As you prepare for your job search, you will need specific tools: a resume, a cover letter, and a professional LinkedIn profile. These items are designed to communicate relevant experience and skills to your target audience, employers.
A resume is a marketing tool. It paints a picture of your skills, abilities, and experiences, and it showcases your qualifications to employers.
Because recruiters and hiring managers screen candidates by looking at their resumes, your resume must be up-to-date, error-free, complete, and targeted to the position you are seeking.
Employers will spend, on average, only 10 seconds reviewing your resume. The most important information on your resume must be clearly placed so that recruiters can find it quickly and easily. RESUME SAMPLE
Guidelines for one-page resumes:
Individuals with less than 10 years of experience
Good for networking
Can be used for all professions
Guidelines for two-page resumes:
Individuals with over 10 years of experience
Consultants or those who do project work
Critical content belongs on the first page
White space matters — don’t crowd your information
Include your greatest accomplishment — the one that relates most directly to the role.
Discuss why the organization would want to hire you. What do you have to offer that would make you a top candidate?
Part 4: Brief closing paragraph
The goal is to show how much you would like to become part of the team.
Refer the reviewer to the enclosed resume.
State that you hope to hear from the organization and to speak with them further.
Close with a statement indicating that you are excited about the role and that you will follow up.
List a phone number where you can be reached.
Thank the reviewer for taking the time to review your application.
Sign your cover letter by hand.
Follow the steps below to create a strong LinkedIn profile:
Display your photograph
Use a photo that is professional, appropriate, and clearly recognizable as you. You want people who’ve met you in person to recognize you when they respond to your request to connect.
Write a strong headline
Draft a short description of who you are and what you do. Your headline will be the first piece of information, other than your photo, that people will see. Use your headline to leverage your skills, interests, and aspirations.
Write this section in the first person, using the word “I.” Structure your summary around the following questions:
WHO are you? What is the core field that relates to your career path? What are you currently doing that relates to this field? Include recent or current employment, volunteer or project work in your area of interest, and unique qualities or characteristics, including deep beliefs about your field. (e.g. “I am a firm believer in excellent education for everyone, regardless of their background.”)
WHAT experiences have you had? What are the skills that will prepare you for the field you want to enter? Use keywords specific to the job or field. Keep this section short. Your resume will provide the details.
WHERE will you go next? End with career-related goals for the future.
Create a personalized URL
Go to the right of your profile, and click “Edit your public profile.” On the right side of the screen, click “Customize your public profile URL.” The window below will open and give you the option to change your URL. Choose a concise URL to place on your resume, email signature, and/or business card.
From here, you can search alumni using a variety of filters. Scroll to the right for a complete view of all filters.
By clicking on a specific place, company, or industry, LinkedIn will modify the search to reflect the St. Olaf alumni that fit that criteria.
You can find out
What year they graduated
What they studied
Where they are located
Who their work colleagues are, and
What skills they have
From the St. Olaf College Alumni Group on LinkedIn, you can post articles of interest, promote jobs to other Oles, and review and comment on the posts of other alumni.
Recommendation & Reference Guide
A recommendation is a written statement supporting your application for a specific fellowship or for a graduate or professional degree program. A recommendation differs from a reference in that it is always written and is addressed to a specific program. Many organizations requiring a letter of recommendation will provide you with a form that includes a waiver of your right to read the recommendation, thus confirming that the comments of the recommender will be confidential.
A reference is a person who will give a strong positive statement about you and your work-related qualities and experience. This statement is usually shared via email or phone or through an online form. Employers typically ask for a list of three references with their contact information.
Choosing an Advocate
When deciding whom to ask for a reference or recommendation, consider the following:
Is the person willing to provide strong, favorable information about you?
Is the person’s academic or professional area relevant to your work or area of study?
Does the person know you well enough to say substantive things about you?
Does the person have the time to serve as a reference or write a letter?
Current or previous work supervisors
Former professors, campus administrators, advisors, or coaches
Business colleagues, vendors, or customers
Leaders in organizations where you volunteer
Before requesting a reference or recommendation, prepare the following information:
A description of the job, field, program or fellowship to which you are applying
A reminder for the person of how you know each other and why you are asking for a recommendation or reference at this particular time
A copy of your resume
Accomplishments or projects that you have completed for an employer, or copies of exams or papers that you have written for an instructor
A copy of any writing samples or personal statements, or elements from a portfolio, that you will be submitting along with your application
When relevant, the form for recommendations/references with information about you (and, to the extent appropriate, about the recommender/referee) filled in on the form. Many recommenders/referees will choose to write their recommendation/reference on the formal letterhead of their organization instead of filling out the institution’s form. (Many institutions permit recommenders/references to upload such documents onto the institution’s website.) Alternatively, you can ask if the recommender/referee would like a stamped, addressed envelope to mail the document directly or would prefer to return the letter in a signed, sealed envelope for you to send.
It is wise to allow someone at least two weeks’ notice to serve as a reference and one month to prepare a letter of recommendation.
Keep references informed of your progress, including when and to whom you have given your reference sheet, especially if the interviewer will be contacting them.
Send a thank you note to each person who has acted as a recommender or referee.