Erica Cardenas

Got your diploma? Now what?

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Now what about your résumé, cover letter and references? What can you do to make sure you’re on the right track to making a good first impression?

Your résumé and cover letter are often the first contact you have with your prospective employer, so it’s important to make the best possible impression by carefully crafting your message. Remember to take advantage of your university or school’s career services center to help you.

ASU’s Career Services offers students an abundance of tips for crafting résumés and employment letters. In fact, they’re actually partnering with JobSpice, an online résumé builder, to provide a variety of preferred styles to help students and grads create their résumés.

Once you log on to JobSpice, you can view these preferred styles, create one or more résumés, and then take them to a career services advisor to review. Résumés created on JobSpice can be easily uploaded to job boards and emailed to potential employers. You can even create a website for your résumé from your JobSpice account. And there is no fee for current ASU students.

Also, now available for current ASU students and alumni is a Résumé Drop Box, an online portal that allows the user to provide Career Services with electronic copies of résumés, cover letters, personal statements for graduate and professional schools, scholarship essays, and writing samples for employment applications. A career advisor will review the submission and provide feedback electronically within two business days.

As to what to avoid in your résumé, let’s visit some common mistakes, as provided by ASU’s Career Services Center.

First, you don’t want to make your résumé too long or too short. One page is recommended for a new college graduate unless he or she has an extensive work history.

How’s your grammar? Disorganized, misspelled words and poor formatting are often common blunders and take away from any graphic impact. Have someone proofread your documents. The look of your résumé may create a visual impression, but if the content is full of typos, that impression will stop there.

An accepted standard in résumé writing is the omission of words like I, me or my. Bullet points that describe your work experience are always sentence fragments, because they do not have I as the subject. For example, instead of writing “I was responsible for daily tasks such as …” the standard would be “Responsible for daily tasks such as …” Personal information that is illegal to ask during interviews should not be included on your résumé, such as marital status, race, religion, etc.

What about including unrelated and irrelevant personal information in your résumé? Stay clear of that one, too.

Once you’ve edited your résumé, don’t get carried away with flashy formatting or nonstandard fonts or graphics. Unless you’re applying with an organization known to be highly unconventional, a very professional approach is your best bet.

When it comes to your cover letter, know whom to address it to – many résumés land on the wrong person’s desk or directed to the department in the organization. Confirm in advance to whom to send your résumé and cover letter for the job you want.

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