Your résumé should be an effective marketing tool to catch the employer's attention so that you get an interview. You need to say a lot about yourself very concisely, and your résumé must be appealing to the eye and error-free. Employers assess résumés in under 30 seconds. You want to be sure to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons!
Cover letters introduce you to prospective employers and motivate them to read your résumé and learn more about your background and qualifications. These include letters of application, when you know of an opening and are writing to apply for it, and letters of inquiry, when you don't know if an opening exists but you want to explore employment possibilities with an organization. Your cover letters, like your résumé, must be well written and contain no errors. The letters should add to the information that is presented in your résumé, not just repeat it. You want to catch the reader's attention with your writing style, attention to detail, and statement of how your qualifications match the job requirements.
Where to begin
The Career Guide, published by Cornell Career Services, has information on how to develop a résumé and cover letter and includes helpful samples of both documents. The Career Guide is available online, or you can pick up a hard copy in 201 Ives or in Barnes Hall. After you've used the resources available to develop your own résumé and cover letter, the staff, and peer advisors in ILR OCS, are available to review rough drafts of your cover letters.
Optimal Resume is an additional tool offered by Cornell Career Services to help create your résumé step-by-step. Choose from many different résumé styles, and change the look of an existing résumé with just a few clicks. We find this tool to be great to create a resume for the first time. However, once you find a format you like, consider copying it into a word doc and updating as needed.