Riveting resumes and cool cover letters

Posted by Studentbox user
on 13/07/2016 at in  Everything else

Cover letters and resumes are like a snapshot of your skills, personality, and achievements that you send to employers. When you’re just applying for a casual job over the summer, cover letters aren’t always necessary, but writing one is an essential skill for when you’re trying to kickstart your career later down the line with a vacation or graduate job.

Briefly, cover letters should be:

  • A page maximum
  • Written with the same font the whole way through
  • In the same format as a regular letter or a formal email – with a greetings (eg ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear [name]’ if you’re 100% sure of the name of the person who will be reading it), subject (eg ‘RE: Casual Retail Assistant Position’), set out in paragraphs, and a conclusion (eg ‘Thank you for your consideration. I can be contacted at [number] if you have any questions regarding my application. Yours sincerely, [name]’)
  • Tailored to each place you apply to – TRIPLE CHECK to make sure you don’t include another store’s name in the cover letter, as this may result in your application being immediately rejected.
  • Fully checked for spelling/grammar mistakes, preferably by someone else (it’s easy to miss your own mitsakes, but you probably saw that one! )

Resumes require a lot of time to sit down, create, edit, and update. The good thing is, once you have your basic resume, it becomes a lot easier whenever you need to apply for jobs!

The basics – start with your name at the top. Make it stand out a bit, by increasing the font size (something like 20 might work, depending on the font you choose), and putting it in bold. Try not to use the default styles in Word – the ones on the top right of the screen, because they don’t necessarily look the cleanest.

Fun fact: the most preferred font for resumes is Arial. Times New Roman is another fairly typical one, as is Calibri. Whichever you choose, make sure that it is easy to read (they need to look through lots of resumes – make it as easy as possible for them!), and is installed on most computers.

The sections you include are up to you, but some ideas for headings include:

  • Personal Details – usually just contact details (don’t include your date of birth as this isn’t necessary!)
  • Career Objective – not used for most casual jobs, but something to consider once you’re applying for careers (ie jobs that you really want to pursue well into your future)
  • Education – start with your most recent history (ie high school if you’re in Year 12). You don’t need to include primary school.
  • Work experience – if you’ve done anything relevant to the job you’re applying for, include it here. It’s possible that you won’t have anything for your first few jobs!
  • Volunteer work – a big one if you haven’t had a job before. If you’ve volunteered regularly, this shows how you can commit to something. It also shows that you think of people/things outside of yourself, which is important if you’re working for a business and in a team.
  • Employment – this is pretty self-explanatory. Use your most recent job first, and mention where you worked (obviously), what your position was, when you started/finished, and what your roles were – but more importantly, what skills you developed (eg time management, teamwork, customer service).
  • Honours/Awards - these can be academic, sporting, community recognitions – just be careful on how long this list is. If it gets over a third of a page, you may need to start cutting down, and only including the most relevant/impressive.
  • Interests – can be included, but only if they’re relevant to the job. Try to keep this short and to the point.
  • Referees – these can be from family friends or someone you’ve worked for in the past (or one of each!). Whoever you choose, make sure you let them know that you’re applying for a job, and ask them if it’s ok if you give their details out on your resume.

If you get all this done and your resume is over two pages long… you should probably start cutting down. Remember, if a manager has to read through 50 applications in an afternoon, they’re going to appreciate the ones that tell them everything they need to know up front. Some resumes can be up to three pages long, and that’s ok, but ideally, two pages should be enough to get your story across.

Handy hint: if you’re having trouble organising everything into sections, consider using a table to make sure everything is aligned properly in columns. Just remember to hide the borders of the table (right-click, borders and shading, none) before you print/submit it.

If you’re printing it out, use white paper – don’t go for coloured paper or use any other sort of fancy paper.

If you’re submitting it, consider saving it as a PDF rather than a Word Document – PDFs don’t change format (as much), and aren’t easily edited afterwards, so look more ‘final’.

Some big don’ts:


With all that said, there’s not much else to add except GOOD LUCK and hopefully you’ll hear back about an interview!

Content courtesy of a previous Studentbox user.
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