By: Julia Bellotti
While resumes are very straightforward in theory, they are challenging to compose correctly. Resumes are intended to highlight your past experiences, skills, and education to introduce yourself to a potential employer.
Similar to the cover letter, there are a myriad of resources that can provide different information regarding the format, length, and content of a resume. I sat down with expert recruiter, Gayle Levin, current Director of Human & Resource Management at Schreiber Translations, Inc., with 20+ years experience in HR, to learn what recruiters really look for in a resume.
Each category below is broken into general advice and the expert’s advice. Expert advice has been paraphrased. Sample resume formats are located at the end.
Your resume should look clean. Your name and contact information should be at the top of the page. Your name should be in slightly larger text to stand out. There should be headings for each section: Summary/Objective, Education, Experience, Skills, and Awards/Certifications. All jobs listed should have the company name, location, your title, and dates worked in a Month/Year format. You should have a white background. Your font should be easy to read. You should have ½ inch – 1-inch margins so that if/when your resume is printed, no text is cut off. Every bullet point should have a period at the end. Some recruiters can only spend 30 seconds looking at your resume so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to read what you want them to know about you.
Expert Advice: Keep it clean. Creative fonts and images can distract the reader. Do not include a photo of yourself, your family, etc. Do include your address! Or at the very least, include your city and state. Many companies cannot afford to pay for relocation, so it helps them know that you are already local.
Format and Style:
There are two main formats of resumes: chronological and functional. A chronological resume highlights your past positions in order from the most to the least recent. Experience would be the primary section of a chronological resume. This is great for someone who’s had steady employment or many years of experience. A functional resume highlights your skills and abilities rather than when you did them. The Interview Guys recommend using a functional resume if you’re trying to switch industries or may have gaps in your work history. You can also use a combination of the two, but this is less common.
Expert Advice: The traditional thinking in HR on functional resumes is that they’re hiding something. I prefer the chronological resume because you can’t go wrong with it. That being said, you want to tailor the style to the company you’re applying for.
You may have heard that resumes should only be one page. You may have also heard they can be two or more pages. This is where it’s up to you. Your resume should be as long as you want it to be in order to convey to a recruiter your experience and skills. I do not recommend going more than 2 pages. Remember, they may still only have 30 seconds to read it. However, the good news with today’s technology is that your resume can link to your LinkedIn profile or other personal website that includes more details of your experience.
Expert Advice: Many companies use online submission systems where length is not a factor since recruiters can’t tell from a webpage what one “page” is. Yes, it’s ultimately up to the applicant on whether they do a 1-page or 2-page resume.
Even if your resume is expertly formatted, you need to sound interesting and qualified enough to get that interview! Under each job position, in perfect grammar, you want to include what you did and your accomplishments. Each bullet point needs to be a “wow” bullet point.
Take the following examples:
These 3 examples definitely tell the recruiter something about what this person did. They used active verbs, which are highly recommended, but these are not “wow” bullets. How many counterfeit bills did they identify? What does “good working environment” mean? Can anything be elaborated?
Here are their “wow” versions:
You can immediately see the changes. In general, all the author did was elaborate and provide specific details. She clarified questions the reader may have about her job position, and she completely rewrote the 3rd bullet point to detail an accomplishment instead of a job duty. That says a lot more to a recruiter than what her job description was. Every bullet point you put needs to be a “wow” bullet point.
Your resume needs to be tailored to the company and position you’re applying for. Similar to the cover letter, you will need to have separate resumes for each position you apply for. If you’re applying for the same type of position at several companies, there won’t be too much variation in your resume versions. Still, everything on your resume needs to be relevant to the position. Are you applying for a graphic design position? Your paid college internship as a sports writer might be better replaced by volunteer design work you did for a local non-profit.
Your resume also needs to be completely devoid of any typos. I cannot emphasize this enough. There’s nothing like a great resume with spelling mistakes all over the place. It tells the recruiter you didn’t care enough about the position to take five seconds to click “check spelling.”
Expert Advice: Don’t simply copy and paste the job description. If your resume is going into an automated applicant tracking system where key words are highly valued, there are definitely ways to incorporate key words into your resume without copying and pasting the job description.
Action verbs are good, but make sure to vary them. You don’t want to constantly be saying you managed something. Accomplishments are always good to mention, especially in any sales-type positions. If you use “we”, recruiters know that you personally didn’t really do whatever you’re saying you did. You can elaborate without embellishing. We know that if you were only at a school for a year, it’s highly unlikely you were president of an organization.
We want to see that you’ve taken the time to look over your resume and that it aligns with what you’re looking for. I will actually forgive one or two typos in a resume. I know that everyone makes some mistakes. However, any more than that is a red flag.
Should I include…?
…A clean, but fancy font?
With the varying computer operating systems, be mindful of the font that you’re using. Try sending a copy of your resume from a Mac to a PC and vice versa. Does it stay the same? You may notice it’s one page on one device, but shows up as two pages on another.
…My college GPA?
Expert Advice: In certain industries such as research or science and technology, GPA and school matters. IF you want to put your GPA on, make sure it’s a good one.
…My job as a camp counselor/retail worker/grocery cashier?
Expert Advice: Yes! I like when applicants include the not-so-glamorous jobs because it shows they worked hard.
…My interests and hobbies?
This really depends on the company. You can usually get a feel from your research about a company if they would be the type of people that would appreciate your interests. If they’re relevant to the position, then by all means include them but do not go overboard.
Expert Advice: You should put something that will connect you to the reader. Maybe you were in a leadership position in your sorority or fraternity. Maybe you did a sport for over 10 years. These things tell the recruiter a little bit more about you as a person.
If you have any further questions for our expert, Gayle Levin, comment below! She is also open to receiving questions through her LinkedIn found here. Her final piece of advice is “Make sure your resume matches your LinkedIn profile!” Good luck and happy job hunting!
Renter's insurance how to efficiently cook for one. I had so much food waste from cooking large meals (I lived with 4 girls in college) and then I over compensated by eating out for every meal. It took me about 2 years to really figure it out!
Put money in your 401K immediately, especially if your company matches.
Travel as much as you possibly can.
Spend as much time with your friends as you possibly can because pretty soon everyone's lives will get really busy and it becomes much harder for everyone to get together.
Save as much money as you can (set up a bank account that a certain % of your salary goes into and you never touch except for emergencies).
Don't be scared to take risks in your career - they will always be scary, but they're a hell of a lot scarier when you have a family to support.
To budget by paycheck, not monthly.
Start building a savings account. You never know when you're going to need it (or when you're going to lose your job). Save for 3 months of expenses was the advice I got. Came in handy once, so this was good advice. It's hard to put money away.
Set up a direct deposit that goes straight into a savings and put in like $10 a paycheck (or even $5) - I did this and would edit the money based on current finances. I saved so much and you really don't miss it!
Be able to leave a job with no place to go and have time to find another without worrying about living expenses.
Save as much money as you can, the alcohol is not worth it! Being hungover at work is not always worth the "good times" the night before.
If you want to take a risk, do it. If you want to travel, do it.
DO NOT STAY IN A RELATIONSHIP YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN'T BE IN!!!
Meal prepping! I have only adopted this seriously in the last year - but I have noticed I'm saving money, actually seeing physical progress I haven't seen before, and overall feeling accomplished weekly.
Don't overspend on credit. It will haunt you down on the road. But, definitely start building up credit in a good way.
Invest in quality, staple clothing, especially for work. I’ve thrown out so many shirts/pants that were cheap and wore out quickly - such a waste.
Now would be the time to take risks and make mistakes. I wish I had taken more risks because the outcomes, whether good or bad, taught me so much. Also, it's ok to break up any type of relationship that's toxic to you. There are friends that I kept around a lot longer than I should have, and my other friendships are so much stronger now.
Follow your gut. It's almost always right. If something feels wrong or off or if it feels really right, pay attention. Your intuition gets stronger!
To not be too much of a pushover.
Set up autopay for your bills NOW! Not worth the headache, worry on a monthly basis, or potential hit on your credit score if you forget something.
Spend only what you have to pay in credit cards - and pay in full every month. 13+% compounds quickly.
Max out your 401k and start putting money into it ASAP!
This is a little vague but, to always ask for exactly what you want. And also confirm things. I'm pretty chill, always have been. But there are things you need to be firm with, like work, salary negotiations, healthcare, car things, rent, etc. And it was awkward at first because I felt like I was inconveniencing people, but I wanted to be happy living my life!
People want to help. The trick is knowing who to ask and when.
Get over keeping up with the jones' and be comfortable admitting you can't afford something. I see so many college grads blow ALL their money on going out and a designer bag and a car lease they can't afford... then 5 years later are back with their parents.
Make a point to keep in touch with your college/pre-adulthood friends, even if they don't seem super into it. All too often, people just get caught up in their own stuff, but hearing from a good friend is ALWAYS worth the time. I try to send my college and high school besties cute little cards every so often. It shows them I still love them and think about them, even if they're busy with work/S.O.s/school/moving around AND it gives me an excuse to constantly be on top of my address book. I like having their addresses, knowing where they are, etc. My friends rarely respond right away, but when they get around to it they're grateful to know I still care for them.
I would have bought a condo with two bedrooms as an investment! One room for me, one room to rent out to help pay the mortgage. Then kept it as an investment property. So much money went to rent! I should have paid myself.
Be selfish! Go out of your comfort zone! Travel / live abroad if that's something that interests you. That is my biggest regret. Now that I'm married and looking to start a family soon, spontaneity and/or moving to another city isn't really an option anymore because I have someone else to consider as well.
IF you are fortunate to have a job straight out of college, start paying student loans immediately- that 6 month jump is worth it.
Yes to savings! If you can buy a house, do it....don't throw away rent for years and years!
Travel and travel a lot! Life starts to change as you get older....relationships/kids can make it difficult to do everything you want to do.
Friendships...they change. This was a tough one for me to accept.
Take care of yourself...find your own happiness and don't depend on jobs or relationships to make you happy always. You need to make your own happiness!
"Networking" isn't a scary or intimidating thing to do, it just means chatting with people, asking questions, being friendly, exchanging contact info and staying in touch...and it's really incredibly important and something you should try to do often!
Don't waste money eating lunch out. Seriously cook as many of your meals as possible. It will save you so much money and is so much healthier.
Everything is a negotiation. Always negotiate salary.
You won't have professors and authority figures standing around to give you feedback or grade what you do. Figure out how to assess your own progress/success/failure. That way you can tell when someone's assessment of you is wrong, and when to be grateful for helpful feedback.
Be proactive in asking for feedback! I do this with my superiors and it shows I value their insights and that I want to be the best I can be. No need to wait until scheduled yearly reviews or mid years. I touch base about once a quarter to get a pulse on where I'm at and where I can improve.
Pay off your student loans ASAP. Travel! Have fun, don't take yourself too seriously, be comfortable in your own skin.
Realize that you need to "put your time in" at your job - you won't be top of the ladder as soon as you graduate - you have to earn it. Also, if you're going down an path and don't like it, change it. You are never too old to change career paths!
Making and maintaining adult friendships is a lot harder than in college. It'll feel weird and sometimes lonely for a bit, but it'll be ok.
Negotiate your salary! Travel for sure!
Pay a little more for the apartment with a washer and dryer.
What to look for when renting an apartment. I knew some basics but didn't think to bring a phone charger so I could test each outlet, etc.
Pay off loans when you can. Save when you can. And there's no shame in asking for help when you're struggling to figure out your finances. There's a lot to it and it can be beneficial to get insight from professionals.
You have to invest in yourself and figure out what you need to be happy. Make time for you. 401K. Investment opportunities and saving for retirement.
Buy quality over quantity. Coats, shoes, clothes in general, home decor, etc. I wasted so much money trying to be fashionable...and have since ditched it all (cringing the whole time at all that money down the drain).
Travel more! Avoid credit cards. Save!
Watch credit card debt.
Travel. Don't be too worried about "tomorrow" because time goes by fast enjoy today.
You don't need a SO. It will happen. Enjoy learning who you are.
If you're looking to grow both personally and within your career, just going to work for ~8hrs a day is not enough. Take a few hours a week or on the weekends to learn something new, take a class, or read a book that teaches you something. For extra motivation, join or create a group of people with the same goal! save.
It's okay to be at a different point in your life than your friends, and it's okay to be at different maturity levels, and it's okay to cut people out of your life that are not good for you (mentally and physically) and most importantly .... it's okay to be upset about all of this.
Try to create balance in your life and recognize that things like your career, SO, social life, etc., are all pieces to a bigger picture. You can't put all of your energy into just one of these things.
Don't stay at a job that you are miserable at. Don't rush "growing up," enjoy the moment you're in and relish in the lack of responsibility because you'll look back at those days fondly and realize you had no idea how easy you had it then!
The biggest thing I have to remember as an "adult" is that it's not a race! And that "comparison is the thief of joy". Just do you and try not to benchmark yourself against your peers (even though its hard not to!).
Make and stick to a budget within your means. Avoid debt like the plague. Save no less than 10% of your income. Max out the contributions to your retirement account and never borrow from it to pay off debt. Buy a house ASAP. Invest in rental properties; either regular ones or vacation rentals.
Don't wait until <insert life conditions or status here> to do what you want to do — buy a house, travel with friends, everything you want to do, just do it. Don't waste time on video games or Facebook or other escape mechanisms.
You'd be amazed how much valuable stuff you can learn by reading books or taking classes that will dramatically improve your life, where those other things won't.
It will be hard, especially if you are a perfectionist like me. you may see others who seem to be transitioning well or getting a job right away, trust me they are just as confused as you may be. Don't compare yourself!
Negotiate your salary and benefits. When you do it at the correct time during the hiring process, the worst they can say is no, they won't just say okay we can't hire you. You're worth it!
Take time to reflect on what relationships grow you and what relationships drain you.
Start saving for your future now! Yes, do not live beyond your means and save a dollar from every 20 you earn.
I feel like I had this preconceived notion that once I graduated and starting working I would get a better sense of what I wanted to be doing with my life and career, and eventually I would have it all figured out. Here's the beautiful thing: no one ever has it all figured out in terms of career, love, or life. The secret is to find your people, activities, or daily joys that get you through the best days and the worst days.
Live frugally and save your money. As you get raises, bank the difference and continue to live as you did on your old salary. Don't spend your money before you have it. It's the easiest way to fall behind very quickly on your finances. Create a budget, know your expenses, and know how much money you're working with every month or bi-weekly. (Base it around your pay schedule).
Start an emergency fund. The earlier you start putting money away into retirement, the more you'll have later on. Take advantage of your employer's 401k match.
Get your oil changed regularly and check your tires. AutoZone will check the lights and fluids.
Spend time with your elders, parents and grands. Really listen to their stories. Ask about family history. Ask them whatever but take the time to be present. They will appreciate it now and you will appreciate it even more when they are gone.
Know how to say 'no' to plans and take time for yourself when you need it.
Paying extra towards debt when you can, interest rates will gouge you.
Don't be afraid to take risks and get outside your comfort zone. Life is too short and wonderful to live the same day twice!
Find things you enjoy doing alone/for yourself. It's weird not to always have people around and you have to learn to make yourself happy being alone.
If you have a gut feeling something is wrong, it probably is. Don't waste time persuading away red flags and bad feelings.
Finances in general, interning more/networking more. If you have student loans, pay extra in so you’re actually getting your principal amount down! Also, get credit a credit card and use it like it's cash, pay it off every week so you will not gain interest. If you get one with no annual fee, you are essentially getting cash back for everyday purchases. I have Chase Freedom and a Discover Card and get cash back all the time.
Different student loan repayment options, how to apply for an apartment, establishing credit.
Chase YOUR dreams, not things that other people think are best for you. Save money, live on 50% of your income, save 30%, and have adventures with 20%. Be nice to everyone and don't expect many to be nice to you.
Get in the habit of writing in a gratitude journal when things are good so you can still come up with 3 things to be thankful for even on bad days. Life after college was lonely for me since I moved out of state but ending each day thinking about 3 things I was thankful for allowed me to go bed every night with a happier heart and sleep much better.
Don't take yourself too seriously. There's plenty of time for that later.
Life is not short (for most people). In fact, it is really really long, so plan accordingly at take care of your body.
Don't get into credit card debt!!!!!! Save money! Even if you set up a small recurring transfer from checking to savings account.
Everyone doesn't have to like you and it's okay (I learned this in my late 30's).
Be kind to everyone!! We are all humans, just with different life stories. None better, none worse, just different.
Work your butt off! Be the best employee you can.
Walmart sells $3 wine that tastes pretty good.
Contracts are only as good as the integrity of the people who sign them or the depth of your pockets to enforce them (this goes for real estate, marriage, anything). Take pictures every time you move into or out of a place because you never know what you might have to prove. Try to notice when someone or something toxic starts sucking your energy and attention and redirect your best effort to the people and activities that are truly there for you and feed your soul. Open a Roth IRA and max it out every year you can.
Take risks in your career early and often and you'll accelerate your skills, credibility, and earnings (it'll just get scarier the farther along you go and the more financial responsibilities you assume so pedal to the metal now so you can ease up when it makes sense for you).
NO ONE has it all figured out. Be kind to yourself, make your health (mental, physical, etc.) a priority - you will be far more successful in the "real world" and at your job if you are happy at home, etc.
Save money wherever you can (quit with the expensive AM & PM drinks all the time), but spend money on things you truly want to do/buy.
You should wake up excited to go to work and when work is done, you should be excited to go home. If one of these isn't true, make a change.
Don't wait to go to the dentist.
Treat yo' self (within reason but often).
Best rule of life I've learned and use daily, I call "The mañana rule". If you're upset about a situation or someone, wait until tomorrow to actually do/say anything about it. Sure, I vent to people I trust. Sometimes I write that really nasty email I want to send (without someone in the "to" field) and then delete it. I even consider what my recommendations on fixing this would be. But I wait until the next day when I can clear my head to actually say something.
Start your retirement account on day one. If you have elderly parents, make sure their wills, trusts, estates etc are up to date/ power of attorney info is up to date when they are healthy. God forbid if you have to go in to crisis mode, it'll be way easier for everyone if those conversations and arrangements are made ahead of time.
I wish I'd spent less going out and buying trendy clothing rather than basics.
It can be lonely adjusting to after college life.
Don't marry the wrong person. It's MUCH better to be single forever than to be stuck with someone you don't love or who isn't worthy of your love. Make sure your spouse is responsible (no addictions, mental health in order, sense of personal responsibility for self), has a plan for life (other than sitting on the couch smoking weed or going to clubs with friends every weekend) that you're good with, is kind to everyone (from the waitress to their mom), is not a sociopath (empathetic, not self-absorbed), doesn't have an ugly temper (never ever violent) or passive aggressive, knows how to communicate like an adult, and is on the same page as you with most major things (such as whether you like to travel a lot, religious/faith issues, whether they're an OCD neat freak and you're a mess, etc.). Divorce is painful and expensive and very damaging for children, so get it right the first time.
Don't rush into life. Go travel. Don't rush into being an adult. Save money and do what you want to do. There is plenty of time for all that. Before you know it you are married with small kids and a mortgage and bills and holy hell... it's all worth it, but it's different. So do you first.
Take care of your skin.
Age is a number. Getting older is better than the alternative, unless you are a funeral director.
SAVE YO MONAY. Just because everyone else is showing up to the 8am meeting with Starbucks coffee doesn't mean you have to. Make your own coffee. Bring your lunch. Don't get your nails done all the time. Don't go out drinking all weekend just because you have a job that provides money to blow. Think about some goals you might have in the next 10 years (travelling, wedding, house, another degree) and start saving for one or two of those. $50 a month goes a long way when you start early! Oh and have fun have lots of fun. (you don't have to spend a lot of money to do this).
Embrace who you are and love it! You're the only one who has to get up every day and be you so ownnnn it, girl!! And, save your money. Alllll the monies in the bank - travel and risks and fun are so much better if you can pay for them in full!!!!
SAVE Don't be afraid to look stupid and ask questions...about everything!! You do not need the newest X Take more chances-in every arena Trust your instincts SAVE. Did I mention save??
SLEEP. As a society we are severely sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation is the equivalent to being drunk - driving, at work, etc. Get as much sleep EVERY NIGHT as you can. To piggy back, don’t drink on the weekdays. Your job and sanity will pay for it.
If you are financially struggling, there is no shame in asking for government help. If you need Medicaid for health insurance or food stamps, its fast and easy to qualify if you don’t have a job or make very little. If you are looking at living on your own, LIVE SMALL. You don’t need a condo with a view with rent that’s more than one paycheck. The economy is a nightmare compared to when I graduated….but I’m living even smaller now than I was then.
DON’T USE CREDIT CARDS, or just use one to build credit and pay if off every month.
Listen to your GUT. Always! It deserves more credit than we give it.
Don't get into Credit Card debt!!!!!!
Start saving for retirement as soon as possible. Never EVER take $$ out of it, or a loan against it.
Get an emergency savings account of a minimum of $1K.
Travel as much as possible, as often as possible.
Jesus lord - burn the damn credit cards and get your fomo under control.
I think what I wish I had known two years ago is that you need to just stay in your lane and work hard, and don't look at what other people are doing or getting or whatever because right out of college it's really overwhelming. Focus on yourself and take it slow, everything works out! And BRING YOUR LUNCH TO WORK that's like $70 a week!! You don't have that!!
Just because you have a credit card doesn't mean you should go on shopping sprees and accidentally max it out. I got my first one after college and I'm now trying to teach myself how to budget and all that fun stuff. But you do need to build your credit so it's good to have a credit card! Just pay it off every month.
If you have a 401k max it out and tax advantage of those pre tax dollars.
By: Rachael Durant
In the job and internship hunting process, the most fear-inducing, dreaded part is usually writing the perfect cover letter. There are a myriad of articles and books all claiming to have the formula for cover letters. You can find said tips in the New York Times, Business Insider, and even Buzzfeed. While I personally don’t claim to have the silver bullet or magic formula for the absolutely perfect cover letter, I do have a series of simple tricks that will help make your cover letter better.
1) Do not use a fill-in-the-blanks cover letter you found online
Though the fill-in-the-blanks cover letters are often well-intentioned, try not to use them, as most employers and hiring professionals can tell them from a mile away. The best cover letters showcase personality, allowing the employer to see more of you than a resume might. A cover letter should not be a regurgitation of your resume. It should point to specific skills and examples of past successes that back up why you are the perfect candidate for the job. Including measurable successes is really important because it shows results, and filling in the blanks of a cover letter someone else created isn't an easy way to do so.
This is imperative. Take your time. Read your cover letter backwards and out loud, which can help you catch mistakes.
3) Pay attention to instructions
The instructions for applying to a specific role may change your cover letter strategy a bit. Some require that it be attached, and this is where formatting is key. Others will have you upload it in the body of an email, where you should keep it short so your whole cover letter can be viewed on one screen. Others may even request specific things to be included in the cover letter that wouldn’t typically be asked elsewhere, so definitely make sure to pay attention.
4) Do your research
I like to include a short paragraph about what I appreciate about the company specifically, and why that company is therefore a good fit for me. This may mean writing about how they work with a specific client, or that they are in a niche industry. It ultimately shows that you care about this company beyond the posting on Indeed or LinkedIn. It also gives you a leg up for when you interview, as you already have some research about the company under your belt.
This needs to be mentioned twice. Ask a friend, neighbor, the girl or guy at the coffee shop you have a crush on, your mom, etc. to take a look for any spelling or grammar mistakes. You'll be glad you did.
6) Know your industry (and the company)!
For example, in creative industries, you may have some wiggle room in terms of what is appropriate to include in your cover letter. My experience with this is from the time I applied for an internship with my local Girl Scouts. In my cover letter I included a short anecdote at the beginning about how being a Girl Scout had shaped my leadership skills and love of learning, which was a coy way to include my strengths as well as compliment the program itself.
7) Keep it concise and to the point
Flowery language and prose can be a strength in some cases, but not in your cover letter. You want it to be short and sweet, clear and concise.
8) Address it to a specific person
It can be really difficult to find out who to address your cover letter to, but it's worth it. It may require some extensive LinkedIn or website searching, or even calling the company to ask who the hiring manager is. However, that extra step can make your cover letter stand out. Always do your best to find out who will be reading it and address your cover letter to that person.
9) Ending your cover letters with confidence.
I like to end my cover letters with when I am available for an interview, and that I look forward to hearing from them soon. It may not make a huge difference, but I feel like it projects confidence.
10) Create a unique cover letter for each job
This sounds really time consuming, however applying for jobs in general are a time consuming process. There are benefits to creating a unique cover letter for each job. For one, you will never have the wrong company name or the wrong job title. Those little mistakes can cost you big opportunities! This does not mean you have to work from scratch each time. Instead, take bits and pieces from past cover letters that are applicable. This is why suggestions 2 & 5 are important and necessary: you want to make sure that the cover letter flows nicely.
Cover letters are tedious, but they are also an opportunity to make a first impression with your potential future employer. I wish it was easier to offer a foolproof template that would always result in an interview. Unfortunately, however, this does not seem to exist. My best advice is to therefore make sure a piece of you shines through in your cover letter, as authenticity is important.
On the other hand, don’t sweat the cover letter part too too much! According to some sources, cover letters aren't as important as a well timed recommendation or knowing the right people. So, along with a strong cover letter that utilizes the above tips, also make sure to keep your networks strong and let former supervisors know when you are applying to a job.
Best of luck in your job hunting, and let us know in the comments – did our suggestions help in the job search? Do you have further questions? We'd love to hear from you.
By: Elisabeth Huber
There have been two times in my life where I have had to travel completely alone, and both were experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed. The first was during the summer of 2013 when I studied abroad in Tours, France for six weeks at an intensive French immersion institute not affiliated with my university. The second time was in 2015 when I was asked to give a five-day training program to my former company's client in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Both times were incredible learning and growing opportunities for me that I will never forget, and I've therefore learned some pretty important lessons from those experiences.
Without further ado, below are some of my Do's and Don'ts for traveling alone, so if/when you do it, you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
Do be safe.
Safety first, always. Take extra precautions, especially when you're in a foreign country. Avoid walking alone at night – take a cab or an Uber when necessary. Watch your drink(s) carefully while you're at a bar. If you meet friends during your travels, use the buddy system so they know where you are at all times. Pickpockets are common in big cities and in other countries, so keep your wallet in a place that is not easy to access. I was, unfortunately, the victim of pickpocketing while I was in France because I wasn't smart enough about the location of my wallet – a mistake that cost me over 200 much needed euros. Try not to make the same mistake I did.
That being said...
Don't be afraid to venture out.
After my business trip in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I had an entire day and night to explore Dublin, Ireland. It was originally supposed to be me and one of my colleagues there together, but because her phone broke we were unable to easily figure out where to meet while we were both there. Because of this, I ended up finding myself completely alone in Dublin. After grabbing lunch at a local cafe, wandering the streets for awhile, then eating dinner at a pub, I resigned myself to a quiet night in instead of a late night out. At around 7 in the evening, I went to the market across the street from my hotel, grabbed myself a couple of beers, and headed upstairs to my room where I drew a bath and listened to some music. As lovely as this would sound on any normal night, halfway through my relaxing evening I suddenly thought to myself: When will I realistically be in Dublin, Ireland again?
I sighed, forced myself out of the bath, threw on some clothes and makeup, then grabbed my purse and went outside to the Temple Bar streets. After stepping in and out of a few pubs that, for whatever reason, didn't interest me in the least, I found one that wasn't too over-crowded and had some good live music playing. I sat at the bar, ordered a beer, and was just starting to feel a bit lonely again when a girl around my age sat next to me and also ordered a beer. I started a conversation with her and she turned out to be absolutely awesome! She was from Australia but had just moved to England and was traveling alone before starting her new job. It ended up being one of the best nights of my life. After a couple of drinks at the first pub, we went to another bar where we met some really cool people from the Netherlands and had an absolute blast until the early (or, as they say in Ireland, wee) hours of the morning.
Do fake confidence.
The point of the above story is that had I not forced myself to do something that was stepping outside of my comfort zone, I wouldn't have had the amazing experience I enjoyed and still love to think back on today. Even if you feel self conscious about it, force yourself to go to a restaurant or bar alone, force yourself to take a guided tour alone, force yourself to walk the streets of the unknown city alone (in the daylight or on brightly-lighted streets, and avoid dark alleyways always). Learning how to be alone in a new place is such an empowering experience, even if it's only for one day. Fake it 'til you make it - if you tell yourself you can do it and force yourself to do it, you can. And you never know what/who you will experience by doing so. (Just always keep your safety in mind).
Don't use your phone.
"Blasphemous!" you say, "How can I go without my phone?" You can, and you should. Substitute your phone for a book, if you must, but don't go visit a new place and immediately shut yourself down to the beautiful new world you are in by scrolling through cyberspace. Are you in a different country? Go to a cafe and listen to the language around you while you sip on your coffee. Are you at a bar? You'll never meet someone new if you're stalking your ex on Facebook. Wait to use your phone until you're in for the night. Your phone can wait, the experiences you could have while you're traveling cannot.
Do learn about the culture you're visiting.
I was an anthropology major so I feel as though I'm required to add this. If you're visiting a new country and/or culture, it's important to know the general practices and customs of that culture so you are not unintentionally offending others while you're there. It's as easy as taking ten minutes to read up about that new destination to know what to keep in mind, and it will help make your experience that much more pleasant.
Don't forget to take pictures.
And no, I'm not necessarily talking about the typical bathroom mirror selfie, however you do you. This, instead, is advice that my friend Joel told me before I went to France. "You're going to want to look back on this experience in the future," he told me, "So make sure you take lots of pictures, and make sure some if not most of those pictures include yourself in them!" I'm so grateful today for his advice. I love to look back on my travel pictures and, despite the fact that I don't often like to have pictures of myself taken, I do enjoy seeing myself in them. I think this sentiment is because as time passes, those travel memories feel as though they were dreams, so seeing evidence of yourself having been there proves in a way that it truly was a real experience.
Joel wanted to add a note today to say "However, make sure not to spend the entire time of your travels looking through the lens of your camera!" This is also a good point. Have a balance of a well-documented visit, take pictures of the important, cool, and/or beautiful things, but do also experience most of your travels through your own eyes and not the camera's.
Traveling alone can be a beautiful experience that leaves you knowing yourself better and feeling more confident in yourself than you ever thought possible. So, if you take anything from my advice, you should at least remember to have fun and be safe. Make the best out of each moment as your time there will pass quickly.
With all that being said, have YOU had an enlightening travel experience? Share it with us in the comments! You never know, your experience may be shared on one of our social media pages in the future.
By: Karen Thompson
I wasn’t born with the cooking gene. In fact, I’ve had so many cooking mishaps they’ve become legendary stories for my family and friends. Once, while making a whole box of instant mashed potatoes, I added eight tablespoons of salt instead of eight tablespoons of butter (never did it occur to me that eight tablespoons was a LOT of salt). Another time, I cooked a sheet of wax paper into a pecan pie. Sadly, I could go on and on, but instead, I’ll share some tips I’ve learned over the years.
One of the most overlooked steps is the first: Have a kitchen stocked with the basic tools and pantry staples. While you don’t have to get the top of the line in pots, pans and other items that you’ll use in the oven or on the stove, don’t buy the cheapest stuff either. The better quality your cookware, the more evenly your food gets cooked. Trust me on this. I found this list of kitchen must-haves that won’t overwhelm you, plus they offer some great recommendations.
Once you’ve got your hardware, you’ll need some stuff to cook! Here’s a comprehensive list of pantry staples to help you get started on the road to both savory and sweet creations. Don’t feel like you have to get everything at once (it would be pretty expensive to do that!). Build slowly and add a few things each week.
Once you’ve got a basic arsenal of utensils and ingredients, here are some of my favorites ways to use them:
Pasta – Most pasta takes less than 10 minutes to cook, and the sauce and topping combinations can give you endless variety. Keep some frozen meatballs on hand and you’ve got dinner. You don’t even always need pasta sauce--just add garlic and olive oil and you’re good to go.
Low-sodium chicken broth - You can easily make soup by adding whatever you like to the broth: Veggies, cooked chicken, pasta or rice. Whatever you have lying around can be turned into soup! My favorite? Pull all the meat off a rotisserie chicken and add it to two cartons of broth. Sprinkle in some poultry seasoning, then bring it to a boil and add frozen dumplings. Cook over medium high heat until the dumplings are cooked and you’ve got a tasty dinner.
English muffins – These keep for a long time in the fridge and you can make easy breakfast sandwiches with some scrambled eggs and bacon. Or, spread pizza sauce and sprinkle cheese and olives on top for mini pizzas. If you really want to feel grown up, spoon on some ricotta cheese, add thinly sliced pears and drizzle honey on top. Totally Insta worthy.
Smoked sausages and/or kielbasa – Slice into rounds and bake with sliced peppers, onions, carrots and potatoes. Use whatever root veggies you have on hand – there’s no wrong way to do this one.
To me, Pinterest is a big help in the kitchen. Once I week, I look for a few easy recipes and make a grocery list of what I need to make them. It keeps me organized and experimenting with new dishes. Another benefit of expanding your cooking repertoire? You’ll save tons of money. Even if you cut your lunch or dinner outings in half, you’re likely to see the result in your pocket.
Many people find cooking therapeutic. Whether it’s the rhythmic chopping and slicing or the creativity and freedom of experimenting with herbs and spices, your time in the kitchen is whatever you want it to be. And if you accidentally add too much salt or bake something in a pie that’s not edible who cares? Every dish may not be a winner – but you’ll feel like one for cooking in your own kitchen.