The Application

Reasons for Leaving a Job

Preparing Job Descriptions

Clustering Your Skills

Putting Skills Into Phrases

Resume Do's and Don'ts

Guidelines for Critiquing Your Resume

Review of Elements of a Resume and Resume Resources

Cover Letters

The Application:

o Beware of the fine print! Care in following directions is essential as it indicates to many employers your ability to read and follow instructions, in addition to how careful you are. "Complete in your own handwriting," "please print," or "put first (or last) name first," is important.

o Have your Social Security Number, driver's license, and the names, addressees and phone numbers of those people you have CONTACTED who have consented to provide you with a good reference.

o If you have letters of reference, take the originals AND machine copies with you. Show the originals and leave the copies.

o Create a master application form that is already completed PERFECTLY, checked and rechecked for accuracy, spelling, correct addresses, hire and termination dates for previous employment.

o Fill in all the blanks. If they do not apply, put a dash mark to indicate that you did not overlook it, e.g., military service.

o Use block, not script. Use a pen, not a pencil.

o Circle the highest school year completed when asked. Write complete school names and addresses. DO NOT ABBREVIATE. o Write employer's job title when asked, "Position desired."

o When asked, "Salary desired," fill in NEGOTIABLE.

o If asked "Date of birth" or "Year of high school graduation," you can put in a dash mark. These are illegal questions. Legally, however, they can ask if you are at least 17 years of age.

o Pick up two applications. If you make a mistake, then you will have a spare.

o If you are not sure about employment dates, call your former employer or send out a stamped, self addressed post card if they are out of the area. You will want a start date, termination date, position and last salary. EMPLOYMENT HISTORY IS EASILY VERIFIABLE, so ACCURACY is very important.

o Under "Job duties" use descriptive phrases that show results.

o Provide a telephone number. If you have no telephone, arrange for a number where a MESSAGE can be left. Make sure when using a message number the person is prepared to receive calls for you. Note "M" or "Message" by the phone number.

Reasons for Leaving a Job:

When you fill out an employer application form, you will usually be asked to state why you left your previous job. This list will provide you with some of the terms most frequently used. The list is divided into the "RED LIGHT" danger zones, and the "GREEN OR YELLOW LIGHT" possibilities that you can explain or discuss in the interview. If you are filing for unemployment insurance, you should be aware that all the items listed here may be "issues" except one: LOLW - Laid off, lack of work. An "issue" may require a interview after you file your claim.

Red Light Answers:

(avoid these)

Yellow or Green Light Answers:

(You can explain/discuss in interview)

Hurt on job Forced reorganization or merger
Too far New job
Terminated Prefer to discuss in the interview
No potential Personal reasons
Mutual agreement LOLW-Laid off, lack of work
No baby sitter Job misrepresented
Personality conflict Contract ended
Left town


(You will get a chance to employer or job explain this)

Dissatisfaction with employer or job Seasonal
Marital problems Better opportunity
Insufficient salary Promotional opportunity
Quit Career change or growth
Failure to receive promised salary Returned to school
Arrested Relocated
Tardiness or late to work Travel & broadening education
Held up Raise a family
Did not get along with Temporary co-worker or supervisor  
Too slow Could not do the job  
Long hours  

Preparing Job Descriptions:

1. WHAT did you do?

o Object(s) worked on

o Goods and services produced

2. HOW did you do it?

o With what equipment?

o By what method?

o With what materials?

3. WHY did you do it?

o Job as a whole -- Purpose?

4. WHAT was involved -- Quantify!

o Speed

o Accuracy

o Volume

o Number supervised Clustering Your Skills

In order to write a good resume and to really analyze your skills, try to think of them in a clustered format. The following will help you think about skills in functional clusters.

Management Skills
Communication Skills
Research Skills
Developed Influenced Recognized problems
Planned Persuaded Clarified
Organized Helped Surveyed
Executed Directed Interviewed
Supervised Led Investigated
Scheduled Reasoned Inspected
Assigned Sold Gathered
Directed Developed Synthesized
Coordinated Recruited Examined
Analyzed Created Diagnosed
Prioritized Negotiated Reviewed
Delegated Arbitrated Organized
Hired/Fired Arranged Evaluated
Recommended Mediated Critiqued
Evaluated Reconciled Perceived
Administered Merged Collected
Contracted Obtained Interpreted
Produced Wrote Extrapolated
Controlled Interpreted Isolated
Reviewed Enlisted Extracted
  Motivated Decided


Financial Skills
Manual Skills
Creative Skills
Calculated Operated Innovated
Computed Tended Developed
Planned Controlled Created
Managed Ground Imagined
Budgeted Assembled Designed
Kept books Set-up Planned
Audited Fed Conceptualized
Appraised Cut Synthesized
Researched Bound Integrated
Analyzed Drove Abstracted
Kept records Moved Generated
Detailed Lifted Perceived
Allocated Bent Memorized
Administered Pulled Discriminated
Finger dexterity Shipped Intuitive skills
Developed Handled Visualized
Solved Punched Sensitivity skills
  Drilled Sense of humor
Detailed Skills
Teaching Skills












Followed through






Met deadlines






Managed Time
























Helping Skills






Retrieved Decided Adjusted
Recorded Initiated Serviced
Processed Set goals Referred
Facilitated   Rendered
Involved With
Caring Sensitivity Listening
Speaking Directing Perception
Intuition Understanding Maturity
Team work Monitoring  

Putting Skills into Phrases

Make your resume show ACCOMPLISHMENTS NOT job descriptions!

o In charge of...responsible for...

o Reported directly to...

o Started as...promoted to...

o Responsibilities include...

o Researched and developed...

o Established and maintained...

o Developed and put into operation; implemented...

o Successfully organized...

o Increased productivity by...Increased profits by...Increased sales by...

o Put into effect...

o Hired and supervised...trained...

o Managed publicity for...gave talks...presented programs... ...wrote and distributed press releases...

o Saved $______ by developing new sources of supply... tightening up paper work... improving the record keeping system...

o Reorganized filing system for faster retrieval, greater efficiency...

o Supervised staff of...

o In charge of...

o Effected annual savings of...

o Lowered costs by...

o Was able to _________ because of thorough knowledge of _______.

o Consistently met schedules for...

o Increased reliability by...

o Reduced weight (%...lbs...etc.) by...

o Measurable benefits include...

o Performed under budget by...

Use the above as a checklist when you analyze the jobs you have had. Remember to use ACTION or VIGOROUS VERBS and stress achievements and skills. Look over your descriptions. What skills did each job require? What did you accomplish? What was the result? What did you like and dislike?


Resume Do's and Don'ts

Be Brief - One page Write an autobiography
Be Conventional Use "I, Me or My"
USE SEE Skills Experience Education Mix tenses

Focus on Strong Points

o Job related responsibilities

o Achievements

Use Buzz Words unless applicable
Use Action Verbs Mention Salary
Be Clear Give Reasons for leaving last job
Be Simple Include Hobbies or unrelated organizations
Proof-Read Include age, height, or weight
Use Good Spacing Give # of children, marital status
Use Good Quality Paper Attach photo
Use Professional Print List References
Attach Cover Letter  

Stay out of the WOODS!







Guidelines for Critiquing Your Resume

Review the following questions to judge your resume's quality and effectiveness. You should be able to answer "yes" to each question. If you cannot do so, examine your rough draft carefully and make changes that will satisfy these guidelines.


o Is your resume neat and easy to read?

o Have you used space to highlight headings and important information?

o Were you consistent in placement of headings, margins and indentations?

o Does your resume look professional and businesslike?


o Does your name stand out?

o Are your address and phone number easy to find?

o If more than one address or phone number appears, is it clear when each is to be used? Education

o Have you presented school degrees, areas of concentration, courses and honors? Experience

o Have you resisted the temptation to take the easy way out by merely listing your past job descriptions, or have you really described some of your most exciting job-related achievements?

o Did you describe experiences in active phrasing using skill-oriented and functionally descriptive words?

o Did you discuss achievements and accomplishments, noting facts and figures when appropriate?

o Are experiences grouped according to topics that are related to your goals or stated objectives?

o Have you really thought about all of the activities, paid and volunteer, that contributed to your developing the skills and abilities you possess?

o Do job titles and organizations stand out as well as your desires?

Review of Basic Elements of a Resume

These are the elements you can use to build your resume.

Objective: The objective usually matches the position title to which you are applying. Not mandatory, can also be a "summary" statement. Use if changing careers or applying for new positions using previously learned skills.


Chronological listing of previous jobs, internships, volunteer work (if pertinent). Include the job title, employer, dates (optional), and location.

Skills and Qualifications:

Show growth and contributions.


(List GPA only if over 3.5. Thesis, dissertation topics, honors optional.) Degree and title, University or School name. State and year of graduation optional. List highest or most recent first, and do not mention High School information if you have a higher degree completed.

Resume Resources

Library References include:

Damn Good Resumes contains templates and examples.

Perfect Cover Letters contains examples of cover letters.

Cover Letter


o Cover letters "cover" and enhance your resume.

o Personalize your correspondence with an employer.

o Act as a "cover" for necessary information not mentioned in your resume.

o Emphasize the type of employment you are seeking.

o Explain why you have sent the resume (ad in the newspaper, personal contact, etc.).

o Stress how your specific skills match the employer's job.

o Show the employer you know something about the company.

o Make your resume package complete and professional.


o Should be typed on quality 8 1/2" paper, error free as described on the resume page. Never hand write a cover letter. You should always use good quality typewriter or word processor. If you do not own either, buy or borrow (as appropriate) or use the equipment at the Re-employment Center.

o Resume paper and cover letters should be the same color and quality.

o Address the letter to a decision-maker, verify name spelling. You should not address your letter to "Gentleman" or "Sir." The person receiving it could be a woman. It is OK to use "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Hiring Committee."

o Brevity is essential. Use less than one page. Be natural in your writing style.

o First paragraph- state your purpose, i.e. position for which you are applying; how you heard about it (such as a personal contact or newspaper ad) and show you know something about the company (if you do).

o Second paragraph- stress your contributions relevant to their need, if possible. It is important that your respond directly to the need. Cover each qualification required point by point. Do not highlight the qualification you don't have.

o Third paragraph- ask for an interview. If the ad asked for salary history say that you would be more confident discussing compensation in a hiring interview.

The Cover Letter


The cover letter establishes a personal, initial contact with the employer and highlights your background in relation to a specific position. It enables you to summarize your pertinent expertise or elaborate on particulars relevant to the job you are seeking. This is also the place to ask for the interview. It should be laid out as follows:



Your Name


Phone Number


Name of Company


Attn: Name of the contact person


1st paragraph. Why you are writing, includes the job title to which you are applying. Indicate where you saw the listing.

2nd paragraph. Why you are interested in this position, specific reasons why you desire this type of work, and why you are the right person for the job. Include information about yourself, and specifics you can offer them. Point out specific achievements or other goals in this field. Reference attachments here. It is acceptable to split this paragraph into two.

3rd paragraph. Ask for the interview. When appropriate, set an appointment when you can contact them.


Your Signature

Your Name (typed)