A CV is a whole other professional beast.

While most think its essentially the same as your resume, this is a misconception.

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a detailed list of your academic experience including any honors, relevant courses, course work and publications for your future career.

Also included in your CV is any professional experience, certifications and skills.

While your resume limits you one page, a CV is your chance to elaborate on all of experience that makes you unique and qualified for a job or career.

Your CV should showcase anything you did in your college career that is relevant to your intended career such as term papers, final projects, experiments, publications, extracurricular activities and any courses you took that provide you with a specialized skill-set.

For example, if you want to be a journalist, you wouldn’t include everything you’ve ever written, but instead would include papers that were highly investigative, persuasive and translative as these show skills needed for a career in journalism.

Keep the others for your portfolio‒not your CV.

If you spent a semester abroad, always put that in your CV under your educational experience.

Not only does it show an adaptive and well-rounded attitude about education, it can always serve as a conversation starter for professionals to review your CV during an interview.

If you can get someone who has also traveled to that country or city and strike up a conversation about the food or the culture, you may just have a personable edge on the other candidates.

Try to keep your CV to about 2-3 pages. Anything more might seem excessive.

Finally, when it comes to your cover letter, sell yourself.

Confidence is key for a cover letter as this is your chance to write about yourself without a rigid format or in bulleted form.

While you should always say that it would be a fantastic opportunity to work with the company, you should also tell them why you would be an asset to them.

Talk about your skills as a leader, a member of a team, with time management and adaptability.

No matter the job or company, those skills are required across the board.

Finally, make sure to thank them for their time and consideration and sign your cover letter at the bottom. “Regards” or “Best” is always classy, and is a perfect way to round up that winning cover letter.

Overall, presenting yourself in the highest regard on paper is the key to your future employers. While your college career may be over, your whole life is ahead of you–so get writing!

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