Most experts say students should start preparing for the job search at the beginning of their senior year. While this may seem very early, a year will give you plenty of time to research companies, to prepare a solid resume, to adapt your application letter for specific companies, and to request references.
- Company Research (About.com)
- Job Search Methods (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Job Listing Directory (About.com)
- Job Skills Checklist(Purdue OWL)
A resume is a factual representation of your knowledge, skills, and experiences. Essentially, it is your chance to show your employer what you can do, but you do not have much time to make your case. John L. Munschauer, former Director of the Cornell University Career Center, says that the average employer spends, on the first read, 20 seconds skimming a resume. To think carefully about how to design and present your information so that readers can find it easily, see Princeton's Resume Guide and these articles from the Purdue OWL.
If a resume is a summary of your skills, an application letter shows how those skills make you a successful candidate for a particular position. Steven Graber, former managing editor of the JobBank series and the Adams Almanac series, compares them to advertisements: "Like effective advertisements, effective cover letter attract an employer's attention by highlighting the most attractive features of the product" (qtd. in Harty 294). Doing this requires researching the company carefully and deciding ways to show how your skills, knowledge, and experience can benefit that company.
- Preparing to Write a Cover Letter (Purdue OWL)
- Writing Your Cover Letter (Purdue OWL)
- Quintessential Career's Cover Letter Tutorial
If your employer considers your resume and application letter a good fit for the position, they will ask you for an interview. The work you completed to research the company and determine how you would fit into it will help you decide what to emphasize during the interview, though you should also consider the kind of impression you will make through your appearance and attitude.
Other useful resources
These resources combine two or more of the topics listed above.
- Resume Writing Guide (pdf) (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
- Tailoring Employment Documents for a Specific Audience (Purdue OWL)
- Tips and Terms for the International Student's Job Search (Purdue OWL)
Letters and Reports
The model texts below come from the Purdue OWL.