Khethwen Woo, one of my graduate students, wrote to the NMPD department yesterday. She’s now in a hiring position at Mount Royal, and passed on this very good list of tips regarding resumes and cover letters, which deserves to be quoted in full:
My organization has a yearly summer internship program that has included SAIT’s NMPD students as part of the job posting. I have been involved in three cycles of hiring for our summer interns and have seen many resumes. I’ve noticed some common mistakes in many of these resumes and I wanted to compile a list of helpful tips for better resumes for you to pass to your students. As a former NMPD student, I’m aware of the skills that your students possess and, as an industry professional, would like to see their resumes reflect their talent. These tips are specifically for things that I have noticed in response to our job postings, but will be helpful for cover letters and resumes in general.
Always include a properly formatted cover letter with your resume, even if the job advertisement doesn’t explicitly say to include one. Writing a few sentences in the email you use to send your resume does not count as a cover letter. If you don’t know how to format a cover letter, there are plenty of resources online to look at.
Name the person you are addressing the cover letter to. This is easy to do, especially when the name of the person is on the job posting. Use “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Name of Person”. Don’t address the person with Hi, Hey, Hello there, Greetings etc. If you don’t know the name of the person you need to send your resume to, try to find it!
In your cover letter, don’t tell me how my organization will help to benefit your skills and future. Tell me how you can help my organization out.
Check, double check, triple check for typos, punctuation and grammar! If I see any of these mistakes, I’ll trash your application. Have someone else proofread your documents.
If English is not your first language, get someone who has a good understanding of English to proofread your documents.
Don’t submit references and/or academic transcripts with your resume. Submit them only if requested.
Make sure you actually attach your cover letter and resume with your email. If you forget, I won’t have time to request them from you again.
When designing your cover letter and resume, it looks better when they match. Don’t send documents that look like they came from two different people.
This is my personal pet peeve: don’t title your digital file of your resume as resume.file extension and your cover letter as cover letter.file extension. At least title it with your last name. When I need to download 30+ resumes, having to rename your file is a pain. I’m going to remember that I had to rename your file. I’m also sure there are times that I’ve accidentally saved over someone’s resume.doc with someone else’s resume.doc.
If you can only submit your resume digitally, print your cover letter and resume to see what they will look like on paper. This will help you to see if there are any formatting/design issues.
Be creative in designing your cover letter and resume, but just remember good design doesn’t make up for a badly written cover letter and resume.