Writing a Winning Resume

As anyone applying for a job, internship, or even college knows, a resume and cover letter are everything. However, there are people who don’t know how to write an effective one that will land them an interview rather than a spot in the rejection pile.

Luckily, one of the organizations I'm involved in, the Public Relations Student Society of America, recently conducted a resume and cover letter-writing workshop with a professional from a nearby communications firm. He’s had plenty of experience sifting through resumes and cover letters, so he shared some tips with us. Here are some noteworthy ones:

  1. Customization is important. Tailor your resume and cover letter to fit the job and the company (or the college, if that's where you're applying). He proceeded to read us a letter in which the applicant clearly forgot to change the name of the company from the previous resume. Laughs ensued.
  2. Personalize: send your cover letter and resume to a person, not a title. He then read several letters addressed to “gentleman”, “to whom it may concern” and “dear human resources.” More laughs.
  3. Start with a summary, skip the objective. Instead of simply stating an objective, write a short sentence about you that will really catch the employers' attention. Apparently, employers make a decision about you in only six seconds. 
  4. Make it perfect. Spell check and grammar check are your friends. Read your materials aloud and have others read and critique. After all, he said, you don’t want to forget the “L” in “public relations” – things could get ugly.
  5. Show benefits instead of features. Don’t simply list things; explain why your experiences are important and how they will help the company (or college). Also, keep your sentences concise because employers don’t like rambling and redundancy.
  6. Follow up is on you, not the employer. Don’t end your cover letter with “you can contact me at…” or “if you’d to set up an interview, email me at…” because it shows that you’re not very proactive.

Afterwards, he met with people individually to critique their resumes. I waited about an hour before it was my turn (good time to get some other work done). Together, we reorganized and reworded my high school resume into a much more professional one. I left the room both relieved and excited to have taken a crucial step towards my career. 

This workshop was definitely an eye opener, and it forced me to make necessary changes and gave me insight into how I can stand out when applying for that ever-important internship.

About The Author
Alyssa SchorProud IU Student, Class of 2016

Hello Hoosiers! My name is Alyssa Schor and I'm a journalism major specializing in public relations with a minor in psychology. I've previously written for the Indiana Daily Student and this fall will serve as editor-in-chief of The Odyssey, a publication geared for students in Greek life. It's the perfect cross between my passion for Greek life, my skills in journalism and my career goals in PR.

I'm a member of the PR committee for IU Dance Marathon and have also helped out the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) with their annual Greek media training event. I like chocolate and food in general a lot, and you'll occasionally find me at Hillel eating their delicious challah and matzah ball soup (or whatever else they're serving that day). 

This is now my third year (what?!) blogging for WeAreIU.com, and I keep doing it because I'm so excited to share my stories with you and serve as a great resource for current and future IU students. If there is anything you want me to write about, let me know!