Your resume is your first, and sometimes the only, opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates, so it’s important to spend time developing a well-tailored resume. Most hiring managers are trying to answer the following three questions while reviewing your documents:
Think of the resume and cover letter as your opportunity to answer these questions while showcasing your different skills and talents. These documents are your first impression to an employer and are crucial elements of securing an interview. While varied experiences (i.e. internships, volunteer work, clubs, etc.) are important, it is equally vital that those experiences are formatted in a way that best illustrates your career journey.
Perhaps the most important tip for making your documents stand out is to use industry lingo. Review the position description, highlight key words or phrases, and reflect that same terminology in your resume or cover letter. This shows you have done your research and are familiar with the culture of the industry.
One of the best methods for getting involved with a nonprofit or social services organization is to start as a volunteer or intern. Highlight these experiences near the top of your resume or create a separate section if you’ve worked with multiple groups. Possible section headers could include “Volunteer Experience”, “Community Involvement”, or “Nonprofit Engagement”.
Don’t forget to highlight courses, group projects, or papers that are related to working at a nonprofit. Perhaps your group assignment was consulting with a local organization on a logo rebrand or to develop a communication strategy. Or maybe you’ve completed a course on counseling skills. These aspects of your academic career are valuable and are certainly worth highlighting on a resume or cover letter.
Your cover is meant to achieve two goals: to demonstrate your genuine interest in the position and to explain why you are the MOST qualified person for the job. It’s tempting to fill your cover letter with clichés about work, commitment, etc. This will not help you set yourself apart. Instead, use your personality and tell your own story – honestly. Be specific about your skills and show them in action. Follow these general rules for writing a good cover letter.
It’s always a good idea to have someone edit your cover letter before sending. Make a career advising appointment, or visit us during drop-in hours for assistance.