Last week I met with a career counselor on campus.  When I entered the offices, I was greeted by a fresh-faced student worker who proceeded to ask me—somewhat apologetically—if I was a student (and I could almost visualize the unspoken air quotations).  I laughed on  the outside as I was once again reminded that even though I’m just finishing up my Bachelor’s, I’m old enough to be the mother of the majority of my peers.  But an hour and a half later, I realized that age doesn’t matter.  It’s how I market myself that does. 

Following a brief lesson on updating resumes and cover letters, I learned to:

  • Format and tailor cover letters and resume to each job opening in order to showcase your strengths.  This means dropping keywords from the position description directly into the individual documents.
  • Use verbs in past tense in order to highlight professional experience.  Instead of ‘facilitating writing workshops,” you “facilitated writing workshops.”
  • Avoid flashy and flowery cover letters and resumes, opting to save the theatrics for your portfolio.  Unless, of course, your business is graphic design.
  • Be specific!  How many authors did you contact in a former position, or what was the dollar amount you earned in royalties?
  • Avoid abbreviations.  Spell out states, job titles, etc.

It was painfully evident to me, when I met with my counselor, that standards and guidelines to resume preparation have changed quite a bit over the years.  This served to remind me that a proper education in your particular field—and how to best sell yourself to a prospective employer—go hand in hand when entering the job market.  Which is why I’m attending seminars next month on resume and cover letter writing, as well as successful interviewing. ~ cs

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