The Reader doesn’t give a–

Da*n about who you are, unless you remain concrete and highly relevant.

When I wrote my first Personal statement for college applications, I was made aware of this fact. Whoever had the misfortune of reading my college personal statement likely had the further misfortune of reading hundreds like it, of drastically varying quality. After the ten dozenth emotional story, the reader’s mind would become inured to cloying pathos and blustering ethos.

Thus, as many of my fellow scholars have noted, companies have implemented algorithms to sift through personal statements and cover letters. No buzz words? No job! Made it past that barrier? Your meticulously crafted personal statement will get read for about five to seven seconds, before it is either blessed or binned. I was well aware that the readers didn’t really want to read all those personal statements, but I had no idea it was that bad.

This has once again changed my views on the Personal Statement. It has evolved from a narrative piece describing your interests and desires, to a tangentially narrative piece describing your experience and ability. There is no room for romantics in the chess game between employers and employees; To win this round, you will have to know the opponent as well as you know yourself. One can show that he knows his opponent by doing research and by enlisting spies– I mean, connections– to give him the inner workings of their organization: important names, important projects, important procedures.

As for the knowledge of oneself, well, that will come with experience and practice. Magdala and Dr. Hill are both extremely knowledgeable on the subject– possibly too knowledgeable: by the time the event had ended, we didn’t have enough time to write our own personal statements during the workshop. I do hope we have another workshop, so I can have a chance to apply what I’ve learned!

Doing The HW

Cover letters are a really important aspect when applying for jobs and internships. It speaks about you as a person and things that are not listed in the resume. Often times, resumes are similar throughout different candidates. There are similar leadership positions and extracurricular activities in the resume, but the cover letter goes beyond that. It provides employers a sense of who the person applying for the position is. The event reiterated some things I already knew. But one thing I learned was creating different resumes for different positions. Some roles and activities on the resume might be irrelevant for some positions. It’s good to have different sets of resumes.

Cover Letters: Letters that Cover what?

Cover letters always seemed to me like an enigmatic ritual, an ancient tradition passed down by recruiters for generations. But despite their origins from the days of yore, writing them is especially beneficial for jobseekers like us. Last Thursday, Cynthia and Shiv spoke about effective resume and cover letter tips, which many of us found pretty helpful.

They gave us a few example job descriptions and told us to write how we would apply to those jobs, which is incredibly difficult if the job bluntly asked for skills we simply did not have. Initially, being a computer science major, I started working on the computer science major job description, but I realized that I should be working on applying to jobs I’m not exactly qualified for, in case CS doesn’t work out for me eventually (hey, haven’t you heard we’re in a tech bubble?). So I picked up the job description for a scientific organization worker, and I blanked out. My mind had been CS-focused for so long here at Cornell.

But Shiv and Cynthia mentioned something important: just try to remember and highlight your past experiences that relate to the job description. And suddenly I felt different gears turning in my head. Memories of volunteer work I did in high school came flying back. Science clubs and competitions of long ago rushed back into focus. Suddenly, with a few minutes of writing, I no longer had nothing. Sure, I didn’t have the most jaw-dropping experiences in the world, but I had something. And that helped.

So the main takeaway is not to feel too discouraged when you come across a job description that doesn’t exactly fit you. The most significant thing I took away from the event was that when applying to jobs that we might not be exactly qualified with, we should highlight and show those that are most relevant, not necessarily most impressive. Thanks Shiv and Cynthia!

Cover Letters

For many of us finding a job could be a tedious and stressful process. It may seem difficult to stand out among thousands of applicants who are also competing for the same position. Especially, if one is applying for big companies the process can even be more challenging. It may also be difficult to impress a recruiter who is looking for a candidate that is close to an ideally best employee. Resume and cover letter are our main tools to stand out in this job hunting process.
A lot has been said about writing good resumes, but I haven’t heard much about cover letters. Personally, I think writing a cover letter can be challenging since one has to explain why s/he is the best fit for a position. It may even be hard for many college students who don’t have much work experience. Cynthia and Shiv shared some tips to use in one’s cover letter. For instance, if one knows different languages and for some reason wants a position in a company that develops software, they can explain their ability to learn and use different languages in their letter. It is also good to gather more information about the company and ask questions. In case if you don’t want the company to recognize your email, create and use a job email account. Mentioning high school experience may also be fine if it relates to the specific position one is looking for.  One should also make sure that there are no syntax errors in the letter and of course, most importantly, DOUBLE CHECK IF YOU WROTE THE COMPANY NAME CORRECTLY!

Below are more concise tips shared by Cynthia and Shiv

 

  • DO make sure you use proper salutations (e.g. “Dear Mr./Dr./Ms. So-and-so”) and closings (e.g. “Respectfully,” or “Sincerely”).
  • DO spell-check and have someone else read your letter to check for typos, mis-used words, unclear phrasings.  There is nothing worse than applying for a position – where attention to detail is necessary – and sending in a letter full of mistakes!
  • DO be creative about how your experience is valuable for something the company/organization/institution seeks, but DON’T inflate your ability to do something to the point that you are not being accurate!
  • DO be specific about how your experiences have shaped your perspective/offer some insight to the field/meet the expectations of that company/organization/institution.  
  • DO be positive about what you can offer and if there is something you lack from the list of requirements, you can address it via the experiences you do have.
  • DO seek out on-campus resources available to you as well.  Cornell’s Career Services offer walk-in help as well as practice with mock interviews (http://www.career.cornell.edu/about/come-see-us.cfm)

Good Luck!

 

Cover Letter 101

Last Thursday I attended a seminar in which we learned about the basics behind what makes a good cover letter. This seminar turned out to be very useful as the next day I had an internship application to submit. Most of the information I have heard from previous lectures from career services, but it was great to have a smaller group in order to answer specific questions. One interesting aspect of the seminar was seeing how people from different schools and different interests would have to change what they present. For example, im in ILR looking for an internship in the sports management industry and all i really have to put down (besides the obvious stuff like name, e-mail, etc.) are relevant courses, clubs, skills, and previous experiences working. Some of the science/medical students were asking questions regarding lab procedures, publications, and a bunch of other intricacies that i had never heard of. They not only have to worry about that, but also the previous information that i said earlier. Cover letters are tough because you have to tailor your information to the employer as well as what the job description entails. I thought the online dating analogy was good because there are many parallels between that and applying for a job. Overall this seminar was very helpful and i look forward to attending more events like this in the future.

The Art of the Cover Letter

Today I went to a seminar where we talked about how to craft a cover letter. I’ve never needed a cover letter for anything that I’ve applied to, so what I really just wanted to get a basic idea about what you should put in a letter. It seems like the basic concept is just to elaborate on experiences that are especially relevant to the position. It doesn’t seem incredibly hard, and these tips will help me if I ever need to write if I ever need to write a cover letter. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve never needed a cover letter. All of the internships I’ve applied for needed a resume at the most. It is still really important to know how to write a cover letter or the future.

Employers Are People Too

Last Thursday I attended the Rose House Cover Letter Seminar. I was really glad that Rose was having an event to discuss job and internship applications as I feel particularly clueless in that area. Cynthia and Shiv started by reviewing the kinds of things one would want to put on a resume. They also recommended that we keep a “master resume” containing all the things we have accomplished so as to make it easier to pare down the list to fit a particular job, while also not forgetting anything that may be relevant.

They pointed out that in job listings employer typically make it very clear what the want in a potential candidate. And in the case that a listing is less than transparent, it may be a good idea to call and inquire, without leaving your name, or to email from an alternative address. Once you know what the employer wants, you should tailor your resume to be as close to their listing as possible. Ideally, you want you and the job to be as close of a match as possible. In the event that you don’t have the exact qualification they are looking for, you can spin one of your skills or experiences to fit the qualification. For example, if you need to know a computer language but you know several foreign languages, you could spin it and say that you have the skills to learn said computer language quickly. The cover letter is the perfect place to tie things in on your resume to the qualification they are searching for.

One of the most striking thing that  Cynthia and Shiv mentioned is that employers, while reviewing large numbers of resumes just want to be done as soon as possible. The closer you can be to what they are looking for and the more concise you can be, the better.

Like a dating site

Last week I attended a Cover Letter/Resume workshop hosted by Shiv and Cynthia Hill. Although I am already set for an internship during the summer, attending this event was still a lot more helpful than I had anticipated. I especially enjoyed how Cynthia used a dating analogy for cover letters. She described how a cover letter should have only important information, no fillers, so as simply convey your strengths and qualifications for the position. You want to seem desirable, yet tell the truth, similar to the way in which you would describe yourself in a dating profile. They also talked about how to put a creative spin when speaking about your experiences. I thought this was particularly helpful because often times I’ve struggled with how to make a retail position on my resume sound much more enriching than it actually was.  I’ve heard many times how resumes should be tailored to the specific position you are applying for, but Shiv and Cynthia also suggested having a master resume that includes all of your experiences/positions. I thought this was a great idea and would make tailoring resumes much faster. Over all, the workshop was helpful and they worked with everyone individually which I thought was great! Since I mentioned that I already had an opportunity lined up for the summer, Shiv tried to help me by suggesting ways in which I could get paid positions rather than unpaid internships. It was a great way to gain greater insight into building a cover letter and definitely provided me with the necessary resources to ensure that my resume/cover letter are up to par.

When do you remove your high school experience from your resume and cover letter?

It was the beginning of the spring semester and most clubs were recruiting again. This also meant drafting many cover letters, editing and reediting your resume a million times until you got it just right. During my application process one main problem that I had with editing my resume was figuring out when do I remove my high school experience from my resume? When I was stuck with this dilemma I decided to attend the Rose seminar: secret behind the cover letter.

This seminar was very helpful and answered a lot of the questions I had. Most importantly it answered my main purpose for attending the seminar. I learned that its best to have one large document with all your past experiences from high school or even middle school to now. Then based on the industry or job or in my case club I was applying to I should cater my resume to fit the job description.

The seminar helped me in terms of understanding how to cater my resume and cover letter to the specific job or position I am applying to. I even learned that even if it was an activity or a leadership role you had in high school it would be wise to keep it in your as long as it’s relevant. Therefore, the key to knowing when you need to delete your high school experience from your resume depends on relevance.

Cover Letter Workshop

This past Thursday I attended a cover letter workshop held by GRF Shiv and Cynthia Hill. In this workshop, we discussed the various ways that you can strategically mold your resume to a specific position, as well as the function of your cover letter to provide context to your resume.

I am currently in the process of searching and applying for summer internships/research programs. Since it’s often very difficult to distinguish yourself as a candidate for positions where you are competing with hundreds of other applicants, the importance of your resume and cover letter cannot be understated. With this in mind, I had attended the workshop in hopes of learning how to use these materials to my advantage.

My biggest concern is always what is relevant to put on my resume, as well as what to include in my cover letter without being overly discursive. In response to these questions, Dr. Hill instructed that “spinning” your experiences to fit the description for the position you are seeking is a key strategy for the creation of a resume. She also discussed how the context you provide in your cover letter could allow you to further expand on your experiences in a way which suits the job you are trying to get.

Overall I found this workshop very helpful in providing an understanding for the function and composition of a cover letter, and it would be great if more workshops like this were offered in the future.

Swipe Right

I attended the Rose Seminar last Thursday “The Secret Behind the Cover Letter.”  Although I have written cover letters in the past, the seminar definitely added to my understanding and changed my mind on certain things when it comes to writing cover letters.  The seminar was presented by Dr. Cynthia Hill and GRF Shiv, and they gave us some helpful tips and insight into writing an effective cover letter.

One of the biggest things I took away from the Rose Seminar was the manner in which Dr. Hill and Shiv suggested we approach submitting a cover letter. Dr. Hill likened the process to speed-dating, in that you have a limited amount of time to make a good impression.  She said that in the time and energy a potential employer allocates to looking through potential hires is such that by tailoring your cover letter and resume effectively will convey your strengths and demonstrate how you are the best fit for the position, the employer will want to “swipe right” (although she added that Tinder was perhaps not the best analogy).  Having a “master resume”, one with all of your achievements and qualifications, is important so that you have all of your information down in one place.

When it comes time to present your resume, you want it to be as concise as possible.  Thus, taking note on what is useful for your particular application and tailor the resume (and by extension, the cover letter) you submit to present your best self.  The things on your “master resume” that are most applicable should be the ones you put down, and take away the rest.  Say, for example, that you are applying for a job that requires knowledge of a certain computer language.  You don’t know that language, but you do speak 3 languages.  Dr. Hill said that you could spin this so that even though you may not have a certain qualification, your ability to speak 3 languages attests for your ability to learn things and you can say that you can learn fast and on the job.  In conclusion, I found the seminar to be very interesting and informative, and look forward to attending more in the future.

The Cover Letter: Tips and Tricks

On Thursday, I attended the Rose Seminar entitled “The Secret Behind the Cover Letter.”  Although I had some idea on the purpose of cover letters and how they are written prior to the seminar, this event really solidified my understanding and offered many helpful tips.  We also had the opportunity to try writing a cover letter or resume and have it reviewed by Dr. Cynthia Hill and GRF Shiv.  

They emphasized important aspects of writing a resume first, since it provides the foundation for the cover letter and plays a crucial role in the job application process.  One of the most important things I learned was keeping a master record of all of your accomplishments, and then working on resume versions tailored to each job application.  Dr. Hill particularly emphasized that your cover letter should be concise and make you stand out, while creating a narrative as to why you would be a good fit for the position.  I also learned that you should keep relevant accomplishments on your resume when applying for a job, even if the accomplishment is an older one (from high school, for example).  Dr. Hill and GRF Shiv also stressed trying to reach out to current employees if possible to show interest and learn more about the company, since networking strongly increases the chances of being hired for a job.  

This seminar highlighted that even if you don’t meet every qualification for a job posting, that you should still apply.  After all, there is always a way to demonstrate that your past accomplishments and interests align with a prospective employer’s requirements.  This event was the first of the several planned Rose Seminars on job applications.  I look forward to attending these events later in the semester and sharpening these skills.  

Job Application Secrets Uncovered

On Friday I attended the Rose House Cover Letter Seminar. There I learned that the job application process starts much earlier than you would expect. As a sophomore, I have not invested much time into investigating the intricacies of job applications, but I am glad I started this process now. I learned the importance of having an artful perspective on making a good cover letter and resume. You don’t need to write down everything you’ve done; instead, simply mold your resume to emphasize the things that are applicable to the job you are applying to. After taking this seminar, I feel confident that I can write a good resume and cover letter. Additionally, I feel reassured that if keep working hard and doing what I love, I will find an employer that is a match made in heaven.

The Art of the Cover Letter

Before attending the Rose Seminar on cover letters, they had still been somewhat of a mystery to me. Yes, I know what a cover letter is, and yes, I understand the purpose, but I did not know how to craft one that would ensure that I would have the greatest chance of getting a job I apply to. In the seminar, we discussed an analogy, comparing writing a cover letter to speed dating. You need to present everything that is relevant to the job, or in the case of speed dating, say the most important things that would make you compatible with a potential date. Knowing that everything must be concise, to the point, and tailored to showcase skills and compatibility with the job is the key to a great cover letter. One thing that I really took away from this seminar was the point that one doesn’t need to be a perfect match for a job to apply. It’s all about marketing the skills you do have and framing them in a positive way to present to an employer. I think this was the best advice taken from this seminar, as it can be a common pitfall to fall into during a job hunt that no job seems to a perfect fit for anyone’s given interests, skills and experience, and then not apply. This seminar showed me that if there is a job that interests you, there is something on your resume that you have done that can be tailored and can be shown in a cover letter to an employer, regardless of whether you match every single qualification on the job description.

Standing out in the stack

The cover letter workshop tonight with House Fellow Cynthia Hill and GRF Shiv was one of the most helpful Rose Scholars events I have been to so far.  I liked how it included a discussion at the beginning about the most important aspects of a resume and a cover letter and then transitioned into a more one-on-one format where Cynthia and Shiv answered individual questions and gave comments on cover letters.

Cynthia had some great advice on ways to make my cover letter more appealing to employers: say something exciting/unique about you at the very beginning to draw them in, shorten descriptions of past experiences so that they do not get bored reading through them, and make it clear what you can offer them, not just what you hope to gain. I also had an interesting conversation with Shiv, who is currently a PhD student in biomedical engineering, about his thoughts on applying to labs, medical school, and MD-PhD programs.

I left tonight’s event feeling a lot more confident about how I can improve my cover letter so that I have a better chance of getting an interview when I apply to internships and jobs in the future. It also gave me a lot to think about in terms of my next steps after graduation.

Great Insight of Cover Letters Writing and Resume

I was excited to participate in the The Secret Behind the Cover Letter seminar by GRF Shivem on Thursday night. I have had some good experience writing resumes for finance jobs but kinds wrote my cover letters in very amateur way. We started off the seminar by discussing some crucial components of a effective resume: grades, courses, activities, professional experiences, clubs, skills, languages, software skills, etc. (there are general structure that would apply to most jobs but each industry requires specific features to it) For my finance resume, I think the most important parts are grades, courses, internship experience and leadership roles. Something important is to try to tailor everything on your resume to the specific job you are applying. For example, my general resume has a line of Software Training with items such as Microsoft Suite. But when I submit it to a bank, I changed the name to Financial Training, because software such as Excel is very crucial in many finance jobs and it is a popular skill to put on.

I was also happy to meet some other fellow Rose Scholars with various career interest. The people I sat close to are mostly interested in medical school and biology research. So it was interesting to listen to the different path they are taking to get the dream research. For me, to stand out in many candidates that seek a banking internship, I need to have high grades, relevant courses, good internships, and club leadership experiences. But it seems that medical schools are looking more at grants, fellowship, and past research experience, which are very interesting to me because these are things that I have never done before. I am in the processing of deciding whether or not to write a thesis for my economics degree, so right now I am very curious of everything about research and writing papers (let me know if you have any suggestions / advice:).

It is a snowing today and I felt fulfilled to come to this relaxing yet very educational seminar.  Good luck to everything in the process of applying!