Resume Handbook

Resume Handbook








CAREER SERVICES
westerntc.edu/careerservices

Résumé
Handbook

Western Technical College
Career Services
400 Seventh Street North
La Crosse, WI 54601
608.785.9440

Table of Contents
Introduction………………………………………………………………………...2
Résumé Basics and FAQ’s……………………………………………………….3-4
Objective Statement or Summary of Qualifications …………………………….…5
Three Most Common Résumé Formats…………………………………....……….6
Chronological Résumé…………………………………………….….…......6
Chronological Résumé Sample…………………………………...…............7
Functional/Skills Résumé…………………………………………………....8
Functional/Skills Résumé Sample……………………………………...……9
Combination Résumé………………………………………………………10
Combination Résumé Sample……………………………………………...11
Sample Résumés …………………………………………...…………..12-14
Skills and Personal Qualities Employers Look For……………………………….15
Transferrable Skills………………………………………………………………..16
Descriptive Word List…………………………………………………………17-18
Employment References…………………………………………………………..19
How Does Your Résumé Check Out?……………………………………..……...20
Résumé Critique Guidelines…………………………………………….…...……21
Cover Letter Basics and FAQ’s...………………………………………...…..…...22
Cover Letter Samples…………………………………………….….….….….23-24
Thank You Letter Sample………………………………………………………....25
Other Helpful Tips ……………………………………………………….….........26
Debunking Common Résumé Myths……………………………………………..27
Submitting Your Résumé and Cover Letter………………………………….…...28

Mission
Western Technical College provides relevant, high quality education, in a collaborative and sustainable
environment, that changes the lives of students and grows our communities.
Vision
Western Technical College is the college of first choice in our region.
Value Statement
We value the success of our students, and hold ourselves accountable for providing excellence in student learning
based on the diverse needs of each student, and built on a foundation of integrity, teamwork and respect.

Introduction
This handbook is brought to you by Western Technical College’s Career Services
department. There are a number of examples, resources, and guidelines included to
help you prepare your professional résumé and cover letter. This is only one of
many resources available to you as you prepare for the job market.
Western Technical College’s Career Services department is available for use by
prospective and current students, as well as alumni of Western Technical College.
Located in the Welcome Center, we encourage you to stop by if you need
assistance throughout the résumé and cover letter writing process. Please go to
westerntc.edu/careerservices/ to view additional resources that our department
provides and an up-to-date schedule of Career Services events.
If you would like to contact us for any reason, please email
careerservices@westerntc.edu, call us at (608) 785-9440, or by stop by in person to
our office in the Welcome Center (400 7th St, La Crosse, WI).
We are a Walk-in Center. Our walk in hours are: Monday-Thursday 8-4 and
Fridays 10-4. We hope you will walk in whenever you need assistance with your
job search.
Best wishes in all your future endeavors,

Career Services Staff

2

Résumé Basics and FAQ’s
What is a résumé?
A résumé is a one- to two- page document describing your experiences and qualifications for a
specific occupational area. Résumés are used as a marketing tool to help land an interview and
are the preferred method of communicating credentials to potential employers. Generally,
employers will spend 6-20 seconds looking over a résumé to determine whether or not the
candidate should be invited for an interview.

Why should I write a résumé?
The main purpose of a résumé is to obtain an interview. Résumés also:
•
•
•

Advertise your experiences and qualifications to employers, as well as others who
may be able to provide you with employment leads
Allow employers to screen job applicants in an efficient manner
Help applicants stand out among others as a more serious and motivated candidate

How do I start writing my résumé?
Before you start writing your résumé, you should know that there are multiple ways to write a
successful and tailored résumé. First, you should know your career objective since your career
objective will assist in dictating the content of your résumé. You should also look at examples of
other résumés from similar career areas, which will then help you choose a résumé style that
meets your specific needs and one that you are comfortable with. Seeking assistance from others
will also benefit you when you are starting to write your résumé.

Should I expect to use the same résumé for all job positions?
Be sure to carefully review and edit your résumé every time you send it out to a potential
employer. You should try and tailor your résumé to the specific job description of the position
you are applying for. For instance, if a job description asks specifically for experience with
Microsoft Office 2013, it may be important to include this in your résumé when you otherwise
may not. Because you will already have the foundation of your résumé, tailoring, reviewing and
editing your résumé will not take a long time, but will make a big impact.

3

Can’t I just use a template to lessen the work I have to do?
Although templates are available, we highly discourage the use of them. They are often
inflexible and do not offer you the option to create the résumé to your liking. Another thing we
have noticed is that the headings are often in color. Most employers print in black and white
which causes your headings to print in grayscale. You want your headings to be dark and bold.

What are some things that I shouldn’t do regarding my résumé?
First off, you should not lie on your résumé. The résumé is the first opportunity potential
employers can ‘get to know you’ and the first impression that you make. Because of this, you
should be truthful, factual, and accurate. Secondly, you should review and edit your
résumé…and then review and edit your résumé again. Typos and misspellings stand out and
although spell check is a great tool to use, it is not fool-proof. For example, you may mean to
state that you are good at ‘organizing books’, but spell check will not correct your résumé if it
states ‘organizing brooks.’ It always helps to have someone else review your résumé for you.

Should I list all of my work experiences, even the ones I had in high
school?
In all likelihood, the answer is no. Generally for résumés, you should list past work experiences
that pertain to your current career objective and career goals. However, there are cases in which
listing irrelevant work experience may be necessary. If you are a current high school graduate or
college graduate, listing irrelevant work experience may be necessary. Although it may not
exactly pertain to your current career objective, list transferrable accomplishments and skills
learned and acquired through what may seem like irrelevant work.

How can I be specific on my résumé when I discuss my duties, skills,
accomplishments, and experiences?
One common way to be specific on a résumé is to use what is commonly referred to as
quantifiers and qualifiers. Quantifiers assist in putting an exact or estimated number instead of a
vague term. For instance, it is preferred to state “supervised eight sales representatives” instead
of “supervised many sales representatives.” Qualifiers help express a verb or action word in a
way that enhances the résumé. Instead of stating “organized annual company charity event for
seven years,” one can state that they “successfully organized annual company charity event for
seven years.” When possible, use as many details as possible.

What if I have more questions?
If you have more questions or would like to go over your résumé, please do not hesitate to
contact Career Services at careerservices@westerntc.edu or (608) 785-9440.

4

An Objective Statement or a Summary of Qualifications
What’s best for Your Résumé?
Some research suggests an objective statement is a waste of space that only tells an employer
what you want. Other opinions indicate it depends on some of the following factors:

An objective statement might be the right choice for you if …….
•
•
•
•

You are just entering the workforce
You are a new graduate with minimal experience
You are re-entering the workforce after an extended absence
You have or are changing career direction

An objective statement may work best for you because your work history will not reflect the
skills you have that fit the position you are presently seeking. In other words, if you worked for
a call center and now you are a respiratory therapist those skills will not be the same. An
objective statement will work for you because you have an exact job title.
Sample: Objective: Entry level position as a surgical technologist where skills will be used to
insure the utmost safety and success of the surgery
Sample: Objective: Seeking an automotive technician position that will exceed the service
expectations of the customer and company

A summary or summary of qualifications might be right for you if…
•
•
•

You are experienced and are looking for a similar career within your field/industry
You possess a skill set that is broad and could be used for many positions
You wish to highlight your accomplishments

The summary tells an employer what you can do for them! This is preferred if you have work
experience, accomplishments and skills to promote.
Sample Resume for a Registered Nurse:
Summary of Qualifications
• Forty-eight weeks of clinical experience in hospital and nursing home settings
• Demonstrated strong communication skills in acute care with geriatric patients
• Four years of nursing assistant experience in home health care
• Clinical evaluations stated strong critical thinking and problem solving skills

Summary or objective-You choose what is best!
•
•
•

Résumé writing is a skill, keep practicing
Your résumé is a mirror; it needs to reflect who you are
Need help deciding? Come to Career Services—we can help!
5

Three Most Common Résumé Formats
In this section, we will discuss the three most common résumé formats, which are the
chronological résumé, the functional/skills résumé, and the combination résumé. After a brief
description of each résumé format, an example will be provided.

The Chronological Résumé
Strategy
A chronological résumé begins with your most recent work experience and training and moves
back in time in reverse chronological order.

Best Uses
Individuals with related work history without large gaps in employment would generally use this
format. This format is often preferred for individuals who are seeking a promotion within the
same company. This type of format is typically used by college students or recent graduates.

Advantages
•
•
•
•
•

It is a very familiar format for employers
The chronological résumé is the easiest to write
Strong work experiences are highlighted, as well as the progression in a specific field
This format contains a straightforward format that is easy to write and easy to update
This format emphasizes steady employment, as well as previous and current employers

Disadvantages
•
•
•
•

The format is limited to individuals with recent and related work experiences
This format highlights any employment gaps
Unrelated work experiences may be highlighted in more detail than desired
Certain skills that are integral to the job description will not be emphasized

Typical Chronological Résumé Format
•
•
•

•
•
•

Name and contact information
Objective
Qualifications
o Four to six bulleted items citing key qualifications
Education
o Name of higher education institution, dates, degree/certification---most recent
first
Employment
o Most recent positions listed first with bulleted items regarding skills, duties, and
accomplishments
Campus/Community Involvement

6

Chronological	Résumé	Sample	

John P. Walker
1123 Poplar Lane, New Ridge, Iowa 52317
Cell: (608) 555-7817
john.p.walker@example.com

Summary of Qualifications
•
•
•
•
•

Over five years’ experience in the manufacturing industry
Associate of Applied Science degree in marketing
Experienced sales representative with a strong drive to succeed
Communicated with clients from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds daily
Strong team player who enjoys working with the general public

Education
Marketing - Associate of Applied Science Degree
Western Technical College, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Honors Recipient

April 2015

Professional Work Experience
Sales Associate, ABC Manufacturing, La Crosse, WI
January 2011 – Present
• Generate new accounts through cold-calling and lead generation
• Consistently maintain or exceed monthly sales goals
• Top sales performer for five consecutive months
• Responsible for 30, 60 and 90 day sales forecasts
Customer Service Assistant, DEF Inc., Galesville, WI
November 2008 – January 2011
• Handled customer complaints, answered questions, and explained policies and
procedures for the parts department
• Participated in 4 customer service training sessions
• Trained new employees for the customer service machine parts department
Customer Service, Courtesy Corporation, Holmen, WI
• Provided excellent food service to customers with a smile
• Learned sanitary methods of food preparation and serving

May 2006 – November 2008

Associations
•
•

Member, Business Professionals of America
Member, Wisconsin Marketing and Management Association

2012 – Present
2012 – 2014

7

Functional/Skills Résumé
Strategy
The functional/skills résumé organizes work experiences and other accomplishments under key
skill areas, which should be skill areas needed to be successful in the type of employment the
applicant is seeking.

Best Uses
Individuals who have little or no work experience that supports their employment objective or
applicants with gaps in their employment history best use the functional/skills résumé format. It
is a common format for individuals who are changing careers or entering the workforce after
completing an educational program unrelated to past work experiences.

Advantages
•
•
•
•

Unrelated work experiences and gaps in employment history are not emphasized
This format places emphasis on related accomplishments and skills the applicant wishes to
highlight
Candidates can take more credit for accomplishments not readily associated with specific job
titles
Hands-on, educational related experiences and accomplishments could be highlighted within
skill areas

Disadvantages
•
•

It takes more effort to write
Some employers disfavor this format because they cannot readily associate developed skills
and accomplishments with specific employers or job titles

Typical Functional/Skills Résumé Format
•
•
•
•
•
•

Name and contact information
Objective
Education
o Name of higher education institution, dates, degree/certification---most recent first
Skills
o List three or four skills areas, such as organizational skills, teaching skills, clinical
skills, and computer skills with three or four bulleted items documenting the skill.
Employment
o One line with basics regarding jobs (company name, company location, and dates)
Campus/community involvement
o Most recent volunteer position listed first. It is optional to bulleted these items

8

Functional/Skills	Résumé	Sample	

Helen A. Hopper

hopper.helen@example.com
C: (608) 555-7167

3344 Smith Street North
La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601

Professional Objective
Seeking an administrative professional position within an educational institution

Education
Administrative Professional, Associate in Applied Science Degree
Western Technical College, La Crosse, WI
Related Course Work:

• Business Procedures
• Meeting & Event Planning

April 2015

• Business Correspondence
• Managing Office Finances

Qualifications
Software Knowledge
• Proficient with Microsoft Office 2013; Advanced skill with Word and Outlook
• Website Design – Advanced skill level
Bookkeeping and Records Management
• Maintained detailed records for all store accounts with a major wholesale supply company
• Organized and implemented a new numerical and alphabetical filing system
• Learned and applied accounting software programs during company accounting system conversion
Customer Service Skills
• Experienced working with the public in a fast-paced work environment
• Communicated with potential clients to answer questions/provide referrals to account representatives
• Conducted a customer satisfaction survey and presented the results to the administration

Related Work Experience
Administrative Professional Intern, Northwoods Elementary School, La Crosse, WI
Spring 2015
• Participated in all aspects of the school district records management system
• Applied spreadsheet software knowledge to a variety of grant funded school projects
• Assisted in the organization and dissemination of a staff in-service program
• Organized parent/teacher conference schedules for twenty-four teachers in a two week time period

Work History
Switchboard Operator, Wholesale Supply Company, La Crosse, WI
Educational Aide, Willy Wonka Child Care Center, La Crosse, WI
Bookkeeper, Taxes Are Us, Bigbucks, WI

Honors and Awards

•Volunteer Award Recipient 2011-2012

June 2009-February 2015
April 2008-June 2009
January 2007-April 2008

•Student Leadership Scholarship Recipient 2015

9

Combination Résumé
Strategy
The combination résumé incorporates characteristics of the chronological and the functional/skills
résumé. Generally, the combination résumé begins with a description of specific skills and qualifications
and then is followed by employment history, listed in reverse-chronological order.

Best Uses
Combination résumés suit a variety of job-seekers, ranging from those who do have a diverse work
history to those who may have large employment gaps in their employment history. This type of résumé
may be applicable for older workers, career changers, and job-seekers that have academic deficiencies or
limited experience.

Advantages
•
•

•

The combination résumé allows for an applicant’s skills to be showcased first
Whether you have worked for the same company for ten years or are making a career change, the
combination résumé emphasizes the skills that the applicant has gained
The combination résumé highlights skills that are relevant to the job while expressing the work
experience that hiring personnel generally prefer

Disadvantages
•
•
•

Because the combination résumé still indicates work experience and history, any employment
gaps or unrelated work experience will still be evident
This format may be difficult to write and edit
Although employers may still prefer the chronological format, the combination format is a good
alternative to the functional/skills format

Typical Combination Résumé Format
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•
•
•
•
•

Name and contact information
Objective
Summary of skills and/or experience
o List three or four skills areas, such as organizational skills, teaching skills, clinical skills,
and computer skills with three or four bulleted items documenting the skill.
Employment history
o Most recent positions listed first with bulleted items regarding skills, duties, and
accomplishments
Education*
o Name of higher education institution, dates, degree/certification---most recent first
Professional memberships or organizations

*The reason we recommend your education section be further up on the page is because you are a new
graduate (or soon to be one!).

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Combination	Résumé	Sample	

Alice A. Nelson
2564 Poplar Road East
Twin Lakes, MI 52189
Cell: (714) 555-9641
nelson.alicea@example.com

Professional Objective
Position utilizing my skills and education in business management and accounting

Education
Accounting, Associate’s Degree, Bayview Technical College, Bayview, MI
GPA: 3.8/4.0

April 2015

Business Management, Associate’s Degree, Western Technical College, La Crosse, WI
GPA: 3.6/4.0

April 2003

Skills Summary
Management
• Supervised 5-7 employees in various office settings for six years
• Implemented new exit interview process to obtain a better idea of why employees were leaving
• Served as company representative for 2009’s corporate retreat
Computer
• Proficient in Microsoft Office 2013, Corel WordPerfect Office and QuickBooks Pro
• Created new company website; received numerous compliments from co-workers
Organizational
• Arranged annual company outing for three consecutive years
• Established new office filing system for efficiency and effectiveness

Employment History
Sales Representative Manager, Opus Enterprises, Twin Lakes, MI
April 2005-August 2013
• Managed a staff of four employees that had over $87,000 in annual sales
• Assisted in bookkeeping duties
Product Safety Supervisor, Hour House, LLC, Bayview, MI
• Supervised three employees in charge of product safety
• Composed monthly company newsletter

May 2003-April 2005

Assistant Store Manager, Kwik Trip, La Crosse, WI
September 2001-May 2003
• Assisted with stocking shelves and ordering product
• Greeted customers and used computerized cash register to ring up sales

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Sample	Résumé	with	Clinical	Experience	

Sabrina	Moran	

N3828	Moran	Road																										
																																																																																																			(608)	784-4753	
Hillsboro,	WI		54634																																																																																																							morans@students.westerntc.edu	
	

Objective	
To	obtain	a	position	as	a	Medical	Assistant	that	will	enable	me	to	use	my	strong	organizational	skills	and	ability	
to	work	well	with	others	
	

Education		
Medical	Assistant,	Technical	Diploma,	Western	Technical	College																																																																			April	2015	
• First	semester	GPA:	4.0	
• President’s	List	first	semester	
	

Summary	of	Qualifications		

	

•
•
•
•
•

Obtained	Medical	Assistant	Certification	in	May,	2015	
Hold	current	First	Aid	and	CPR	Certifications	
Knowledge	of	medical	terminology		and	medical	procedures		
Very	proficient	in	Phlebotomy		
Understand	sterilization	techniques		

Clinical	Experience	
Gundersen	Health	System,	Urology	Department																																																																			March	24	–	March	28,	2015	
Mayo	Clinic	Health	System,	Obstetrics	Department																																																																			March	31	–	April	4,	2015	
St.	Joseph’s	Clinic	Hillsboro/Elroy		
	
	
	
		
																															April	7	–	April	24,	2015	
• Assisted	in	the	examination	and	treatment	of	patients				
• Measured	vital	signs,	such	as	pulse	
• Recorded	information	on	charts	
• Prepared	treatment	rooms	for	examination	of	patients	
• Cleaned	and	sterilized	instruments	
	

Work	History	
Dish	Washer,	Spring	Valley	Golf	Course,	Union	Center,	WI																																																																	03/2010	–	03/2015	
Front	Desk,	Hillsboro	Telephone	Company,	Hillsboro	WI																																																																				06/2013	–	08/2013	
	

Community	Involvement	and	Leadership		
Hmong	Organization	Promoting	Education	(HOPE)—Raised	money	for	scholarships	
Heritage	Manor	Nursing	Home—Read	to	residents	and	helped	them	with	crafts	 	
Volunteered	to	serve	at	the	annual	Cesky	Den	Celebration	
	
	
	
4-H	Junior	Leader—taught	babysitting	and	cooking	classes	
	
	
	
	
														 	
	
	
	
	
	
	
	
	

	
	2012	–	present																
																																		2014	
	
																			2014	
	
						2011	–	2013	
	

12

Devon F Manson
3829 11th Street South, La Crosse, WI 54601
mansond@students.westerntc.edu (608) 738-4240

Objective Seeking a full-time position in electronics in La Crosse, WI
Related Education
Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Expected Completion: April 2016
Associate in Applied Science
Western Technical College
GPA: 3.87/4.0
Relevant Coursework:
DC/AC I, DC/AC II, DC/AC III, Digital Electronics, Electronic Devices, Integrated Circuit
Applications, Microprocessors, LabVIEW, PLC Fundamentals, Industrial Electronics,
Fabrication Techniques, Communication Systems
Specific Skills Learned:
Building circuits from designs
Trouble shooting electronic systems
Program and maintain Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) for assembly lines and
light fixtures
Honors:
President's List and member of Phi Kappa Theta Honor Society

Computer Experience
Software Knowledge – Multisim, LabVIEW, Auto CAD, RSLogix 500, Datex, Microsoft:
Access, Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Migration Contractor, Interact Communications Inc., Onalaska, WI
2012-2013
Migrated content from an existing website, through a filter, to a new site under a content
management system (CMS)
Trouble shooting performed as needed to insure proper transition

Work History
Guest Service Co-worker, Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse, WI
August 2012-Present
Migration Contractor, Interact Communications Inc., Onalaska, WI
2012-2013
Customer Service, Viterbo Bookstore, La Crosse, WI
2010
Substitute Teacher, La Crosse, Onalaska, Holmen and Tomah
2007-2012

Other Education
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, WI
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Steven Covey – Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

ME-PD 2006
MS Genetics 1989
BS Biology 1983
Seminar 1982

13

Sample	Résumé	

Michael Millwright
1234 Worker Street, Brookfield, WI 53005
milwrightm@students.westerntc.edu (262)-999-1111

_______________________ Summary of Qualifications_________________________
• Experienced welder with knowledge of GMAW, SMAW, MIG, TIG and Fabrication welding
•
•
•
•

ASME Certification
Manufacturing Skill Standards Council – Certified Production Technician certification
Ability to fabricate from blueprints and shop drawings
Responsible employee with great attendance who values accuracy in work

_____________________________Education__________________________________
Welding, Technical Diploma, Western Technical College, La Crosse WI
GPA 3.6

April 2015

_________________________Related Work History____________________________
Welder, QPS Employment Group, Brookfield WI
Position, align and secure parts for assembly
Examine work pieces for defects

Seasonal 2013 - Present

____________________________Work History________________________________
Technician, Zip Lube, Onalaska, WI
Changed oil in automobiles, meeting standards in fast pace environment
Diagnosed automobile condition to determine if other service was needed
Recorded accurate customer records on computer

April 2012 – June 2015

Server, McDonalds, Brookfield, WI
Provided outstanding customer service to diverse population
Responsible for accurate and timely orders
Maintained a sanitary and safe work environment

May 2009 - April 2012

__________________________Volunteer Activities____________________________
Helped host regional Skills USA welding competition
Farmhand - performed welds as needed for maintenance
Participated in fundraising activities for Ronald McDonald House charity

2015
2013
2013

_________________________Awards and Leadership__________________________
Skills USA Welding state competition, 2nd place GMAW
Skills USA Welding chapter, treasurer

April 2015
2013 - 2015

14

Skills and Personal Qualities Employers Want
	

Popular employability skills that employers are looking
for:
		
Effective communication:	Employers	seek	candidates	who	can	listen	to	instructions	and	act	on	those	
instructions	with	minimal	guidance.	They	want	employees	who	speak,	write,	and	listen	effectively,	organize	their	
thoughts	logically,	and	explain	everything	clearly.	
Computer and technical literacy:	Almost	all	jobs	now	require	an	understanding,	ranging	from	basic	to	
advanced,	of	computer	software,	word	processing,	e-mail,	spreadsheets,	and	Internet	navigation.	
Problem-solving/Creativity:	Employers	always	want	people	who	can	get	them	out	of	a	pickle.	Problemsolving	ability	can	aid	you	with	making	transactions,	processing	data,	formulating	a	vision,	and	reaching	a	
resolution.	Employers	need	the	assurance	that	you	can	conquer	job	challenges	by	thinking	critically	and	
creatively.	
Interpersonal abilities:	Relationship-building	and	relationship-management	are	high	priorities	with	many	
employers.	These	skills	confirm	that	a	candidate	can	relate	well	to	others,	both	co-workers	and	customers.	
Teamwork skills:	The	ability	to	work	well	with	others	while	pursuing	a	common	goal	is	a	long-running	
favorite	of	employers.	But	so	is	the	ability	to	work	with	minor	supervision.	
Diversity sensitivity:	In	today’s	world,	cultural	sensitivity	and	ability	to	build	rapport	with	others	in	a	
multicultural	environment	is	highly	valued	by	employers.	
Planning and organizing: Workplace	life	requires	prioritizing	and	organizing	information.	Employers	value	
people	who,	metaphorically,	dig	a	well	before	they’re	thirsty.	
Leadership and management:	Leadership	consists	of	a	strong	sense	of	self,	confidence,	and	a	
comprehensive	knowledge	of	company	goals.	These	are	qualities	that	motivate	and	inspire,	providing	a	solid	
foundation	for	teamwork.	
	

Personal qualities that employers are looking for:
Adaptability and Flexibility:	Nearly	half	of	employers	in	a	recent	survey	gave	a	high	rating	to	“openness	
to	new	ideas	and	concepts.”	They	also	like	candidates	who	can	work	independently	or	as	part	of	a	team,	
changing	gears	when	required,	whether	multitasking	or	adapting	working	hours	and	locale.	
Reliability and Punctuality:	Employers	want	people	they	can	count	each	and	every	day.	Showing	up	for	
work	on	time	when	you	are	scheduled	is	half	the	battle!		
Professionalism and Work Ethic:	Employers	seek	productive	workers	with	positive	work	ethics	who	
stick	with	challenges	until	they	meet	them	and	are	willing	to	accept	extra	work	assignments.		Be	committed	to	
doing	the	best	job	possible!	
Positive Attitude and Energy: The	last	to	be	picked	and	promoted	are	candidates	who	show	gloomy	
outlooks	and	emotional	immaturity.	Exhibit	a	sunny	outlook	and	energetic,	organized	behavior.		Be	well	
motivated,	innovative	and	a	self-starter.	
	
Source:	Cover	Letters	for	Dummies,	Joyce	Lain	Kennedy,	3rd	Edition,	January,	2009	

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Transferable Skills
These are the skills you have acquired during any activity in your life—jobs, classes, projects, parenting,
hobbies, sports, clubs—almost anything that is transferable or applicable to what you want to do in your
next job.
Communication: the skillful
expression, transmission and
interpretation of knowledge and
ideas.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Speaking effectively
Speaking a foreign language
Using sign language
Training or teaching others
Writing concisely
Listening attentively
Expressing ideas
Facilitating group
discussion
Providing appropriate
feedback
Negotiating
Handling complaints
Perceiving nonverbal
messages
Persuading
Reporting information
Describing feelings
Interviewing
Editing

Research and Planning: the
search for specific knowledge and
the ability to conceptualize future
needs and solutions for meeting
those needs.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Forecasting, predicting
Creating ideas
Identifying problems
Imagining alternatives
Identifying resources
Gathering information
Solving problems
Setting goals
Extracting important
information
Defining needs
Analyzing

Human
Relations/Teamwork: the

•
•

use of interpersonal skills for
resolving conflict, relating to
and helping people.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Developing rapport
Being sensitive
Listening
Conveying feelings
Providing support for others
Motivating
Sharing credit
Coaching
Counseling
Cooperating
Representing others
Perceiving feelings,
situations
Asserting

Organization, Management
and Leadership: the ability to
supervise, direct and guide
individuals and groups in the
completion of tasks and fulfillment
of goals.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Initiating new ideas
Handling details
Coordinating tasks
Managing groups
Delegating responsibility
Teaching
Coaching/counseling
Planning and arranging
events
Identify and manage ethical
issues
Promoting change
Selling ideas or products
Decision making with
others
Managing conflict

Dealing with crisis
Assessing and evaluating
others’ work

Work Survival: the day-to-day
skills that assist in promoting
effective production and work
satisfaction.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Implementing decisions
Cooperating
Enforcing policies
Being punctual
Managing time
Keeping records
Attending to detail
Meeting goals
Enlisting help
Accepting responsibility
Setting and meeting
deadlines
Organizing
Making decisions
Repairing or maintaining
equipment
Utilizing technology
Dealing with crisis
Assessing and evaluating
my own work

This list of the five broad skills areas
with specific job skills within that
area was adopted from the article
“Transferrable Skills Sets for Job
Seekers.”
http://www.quintcareers.com/transfer
able_skills_set.html

16

	

Descriptive Word List
Use descriptive words to write about your job responsibilities. These words might help jog your memory or
describe what you did. This is not an all-inclusive list.

Action Words
Adapted, enlarged list inspired by Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
Accelerated
Accepted
Accomplished
Achieved
Acquired
Adapted
Adjusted
Administered
Advanced
Advertised
Advised
Analyzed
Announced
Anticipated
Appointed
Appraised
Approved
Arbitrated
Arranged
Assembled
Assessed
Assigned
Assisted
Attained
Audited
Authored
Authorized
Automated
Averted
Balanced
Bargained
Bought
Briefed
Budgeted
Built

Calculated
Captured
Cared for
Carried out
Catalogued
Centralized
Chaired
Changed
Charted
Checked
Clarified
Closed
Coached
Collaborated
Collected
Commanded
Communicated
Compared
Compiled
Completed
Composed
Compounded
Computed
Conceived
Conceptualized
Concluded
Condensed
Conducted
Confronted
Constructed
Consulted
Contacted
Contracted
Contrived
Controlled

Converted
Conveyed
Convinced
Cooperated
Coordinated
Copied
Corrected
Correlated
Corresponded
Corroborated
Counseled
Created
Critiqued
Cultivated
Curtailed
Cut
Decentralized
Decided
Decreased
Defined
Delegated
Delivered
Demonstrated
Described
Designed
Detailed
Detected
Determined
Developed
Devised
Diagnosed
Directed
Discovered
Dispensed
Displayed

Disproved
Dissected
Distributed
Diverted
Documented
Doubled
Drafted
Drove
Earned
Edited
Educated
Effected
Eliminated
Employed
Enacted
Encouraged
Enforced
Engineered
Enjoyed
Enlarged
Enlisted
Ensured
Entertained
Equipped
Established
Estimated
Evaluated
Examined
Exceeded
Exchanged
Executed
Exhibited
Expanded
Expedited
Experimented

Explained
Explored
Extracted
Fabricated
Facilitated
Familiarized
Fashioned
Figured
Filed
Financed
Fixed
Focused
Followed
directions
Forecasted
Formalized
Formed
Formulated
Founded
Furnished
Gathered
Generated
Governed
Graded
Graduated
Grouped
Guided
Halted
Handled
Headed
Helped
Hired
Identified
Illustrated
Implemented
17

Improved
Improvised
Increased
Indexed
Induced
Influenced
Informed
Initiated
Innovated
Inspected
Inspired
Installed
Instituted
Instructed
Insured
Integrated
Intensified
Interpreted
Interviewed
Introduced
Invented
Inventoried
Invested
Investigated
Issued
Joined
Judged
Justified
Kept records
Key noted
Launched
Learned
Lectured
Led
Lifted
Liquidated
Listened
Loaded
Located
Logged
Made
Maintained
Managed
Manipulated
Manufactured
Marketed
Mastered

Measured
Medicated
Memorized
Merchandised
Modeled
Moderated
Modified
Monitored
Motivated
Named
Navigated
Negotiated
Nominated
Nursed
Nurtured
Observed
Obtained
Offered
Officiated
Operated
Ordered
Organized
Originated
Overcame
Overhauled
Oversaw
Packed
Participated
Perceived
Perfected
Performed
Persuaded
Photographed
Piloted
Pinpointed
Placed
Planned
Predicted
Prepared
Prescribed
Presented
Presided
Printed
Problem solved
Processed
Procured
Produced

Programmed
Prohibited
Projected
Promoted
Prompted
Proofread
Proposed
Protected
Proved
Provided
Publicized
Published
Purchased
Questioned
Raised
Ran
Rated
Read
Reasoned
Received
Recommended
Reconciled
Recorded
Recruited
Rectified
Redesigned
Reduced
Referred
Regulated
Rehabilitated
Reinforced
Related
Removed
Rendered
Renewed
Reorganized
Repaired
Reported
Represented
Researched
Reshaped
Resolved
Responded
Responsible for
Restocked
Restored
Restructured

Retrieved
Revamped
Reversed
Reviewed
Revised
Satisfied
Saved
Scheduled
Screened
Searched
Secured
Selected
Separated
Sequenced
Served
Serviced
Settled
Set up
Shaped
Shared
Showed
Signaled
Simplified
Sketched
Sold
Solved
Sorted
Sought
Sparked
Spearheaded
Specified
Spoke in public
Staffed
Standardized
Stimulated
Stocked
Streamlined
Strengthened
Structured
Studied
Submitted
Succeeded
Summarized
Supervised
Supplied
Supported
Surveyed

Symbolized
Synthesized
Systematized
Tabulated
Tailored
Taped
Taught
Team built
Tended
Tested
Tightened
Traced
Tracked
Traded
Trained
Transcribed
Transferred
Transformed
Translated
Transmitted
Transported
Traveled
Trimmed
Tripled
Trouble shot
Turned around
Tutored
Typed
Uncovered
Understood
Unified
United
Unraveled
Updated
Upgraded
Used
Utilized
Validated
Verified
Visited
Volunteered
Washed
Weighed
Widened
Won
Worked
Wrote
18

Employment References
Below is an example of how you might format a reference page.
Remember: To have a Western staff member be able to speak on your behalf, fill out the “Reference
Release Form” on our website www.westerntc.edu/careerservices
Tip: It looks nice to copy and paste your heading and contact information on all three documents; your resume, your
cover letter and your reference page.

Your Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Phone Number(s)
E-Mail Address
Professional References
Reference Name
Reference Job Title
Reference Company Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Phone Number
E-Mail Address
Relationship: (i.e., Former Teacher, Past Supervisor, etc.)
Reference Name
Reference Job Title
Reference Company Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Phone Number
E-Mail Address
Relationship: (i.e., Former Teacher, Past Supervisor, etc.)
Reference Name
Reference Job Title
Reference Company Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Phone Number
E-Mail Address
Relationship: (i.e., Former Teacher, Past Supervisor, etc.)
19

How Does Your Résumé Check Out?
•

If it is two pages long, include a header on the second page that includes at least your last name and
the page number

•

The résumé contains plenty of white space and does not look crowded

•

The résumé is printed on good quality paper and with a letter quality printer

•

The résumé is printed on conservative colored paper, such as white, off-white or ivory

•

The résumé concentrates on accomplishments, achievements and transferable skills rather than job
duties of non-career related positions

•

Work experiences do not go back more than five to ten years

•

All descriptive statements begin with an action word

•

Use job and industry specific words and phrases

•

All tenses agree when referring to past or present descriptions of your accomplishments

•

Statements are clear and concise and emphasize accomplishments more so than duties

•

The résumé is an accurate reflection of employment interests and qualifications

•

The use of personal pronouns such as I, me, my, and mine are not used

•

High school education is not included on the résumé

•

There are no abbreviations with the exception of states, directions (N, S, E, and W), GPA, and
program related terminology. If your address normally has the street spelled out, do spell it out.

•

A matching reference page is included

•

The use of graphics is limited and appropriate

•

Three to four other people have proofread the résumé

•

There are no grammatical and spelling errors contained in the résumé

•

Personal information (age, height, weight, family status, etc.) is not included. Political or religious
affiliations are avoided unless they support the employment objective
20

Résumé Critique Guidelines
Layout/Appearance/Grammar:
Is the format clean and easy to read?
Are the margins no smaller than ½ inch and no more than one inch? Are they even?
Is there white space between categories?
Is the name in a larger font size (no larger than 24)?
Is the font easily readable and a common font type? (Examples: Arial/Times New Roman)
Is the font size appropriate? (10, 11, or 12 point)
Is the formatting consistent?
o Font types
o Bolded and italicized words
o Bullets (use standard dots or squares)
Is there identifying information, such as name and page number, on each page of the résumé and reference?
Do topic headings stand out?
Is the résumé free of grammatical errors and misspelled words? (Use Spell Check)
Are the verb tenses accurate and uniform?
Is the résumé free of all personal pronouns?
Are acronyms spelled out?
Do the most relevant experiences stand out?
Are the most important sections and items within the section listed first?
Are work experiences listed most recent first? If not, is there a reason?
Does each position description contain the same information in the same order? (Example: position title,
employer, city and state, dates)
Is the résumé printed on white or ivory paper?
Content:
Is the address, email and phone number correct? (No hyperlink on email)
If using an objective statement, does it project knowledge of the desired career field by using appropriate
phrasing? Is it specific and targeted?
Are schools, degrees, majors, minors, and/or areas of concentration/emphasis included?
If over a 3.0, has consideration been given to listing a major, major and minor or cumulative GPA?
Have all experiences and projects that demonstrate skills and accomplishments been included?
Are the categories/headings appropriate for career field/experiences and do they accurately reflect the content
of the section?
Are unique experiences such as internships or study abroad included/highlighted if relevant?
If applicable, are relevant certifications/licensures visible?
Have you included relevant community involvement or professional activities or memberships?
References should be listed on separate page and be professionally appropriate (i.e., no family members)
Are names, titles, places of employment, business telephone numbers and email addresses provided of
professionals who have agreed to serve as references?
Other Items to Question/Consider:
Could any of the items be enhanced with quantifiers or qualifiers?
Consider the implications of listing political, religious and/or other potentially controversial affiliations.
Can all items on the résumé be verified or expanded upon in an interview?

21

Cover Letter Basics and FAQ’s
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is used to introduce yourself and your interest in applying for a particular job to a prospective
employer. Applicants write cover letters to expand on their qualifications as they relate to the specific job
being applied for.

Why should I write a cover letter?
First, most employers, when asking for a résumé, expect that it will be accompanied by a cover letter. If a
résumé is sent to an employer without a cover letter, the employer may not necessarily know what position is
being sought after by the applicant and they may assume that the applicant is not seriously interested in
working for their organization. Second, a cover letter offers you the opportunity to add some personality to
an otherwise business-like résumé; it helps the employer get to know you better, which is your ultimate goal
throughout the job search process.

How do I know what to include in my cover letter?
There are many things that a cover letter should include and all of them should sell--not just tell--your
specific qualifications and skills. Listed below are some basic guidelines for writing your cover letter:
•

Each letter should be addressed to a specific name if possible

•

Your name and address should appear on your cover letter

•

The content should be individualized to meet the specific position requirements

•

Some but not all of the content should be similar to what is on your résumé

•

Length should not exceed one page

•

Paper should exactly match the paper used for your résumé

•

Have several people proofread your letter

Since my résumé is more important than my cover letter, shouldn’t I care more about
my résumé than my cover letter?
Similar to that of a résumé, your cover letter is a marketing tool to assist you in obtaining an interview. Even
if you have a flawless, wonderful résumé, the lack of commitment and attention to a cover letter may cause
potential employers to skip over you. Be sure that both your résumé and cover letter reflect you in a way that
you want a potential employer to view you.

22

Cover Letter Samples
The first sample contains the basic information and format to follow when creating your cover letter and the
2nd letter is what is sometimes referred to as a “T Cover Letter” which is designed to quickly show a recruiter
or hiring manager how you stack up against the job requirements.

Your Street Address
City, State Zip Code
November, 4, 2014
Ms./Mr. Important Person (always try to get a name to write to)(look company up or call receptionist)
Title or Department
Organization/Company Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Important Person:
Structure your cover (application) letters with three or four paragraphs. Use the first paragraph to come to the point. Reveal your
purpose and interest. Identify the position and your source of information (how you became aware of the opening). If you are
writing to inquire about possible openings, use the introductory paragraph to say so. Try to get the employer’s attention so that
they keep reading. Choosing words that convey sincere interest and motivation will help. For example, “It is with a great deal of
interest and enthusiasm that I write you to apply for the…” or “Your ad for the __________position caught my attention and has
held it since” or “I appear to be an excellent match for your current requirements”.
The second paragraph of your cover letter is the most important as you need to provide evidence of your related experiences and
accomplishments. Highlight specific qualifications you have that match the position requirements. Consider this the most
important sales pitch you will ever give. You may write your statements in actual paragraph format or you may choose to format
this information using bullet statements. For example:
“Highlights of my professional and educational background include the following:” or “Some of my key accomplishments include
the following:”
•
•
•

Add statements that stress achievements and that match the position you are applying for.

Suggest an action plan. Request an interview, and indicate that you will call during a specific time period to discuss interview
possibilities. Express appreciation to the reader for his or her time and consideration. Mention any enclosures: “Enclosed please
find my resume which will offer you a more complete understanding of my qualifications”. “I am interested in meeting with you
to discuss your needs for the _____position in more detail. I will call you on Tuesday, November 20, to follow-up on this
correspondence. If this method is too direct for you, you may simply state, “I look forward to hearing from you.”
Sincerely,
(sign above your typed name)
Your Typed Name
Enclosure(s)

23

		

T		Cover	Letter	Style	
	

Thomas	Anderson		
1313	Mockingbird	Lane	
Appleton,	WI		54915	
Andersont@students.westerntc.edu	
(608)	555-1234				
Bill	Jones	
National	Business	Employment	Weekly	
c/o	The	Wall	Street	Journal	
701	Page	Mill	Road	
Palo	Alto,	CA	94304	
	

Dear	Mr.	Jones:	
	

In	response	to	your	advertisement	dated	November	4,	2014	in	the	National	Business	Employment	Weekly,	for	“Vice	
President	of	Manufacturing,”	please	consider	the	following:	
	

YOUR	REQUIREMENTS	
Set	and	make	happen	aggressive	monthly	
shipping	plan	

MY	QUALIFICATIONS	
Over	eight	years	aggressive	
program/production	management	experience;	
PLANNED,	SCHEDULED,	COORDINATED,	
EXPEDITED	100+	electronic	defense	contracts,	
meeting	monthly	fab,	test	Q.C.,	shipping	
schedules	to	include	stateside/offshore	
subcontracting.	
	

Bring	continuous	stream	of	new	products	
from	engineering	release	to	production	
inventory	ready	to	ship	

Over	eight	years	of	aggressive	
COORDINATED/INTEGRATED	engineering	
configuration	manufacturing	new/prototype	&	
existing	designs	from	release	to	production	–	
stock	–	delivery	in	multi–project	environment.	
	

Plan	and	implement	a	cost	reduction	
program	that	has	major	influence	on	the	
company’s	performance	

IMPLEMENTED/MONITORED	earned	value	
system;	recovered	$1M	loss;	INITIATED	
economies	–	of	–	scale	production;	increased	
2%	loss	to	10%	profit	for	business	segment.	
	

Maintain	the	company’s	reputation	for	
providing	quality	products	

INTEGRATED/MONITORED	engineering,	
manufacturing,	quality	activities;	CONDUCTED	
CCB	reviews;	won	follow	–	on	contracts.	

	

Enclosed	is	my	resume	for	consideration.	
	

Sincerely,	
	
	
Thomas	Anderson	
Enclosure	

24

The Thank-You Note and other suggestions for
following up after the interview
Mail a thank you note within 24-48 hours of your interview to every person who interviewed you. Email is ok, but
make sure you are as professional as possible in format and wording. Use the thank you note to reiterate your interest
and emphasize your specific qualifications for the position – focusing on what you can do for the company. Thank
you notes can be typed or neatly handwritten. If you hand write, use a Thank-You card rather than resume paper. See
sample below. The middle paragraph can re-state why you feel you are the best person for the job.
Follow-up: Making a follow up call after an interview reinforces that you are interested in the job.

Your Address
Date
Ms. or Mr. Interviewer
ABC Company
123 Street
Anytown, WI 55555
Ms. or Mr. Interviewer:
Thank you for your time and consideration during our meeting yesterday. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more
about ABC’s marketing needs.
In addition, I was especially impressed with the new computerized approach to ABC’s mass marketing endeavors. I
feel my experience with this particular software package will be a great benefit to your department.
Again, I am very interested in working with ABC Company as a Marketing Assistant. If accepted for this position, I
would be available to start within two weeks. You may reach me at 608-555-5555 should you have any additional
questions. A reply from you would be most appreciated.
Sincerely,
	
	
	
Your	Name	

25

Other Helpful Tips
Concerning formatting:
Generally speaking, the Education category should come before your Work Experience for a new graduate.
However, if you have related work experience, it may be more appropriate to list your Work Experience
category before Education.

Concerning educational categories:
•

List your education in reverse chronological order. Degrees and licenses should be listed first,
followed by certificates and other professional development.

•

Degrees should be written out with the exception of the following well-recognized degrees: BS, BA,
MD, and PhD.

•

Include only the month and year of graduation from college. There is no need to include the years
attended.

•

If you want to include information about a college degree or degrees you didn’t finish, start with a
phrase describing your major, then the name of school and the dates attended. You don’t want to
look like you started a lot of things that you didn’t finish so if you had several stops and starts at
college without completing a degree, you may choose to leave some of that off your résumé and only
include relevant training and education that you have completed.

Concerning employment categories:
•

Include only city and state of jobs held. There is no need to include the street address and zip code.

•

Generally, jobs should be listed in reverse chronological order. One exception is when you pull out
related work experience that is relevant to your present job objective. List them separately under a
category titled Relevant or Related Work History.

•

Do not go into detail about jobs that are not related to present career objective.

•

Include just the month and year or the year to year for your dates of employment. Do not list the
exact day you started and finished.

If you would like your résumé reviewed by our office, please contact (608) 785-9440 to schedule an
appointment with a Career Services staff member. If possible, please email your résumé as well to
careerservices@westerntc.edu immediately after you schedule an appointment so a staff member can review
your résumé before the scheduled appointment.
26

Debunking Common Résumé Myths
Adapted from Allyson Quibell, former WetFeet editor
Edited for space purposes
There is no one best way to write a résumé; there are no absolutes. Every career counselor and recruiter has
his or her own take on résumé writing. Even the formatting you use and the positions you list depend on the
industry, the specific job, and your experience. But amid all the potentially conflicting opinions, there is
some agreement on common résumé myths.
1. Your résumé must be only one page
False. “Your résumé should be as long as needed in order to get your concise message across with zip and
punch,” says Joyce Lain Kennedy, careers columnist and author of Résumés for Dummies. If your
experience and background justifies two or more pages, so be it. Recent graduates shouldn’t go beyond one
page, but senior executives with decades of experience will probably need at least two pages.
2. Prospective employers don’t read cover letters.
False. “Remember that anything you send is part of an image you’re projecting,” says Laura Dominguez
Chan, Stanford University career counselor. “If nothing else, your cover letter shows your writing
skills…and if all the candidates for the position really are top notch, it could be the cover letter that lands you
the job.”
3. Résumés should include and describe your entire work history.
False. Your résumé is a sales piece, a personal marketing tool. Take time to consider what skills the position
requires. It’s likely that a part-time job you took for a few months isn’t going to be relevant or impressive.
Unless you need to cover a significant time gap, it’s wise to include only those jobs that will showcase your
ability to excel in the position for which you’re applying. Volunteer and other non-paid positions can be just
as valuable as paid ones---especially if you’re a recent graduate or are re-entering the workforce after an
absence. Use your résumé format to communicate volunteer work as experience.
4. It’s okay to fib on your résumé.
False. If you think “blowing smoke on your résumé---inflating grades, inventing degrees, concocting job
titles---is risk free because nobody checks, you’re wrong,” says Joyce Lain Kennedy. Employers do check,
and those fibs will catch up with you.”
5. If your résumé is good enough, it will produce a job offer.
False. Your résumé is only one part of the process. Its job is to land you an interview. “Once you get the
interview,” says Joyce Lain Kennedy, “you are what gets you a job---your skills, your savvy, your
personality, your attitude.”

27

Submitting Your Résumé and Cover Letter
When you are ready to submit your résumé and cover letter, be cognizant of how the employer wants to
receive them. While one company may want the résumé and cover letter sent by mail only, another company
may accept them over email as attachments. Listed below are some things to keep in mind when submitting
your résumé and cover letter.
By mail
•
•
•
•

Do not staple your résumé and your cover letter together.
Instead of folding your résumé and cover letter into a traditional envelope, send them in a
9x12 envelope. This will keep your résumé and cover letter crisp and free of folds.
Use labels for the addresses instead of handwriting them.
Be sure to put enough postage on the envelope! If you have any doubt, bring the envelope to a
post office to ensure a safe and timely delivery.

By email or through online applications
•
•
•

•

Be aware of whether or not the employer would prefer the documents as attachments or part
of the body of an email.
If you are submitting the résumé and cover letter as attachments, remember to put them in
formats that are compatible to a variety of software, such as a .pdf or as a .rtf (rich text
format).
If you are submitting the résumé and cover letter as attachments, be sure to give the file a
specific name. Instead of myrésumé.pdf, name the file john-p-walker-résumé.pdf or
aliceanelson-coverletter.rtf. This will differentiate your materials from other applicants’
materials and tell the hiring personnel that you are thoughtful and considerate.
Don’t forget to actually attach the documents to the email

In person
•
•
•

Similar to submitting your résumé and cover letter by mail, do not staple your résumé and
cover letter together.
Although optional, put your résumé and cover letter in a 9 x 12 envelope. This ensures
that the résumé and cover letter are not lost.
Dress and groom appropriately--you never know who you may run into when you go and
submit your résumé and cover letter.

	

28