Resumes, cover letters, curricula vitae & interviews

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Resumes

Most employers spend 10-15 seconds reviewing a resume. Employers will look closer at your resume if you have articulated skills and experience that match what the employer is seeking. Once you have started your resume using the toolkit and examples below, book an appointment with a Job Coach to have your resume reviewed.

Resumes/curricula vitae for graduate school and research

If you are a student who is applying for research positions, graduate, or professional programs you should use a modified format. This format should include all your resume headlines with additional pieces such as research interests, academic experience, and academic achievements. Once you have started your resume/curricula vitae (CV) using the toolkit and examples below, book an appointment with a Job Coach to have your resume reviewed.

Academic curriculum vitae

Graduate students applying for academic positions need an academic curriculum vitae. In an academic CV you should highlight your academic achievements, publications, scholarly interests, research, and laboratory skills. The main difference between a CV and a resume is that a CV has no length restrictions. A CV is a running inventory of all academic experiences. Once you have started your CV using the toolkit and examples below, book an appointment with a Job Coach to have your resume reviewed.

Examples

Cover letters

Include a cover letter when indicated in the job posting.

A cover letter personalizes your application and is a chance for you to emphasize your most relevant qualifications and how they relate to the position. You will also tell the employer how you will be a good fit for the organization and what you know about the organization. Once you have started your cover letter using the toolkit and examples below, book an appointment with a Job Coach to have your cover letter reviewed.

Interviews

Your resume was effective. You got an interview!

The interview is the time to determine if this opportunity is a good fit for both yourself and the employer. The employer will learn about your passion, skills, and abilities. You will have a chance to ask the employer questions about their organization and workplace culture.

The employer has seen your resume with your experience and education and now they want to meet you to determine if you are a good fit for the organization and if you are passionate about the work they do.

The type of interview can vary depending on industry and size of the organization. When you are invited for the interview ask what format they will use and who will conduct the interview so that you can best prepare.

Interview types

Telephone interview

This type of interview is often used as a prescreen to narrow down a large number of applicants to determine who will be invited for an in person interview.

Virtual interview

If the position is not where you live you could be invited for a virtual interview. You will still need to dress the part and ensure you have a solid internet connection as well as a clean backdrop.

Multiple level interviews

This type involves more than one interview sometimes, although this is not always indicated when you are first invited. The first interview determines if your transferable skills and experiences fit the role. The second interview is to narrow down the top candidates and often involves the employer seeking more specific skills and examples. This could involve being invited to tour the working space or an invitation for a social event all of which they will be observing you.

For any of the above interviews you may experience one person, a panel, a board, or committee generally made up of three or more people. Other interview components to prepare for include presentations, case studies, role play, and pre-employment screening tests often done before or after an interview.

Preparing for the interview

Once you know the interview type and who will be interviewing it is time to prepare and practice.

Research yourself

Create an inventory of your skills and experiences with examples of how and when you demonstrated such skills. This is your time to sell yourself and let the employer know you are a great fit for this role.

Revisit the position

Revisit the responsibilities associated with the position so that when you are forming your answers they are demonstrating your transferable skill set.

Research the employer

Who are they and what are their core values? Read their strategic plan and find out what direction they are taking. Use the website or social media to connect with individuals you may know who are connected to the industry to find out more information to help you in the interview and also to help determine if this is a good fit for you.

Practice questions

Create a list of potential practice questions and potential answers with specific examples.

During the interview

Timing

You do not want to be late but also not too early. Remember the individual at the front desk is the eyes and ears of the organization so treat them respectfully.

Dress

Dress for the industry and position you have applied to. All industries have different dress codes.

Devices

Turn off all devices before you enter the building.

Show them you are a good fit

Connect your skills and experiences to the questions asked and demonstrate that you fit the role.

Ask questions

Asking questions shows you are interested and curious to learn more about the organization. Asking questions will also help you decide if you are a good fit for the organization and if your values match.

After the interview

Record questions

When you leave the interview quickly write down any questions that you felt you could have answered better so you can practice for the next interview.

Follow up

Send a thank you email within 24 hours of your interview to all individuals who interviewed you reiterating one to three points of why you are a good fit.

Feedback

If you do not get an interview, ask for feedback so you can improve for your next interview.

Interview questions

Interviews often include a mix of questions.

Types of questions

Open ended questions

These questions are not meant to be answered with a yes or a no. For example, tell me about yourself?

Behavioural based questions

This type of question is seeking specific examples of where you have demonstrated a specific skill or worked through a situation. For example, can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with an especially difficult customer and how you handled the situation?

Technical and field specific questions

These questions could be a case study related to the business or a technical math question related to computer science or a policy change in government that could be related to social work or international relations. These types of questions or problems are meant to be answered on the spot.

Answering a question

When answering interview questions use the STAR method whenever possible. STAR stands for:

  • S – Describe the situation
  • T – Identify the task you had
  • A – Explain the action you took
  • R – Sum up the result and its effects on the people it involved

References

If an employer is seriously considering you for the position they will ask for your references, you must come prepared. Being prepared requires you to ask your references for permission to use them each and every time you use them. Send your references the job posting, your resume, and cover letter for them to refer to when answering the reference check questions.

When you are providing the references to the employer you need to include:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Organization
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Relationship to you