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Indiana University Bloomington
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Career

The Undergraduate Advisor for the Cognitive Science Program will assist students with their career development needs by:

  • Helping students identify their career and professional goals.

  • Assisting with resume and cover letter development.

  • Helping students develop interviewing skills.

  • Notifying students about campus and local resources that support students' career interests.

Resumés and Cover Letters

Sample Resumé

Sample Cover Letter

Resumés...Where to Start?

"To apply: send resume and cover letter to...", "Send copy of current resume by January 15 to...", "Fax or e-mail resume to..." Have you seen these statements before? These are the famous last words near the end of almost every job description, internship listing, or corporate recruiting web page.

Most employers, big and small, expect candidates (intern, full-time, part-time...sometimes even volunteer!) to produce a clear, concise, information packed document that represents experience and skills appropriate for successfully carrying out the responsibilities and tasks of an available position. Have you prepared such a document?

In addition to the sample resume on the next page, the following tips will assist you in developing and maintaining a quality resume.

  1. First Draft does not equal Final Draft
    Give yourself a break. Don't expect your first draft to be perfect. Plan to revise many times...in fact, plan to revise for the rest of your professional life! A resume is a work in progress...constantly changing as your experience and skills change.

  2. Start With Too Much
    Don't assume that the job behind the counter at your parent's hardware store is irrelevant. Work experience is important no matter where it occurred. Skills from one job can be transferred to another, very different kind of job. Shouldn't employers know you possess those skills? Begin developing your resume by making a list of ALL your work experience, paid and unpaid. Jot down the job title, employer name, city, state, dates of employment, your responsibilities, and specific skills you used/developed.

  3. Leadership Experience Counts Too!
    Employers often cite leadership skills as high on their list of desired attributes/qualifications. Be sure to document your involvement in school, the community, or in professional organizations. You didn't have to be Student Government President to include this information. Perhaps you served on a committee, or planned a special event...don't leave it off your resume!

  4. Use Active-Verbs/Skill-Words to Describe Your Experience.
    Be careful about using terms like "Duties included..." or "Responsibilities included..." Each sentence that describes your experience should begin with an active verb or skill word.. For example, "Completed data entry projects in a timely manner while paying attention to detail and accuracy," "Assisted library patrons with new computerized library database," or "Wrote and edited a training manual for future trainers and employees."

  5. Computer and Technical Skills are Relevant Everywhere!
    Make sure you document your computer and technical skills somewhere on your resume. Include your experience with operating systems, programming languages, application software, etc. Even if your experience with computers is minimal, document what you do know. Including technical skills on a resume says, "I know this is important and I want you to know that I'm comfortable with technology and am willing to learn."

  6. Miscellaneous But Important Stuff...
    Proofread, proofread, proofread! Make sure there are no errors on your resume. It's never too early (nor too late!) to develop a resume! Don't be afraid to ask for help! Show your resume to a friend, professor, a career counselor or the cognitive science undergraduate advisor. Contact Britta Grieshaber for an appointment to discuss or critique your resume!


Cover Letters

What is a Cover Letter?

So you've developed a resume for the perfect summer job or internship and suddenly you notice that the job announcement says, "send resume AND cover letter to..." But what is a cover letter?

Letter of application, interest letter, cover letter, all of these are names for the same thing. A cover letter serves the purpose of introducing the reader, recruiter, or employer to you and to your resume. In many ways, cover letters are just as important (or maybe more important) than resumes, because if the cover letter doesn't impress them they won't even read the resume!

In general, cover letters need to communicate the following things:

  • Why are you writing?
    (i.e. what position are you applying for and how did you hear about it?)

  • Why does the position interest you?

  • How do your skills prepare you for success in the position?
    (i.e. how do your skills and experience match the job description?)

  • What now?
    (i.e. how will you follow up from this point on?)

Like resumes there is not ONE correct way to develop a cover letter, and with time and practice cover letters become easier to write. There are a few things to keep in mind when developing a cover letter:

  1. Tailor each cover letter to the position. Seasoned recruiters can spot a form letter immediately. You may find that if you are applying to similar positions, you can borrow phrases and ideas from previous cover letters, but be sure to personalize each letter. How? Try incorporating information you know about the organization into the letter. If the position announcement asks you to incorporate specific information in the cover letter...make sure you do so! You don't want to be eliminated from the list of potential candidates because you didn't follow directions.

  2. Be clear and concise. While there is no hard and fast rule about length, cover letters should be one page. Therefore you will need to communicate your personality, qualities, desire, experience, and skills clearly and concisely. Your cover letter should highlight the things that you most want to communicate, making the reader curious and causing them to read your resume.

  3. Use concrete examples. Don't use general phrases like, "I communicate well" without supporting them with a concrete example of when/how you used your communication skills effectively.

  4. Be proactive. Many people wrap up their cover letter by saying things like, "I look forward to hearing from you." or "Please feel free to contact me at..." Don't put the burden of follow-up in the reader's hands. In most cases they won't. Tell them that you will follow-up in two weeks to introduce yourself and set up a time to meet in person. Then make sure you DO follow-up. Be bold, but follow the rules too. If the position announcement states, "No phone calls, please" then follow up with a brief note, not a phone call.
See a sample cover letter