Resumes & Cover Letters

The Three R's of Resume Writing

The three R's of resume writing are Research, Research, Research. Before submitting your resume, you must know what the prospective company does, what the position involves, and whether you will be a fit. And that means doing research about the company, about the position, and about the type of employee that company typically hires.

Research the Company

Read whatever literature the company has placed in the career library. For more information, try the internet or, even more directly, call the company. Ask for any literature it may have, find out how the company is structured, and ask what qualities the company generally looks for in its employees. Ask if there are openings in your area, and find out the name of the department head and give him or her a call. Explain that you are trying to decide whether to apply to the company, and ask for their recommendation for next steps. Thank the person for the information, and ask to whom your resume should be directed.

Research the Position

The more you know about the position, the better able you will be to sell yourself and to target the resume to that position. If possible, interview someone who does that same job. In addition to finding out the duties, ask if there is on-the-job training, whether they value education over experience (or vice versa), and what kind of turnover the department experiences. Ask what they like about the position and the company; more important, ask what they don't like about it.

Research Yourself

Your goal is not just to get a job. Your goal is to get a job that you will enjoy. After you find out all you can about the company and the position, ask yourself honestly whether this is what you really want to do and where you really want to be. The odds are overwhelming that you will not hold this position for more than two or three years, so it's not a lifetime commitment; however, this first job will be the base of your lifetime career. You must start successfully so that future recommendations will always be positive. Furthermore, three years is a long time to spend doing something you don't like, working in a position that isn't challenging, or living somewhere you don't want to live.

Once you have done this research, you will sell yourself more effectively. Most employers devote an average of 15 to 30 seconds to each resume, so it is your responsibility to make it attractive, readable and informational. One last word of advice; before you go to the interview, review the version of your resume that you submitted to this employer. The resume can only get you the interview; the interview gets you the job.