Tips for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interview Preparation

Resume Tips

Make your first impression a positive one.
Your resume is the first point of contact with the employer in which you are interested in working for. Therefore, it is important that you create a resume that makes you stand out in the crowd.

Resume Writing Tips

  • Determine your job search objective before writing the resume
  • Make sure your name stands out
  • Think of your resume as a marketing tool!
  • Use your resume to obtain an interview
  • Use bulleted sentences (point form)
  • Use action words
  • Utilize bolding to make important information stand out (ex:
    position titles and degrees)
  • Lead with your strengths
  • Include key words listed in the job ad in your resume
  • Use your professional jargon (industry specific terms)
  • Focus on what you have to offer - the positives
  • Do not mention deficiencies - the negatives
  • Provide an overview of your knowledge and accomplishments, not going into too much depth in one area
  • Use #'s, $'s and %'s to demonstrate achievements
  • Indicate positions of responsibility (ex: reporting to the General Manager)
  • Make your resume visually appealing (symmetrical and consistent)and easy to read, important information should stand out
  • Have your name and page number on subsequent pages if resume is longer than one page
  • Have someone proofread your resume
  • Combine with a cover letter that really concentrates on your relevant qualifications and directs the resume to the contact person
  • Expect great results

Sample Resume

Sample Resume Headings and Action Statements

 

Cover Letter Tips

Show them why this job is for you.

A ONE PAGE cover letter should always accompany your resume and address the following three points:

  1. Introduce yourself and say where you saw their advertisement.
  2. Demonstrate how you are qualified for the advertised job.
  3. Ask for an interview to discuss your qualifications.

Items to Keep in Mind
Use complete title, full address and correct spelling.
Address the letter to the person who has the power to hire you.
Do not over use the pronoun "I".

"Sell Yourself!"
Organize the contents of these paragraphs to suit your needs, placing emphasis on your most pertinent attributes and skills.
If you meet all of the stated requirements, spell this out in your letter.

Be assertive and ask for an interview.
Or state that you will be in touch and then remember to follow up.

SIGN YOUR LETTER!!

Indicate that your resume is enclosed.

Interview Tips

The interview is your chance to demonstrate to the employer that you are the right candidate for the job. In order to succeed in your interview, make sure you prepare.

Before the Interview

  • Get inside the employer's shoes - What do employers care about?Interpersonal skills and other personal characteristics.
  • Research the job and the organization - Learn about the nature of the job (ask if a written job description is available.) Talk to others. Visit the company website or read printed materials. Just make sure you understand what the job entails.
  • Anticipate the questions and practice - Almost all questions will be about you - your goals, skills, work attitudes, education, expectations. No one knows more about this subject than you.
  • Practice will help.
  • Stress specificity - Back up any claims you make with specific examples. Example: A company that values teamwork may ask you tell about a time you worked on a project as part of a group. Then you will proceed with specifics. What exactly was your role?What contribution did you make? How do you know the project was successful?
  • Behavioural interviews stress specific experiences you've had - Arm yourself with facts that prove your merit.
  • Don't fear technical questions - These questions are asked to see if you are familiar with a particular technique or process.
  • PRACTICE!

During The Interview

  • First impressions count - Be on time and look professional.
  • Start strong - Begin on a positive note.
  • Send the right behavioural signals - Relax and be yourself. Establish eye contact to show self-confidence.
  • Communicate carefully - Take your time. If you need clarification, ask for it. It's okay to pause, reflect, and get your act together before you start talking.
  • Appear enthusiastic - Speak with some enthusiasm. Raise your eyebrows when talking. A smile here and there is also nice.
  • Participate, don't dominate - Let the employer set the tempo. Expect to do at least half of the talking.
  • Ask questions - At some point you will be asked if you have any questions. Prepare specific questions for each interview so you look interested in the position. You can always start with "I noticed on your website..." and then ask for an elaboration.

After the Interview

  • Keep notes
  • Write a thank you letter
  • Stay in pursuit.
  • Don't wait too long.
Common Interview Questions
The Ice breakers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your hobbies and outside interests?
  • What do you do with your free time?
  • What kind of volunteer activities are you involved in?
  • Outside of work, what experiences have influenced you the most?
  • What are your short term/long term goals? How are you planning to achieve them?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
Education related
  • How do you feel your educational experiences have prepared you for your career?
  • Why did you choose your particular program of study/major?
  • What were your most rewarding experiences in school?
  • How were your grades? Why were your grades not better?
  • How much weight should we place on your grades in terms of making a hiring decision?
  • What was your favourite class? Least favourite?
  • What did you learn in school that would be helpful on the job?
  • What activities were you involved in beyond campus?
Work experience related
  • Describe your previous boss.
  • Why did you leave your previous job?
  • What has been your most rewarding job so far?
  • Why have you changed jobs so often?
  • What was your greatest accomplishment in your last job?
  • What experience do you have doing this type of work?
Position related
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • How long would you stay with us?
  • Who can we contact as references?
  • How long would it take you to learn what we do?
  • What skills do you possess which you think make you the ideal candidate for this position?
Personal qualities
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses? In what areas do you think you need to grow?
  • What do you feel is your greatest achievement to date and why?
  • What 3 words would your friends/co-workers/supervisor use to describe you?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
Behavioural Questions
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a decision because you did not have enough information.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
  • How did you make the decision to come to this university and major in _______ ?
  • Describe an occasion when you included others in your decision making. To what extent did you incorporate their input?
  • Give an example of your ability to build motivation in your co-workers, even if on a volunteer committee.
  • What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from?
  • Have you ever been a member of a group where two of the members did not work well together? How did you handle the situation?
  • Give an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Tell me about an important goal that you set in the past that you successfully reached.
  • Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the actions of others,
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  • Describe the most important document, report, or presentation that you have completed. 
  • Give me an example of a time when you were successfully able to communicate with another person, even when that individual may not have personally liked you.
  • Have you ever had to sell an idea to your co-workers or group? How did you do it?
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to effectively read another person and guide your actions by your understanding of their needs or values.
  • What have you done in past situations to contribute towards a teamwork environment?
  • Tell me about the most difficult and frustrating individual that you have ever had to work with and how you managed to work with them.
  • How do you decide what gets top priority when managing your time?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were under pressure to meet a deadline and how you handled the situation?
How to Write a Thank You Letter

Show them your appreciation

After a job interview, it is important to send a thank you letter to the employer to show your appreciation and interest in the position. A thank you letter should be sent within 24 hours of the interview. When interviewed in a group setting, be sure to send each interviewer a thank you note. And remember, even after a second interview, it is important to send a thank you letter again. Sample.

Thank You Letter Writing Tips

  • Align all information to the left or the page.
  • Single space your letter and leave a space between groups of information and the paragraphs.
  • Center the letter in the middle of the page, ensuring that the spaces at the bottom and top of the page are equal.
  • Use standard margins (i.e. 1") all around the cover letter.
  • Alternately, hand-write a thank-you note using the format below.
  • Leave three spaces between the salutation and your typed name
    for your signature.

 

If you are seeking help with your Resume or Cover Letter we are here to help you.

Thunder Bay Resume Help

Have your resume critiqued by professionals!

  • Students who are seeking a Resume or Cover Letter critique can schedule an appointment through the Student Success Centre by calling 807-343-8018 or by sending an email to ssc@lakeheadu.ca.

    Please have a copy of your current Resume and Cover Letter prepared and forward a copy to ssc@lakeheadu.ca prior to your appointment.

Orillia Resume Help
If you are seeking help with your Resume or Cover Letter we are here to help you.
  • Students at the Orillia campus can email cover letters and/or resumes to or employ@lakeheadu.ca. After an initial review, students will be asked to make an in-person appointment to receive feedback.

    Please send all documents you wish to be reviewed as attachments via your Lakehead email account.

    *Note: Resumes critiques are generally completed within 48 hours but this time may vary depending on the volume of traffic.