Applying for a Job: Resumes and Application Forms
Resumés and application forms
Résumés and application forms are two ways to provide employers with written evidence of your qualifications and skills. Generally, the same information appears on both the résumé and the application form, but the way in which it is presented differs. Some employers prefer a résumé and others require an application form. The accompanying box presents the basic information you should include in your résumé.
There are many ways of organizing a résumé; choose the format that best showcases your skills and experience. It may be helpful to look for examples on the Internet or in books at your local library or bookstore. Typically, an employer has a very limited amount of time to review your résumé. It is important to make sure it is clear and concise, and highlights your skills and experiences effectively through the use of formatting, ordering, and headings.
Many employers scan résumés into databases, which they then search for specific keywords or phrases. The keywords are usually nouns referring to experience, education, personal characteristics, or industry buzz words. Identify keywords by reading the job description and qualifications; use the same words in your résumé that are used in the job ad. For example, if the job description includes customer service tasks, use the words "customer service" on your résumé. Scanners sometimes misread paper résumés, which could mean some of your keywords don’t get into the database. So, if you know that your résumé will be scanned, and you have the option, e-mail an electronic version. If you must submit a paper résumé, make it scannable by using a simple font and avoiding underlines, italics, and graphics. It is also a good idea to send a traditionally formatted résumé along with your scannable résumé, with a note on each marking its purpose.
When you fill out an application form, make sure you fill it out completely and follow all instructions. Do not omit any requested information and make sure that the information you provide is correct.
A cover letter is sent with a résumé or application form, as a way of introducing yourself to prospective employers. As with your résumé, it may be helpful to look for examples on the Internet or in books at your local library or bookstore, but be sure not to copy letters directly from other sources. Your cover letter should be original, capture the employer’s attention, follow a business letter format, and usually should include the following information:
- Name and address of the specific person to whom the letter is addressed.
- Reason for your interest in the company or position.
- Your main qualifications for the position.
- Request for an interview.
- Your home and work telephone numbers.
If you send a scannable résumé, you should also include a scannable cover letter, which is created similarly to a scannable résumé, by avoiding graphics, fancy fonts, italics, and underlines.
What Usually Goes into a Résumé
- Name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number.
- Employment objective. State the type of work or specific job you are seeking.
- Education, including school name and address, dates of attendance, major, and highest grade completed or degree awarded. Consider including any courses or areas of focus that might be relevant to the position.
- Experience, paid and volunteer. For each job, include the job title, name and location of employer, and dates of employment. Briefly describe your job duties.
- Special skills, computer skills, proficiency in foreign languages, achievements, and membership in organizations.
- References, only when requested.
- Keep it short; only one page for less experienced applicants.
- Avoid long paragraphs; use bullets to highlight key skills and accomplishments.
- Have several people review your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors.
- Print it on high quality paper.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.
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