If you have ever had a job or wanted one — chances are that you have probably written a resume or a cover letter at some point throughout your adolescence. I remember sitting in Careers and Civics class in grade ten — learning about “Relevant Experience” and what fonts are most appropriate for your cover letter — and thinking to myself that the class was pretty useless. I already had a job and my resume-writing skills had been good enough to land myself two jobs since I was old enough to have one! My 15-year-old brain had decided that I had mastered the art of getting a job, no need to pay attention… Ha. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My approach to writing cover letters had a simple and successful algorithm; “Hello, Sir/Ms, I am Madeline. I want to work for you because… You should want me to work for you because… Hope to hear from you.”
But when I started university, it came as a shock to me when three job opportunities came — and went — in the first two months of first year.
I needed a job and so using my old resume tricks, I was able to land a position at an espresso bar near campus. Sure, I had lots of food industry experience, heck — I could make a double shot, no foam, skinny, extra hot latte with my eyes closed — but being a barista for another year wasn’t what I wanted.
What I wanted was a job at the university to expand my job experience, but it was becoming clear to me that my resume and cover letter were simply not cutting it.
This is how I landed myself at a resume workshop put on by the Career Centre on a Wednesday night of last year. There was a summer job being offered at my residence building that I was determined to get and I was not going to let my resume hold me back.
I cannot stress how helpful the workshop was. As a group, we were guided through the differences between a good and an excellent resume, how we could showcase our own skills and previous work experience, what made a work or volunteer experience relevant and how we could strategically write a cover letter that won’t be tossed to the side.
I learned that it’s okay to have a two page resume (but only two!), that it isn’t childish to include high-school experience if it is truly applicable to the job you’re applying for and that it is crucial to write an all-new cover letter for each position you’re interested in. We were given a lot of free resources on resume building and even examples to use as a template. It was probably one of the best uses of a Wednesday evening I can think of to date. Best part? I got the job.
If you are struggling with writing a resume/cover letter or just need some guidance in updating your job-getting strategies the Career Centre is an amazing resource that you can take advantage of for free.
If you don’t have the time to go to a workshop, the Career Centre website has a lot of great tips and resources that you can easily access, including a printable resume toolkit, online guides and pointers on how to land a job while in university and once you’re out in the workforce.