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Resumes & Cover Letters

Are you starting to search for a job? There are some important things you'll need to prepare to show yourself off to potential employers.

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To apply for a job, you will need to submit a resume and cover letter. These documents explain your skills, qualifications, past experience and enthusiasm for the job you are seeking. They are extremely important for getting the job you want!

Resume building

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A resume is a document that shows your experience and qualifications. It should include:

  • Contact information – your full name, phone number and email address.
  • Work and volunteer experience – your previous and current job or volunteer titles, duties, key successes and dates you had that position.
    • Tip: use action words to describe your experience, for example: wrote, analyzed, explained, reported, organized, scheduled, aided, acted, operated. (Google “Resume Action Words).
    • Don’t have much experience, yet? Don’t worry! Everyone has to start somewhere. Check out this resource for tips.
  • Related skills – skills and certifications for specific jobs, computer skills and trades credentials.
  • Education – post-secondary credit and non-credit programs and courses.
    • Tip: if you’re a recent high school graduate, give your graduation date and the courses you completed that are relevant to the job.
  • Awards and achievements – work-related, academic and community awards.
  • Memberships – in professional, business-related, school or community groups.
  • References – people who will back up or vouch for your skills and speak positively about the quality of your work. Make sure you ask for permission from your references before including them.

To see examples of resumes for different types of jobs, check out the Simon Fraser University resume example page. Your resume should be related to the specific area you’re applying for. If you are building your resume now, check out this free resume builder.

Writing your cover letter

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A cover letter is a letter you write to the hiring manager. In it, you explain how your experiences and skills make you qualified for the job. Be sure to look carefully at the job posting you are applying for when you write your cover letter. The posting will usually tell you the skills and experiences the employer is looking for. You will want to talk about how you have developed the skills they are seeking. The job posting may tell you who the hiring person is. If it does, you will want to address your cover letter to this person. If it does not, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager”.

Be short and to the point in your cover letter. They are usually less than a page long. Make sure you proofread what you write to help you fix any errors in spelling or grammar so you will give your employer a good impression of you. If you are building a cover letter now, check out this free cover letter template builder.

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.