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by Connie and Caroline | April 07, 2009


Posted By Caroline Ceniza-Levine

When you look at a Help Wanted ad, you decide to apply based on what it says.  Do you want to do this job?  Do you want to work at this company?  Is what they offer attractive?  Do you know how to reach them?


Similarly, your resume is a Job Wanted ad to your prospective employers.  Are you positioning yourself correctly?


Will your prospects know what job you want?  Most people list their tasks, as if the resume was a grocery list for jobs.  Don’t list.  Instead craft a statement.  Tell people what you can do and want to do by highlighting your biggest and favorite achievements.


Will your prospects know what type of company or industry you want?  Again, most people get the grocery list of company names and industries.  If you have jobs in the same industry and you want to stay there, then maybe this is ok – boring but still probably effective.  If not (and what student has critical mass in just one industry?) then you need to tie it together with a summary line on the top.


Do you attract prospects?  Tiny fonts, colors that are funky but illegible, crammed in text – all of these aesthetic snafus make readers want to run away.  Make it easy for people to help you with clear print, enough white space, and of course engaging content.


Will prospects want to and know how to reach out to you?  Don’t make me look for your contact info.  Don’t make it small.  Don’t make me wonder if you’re serious about my company by listing a vague objective that basically says you’ll work anywhere that isn’t abusive (and even then that seems to depend on the pay and benefits…)


We all know that resumes should be concise, error-free, blah, blah, blah.  That’s Resume 101.  But the powerful resume is one that positions you in a way that makes employers want you.  It’s your marketing pitch.  So use the cynical consumer you have inside of you to judge your own resume:  would you buy what you are selling?




Positioning On-Campus/ Your Cover Letter Makes the Case for Hiring You

Posted By Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio

When I ran campus recruiting and university relations for Merrill, Warner-Lambert and Citi, my team and I rarely looked at cover letters.  And, we hired thousands of students each year.  So why am I now saying a cover letter is important?  Because in the off chance that someone does read it, why not capitalize on the opportunity to impress and stand out in a crowd?   Given the relatively easy task, it’s absolutely worth the time.  In fact, once you write an exceptional cover letter, you need only modify it slightly going forward. 


Just a few words about what a cover letter is not.  A cover letter is not a regurgitation of a resume.  A recruiter can review a resume in about 7 – 10 seconds.  The cover letter makes the case for why you should be hired.  It highlights your skills and “proves” you can do this job based on prior experience.  Unlike financial instruments, past performance DOES indicate future performance.  So here is your basic cover letter outline:

The first paragraph:  your greeting expresses your interest in the position, and that you would be an excellent candidate for such a role (not that you THINK you would be an excellent candidate for the role).  It should also include your expected year of graduation and whether you are applying for a summer or full-time position.


The second, third & fourth paragraphs:  each of these paragraphs should highlight a strength that is critical to the position.  If the position requires analytical skills:  you should include the fact that your analytical skills are strong, and describe your biggest accomplishment analytically – highlight it in a crisp, clear way.  Quantify whatever you can along the way, for example:  you worked on a team project in economics, and your position was the lead, you had 4 weeks to solve X problem, you had some challenges (be specific) along the way, but you persevered and received an A- on the project. 


The closing paragraph:  reiterate why you would be a star candidate for this role, and for the company, and thank them in advance for reviewing your cover letter.  You don’t have to mention that you will follow up, but of course, you do follow up 5 – 7 days after “dropping” your resume with career services.


Spend time crafting a powerful, compelling cover letter and you may just get the interview and the job. Ensure your tone is confident and enthusiastic and prove that you can do the work.  It’s not about being boastful, it’s about presenting yourself in a professional, compelling way … enough to entice a recruiter to meet you personally!