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#1 aab19902  Icon User is offline

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Cover Letter/Resume Critique

Posted 04 January 2010 - 12:16 PM

I have been searching for an intership, but I am not very good with resume and cover letter writing.
I would appreciate any tips or comments.

My Cover Letter is posted below:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing you to express my interest and motivation in completing a summer internship in your company. I took notice in you company while browsing the MSU career services website.

My name is Alex, I am an enthusiastic 19 year old student. I am currently a second year Bachelors student in Computer Science at Michigan State University. Although this is my second year at MSU, I have just begun my junior year. My coursework ranges from Computer Architecture to Software Development. I am extremely interested in working in your company.

Apart from my regular curriculum, I am employed at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. This allowed to me experience work in the computer industry. I am more than confident that I would make an active, open minded and useful member to your company. Surely, I would be able to contribute during my internship. I am very excited in finding an internship in the field of Software engineering.

My resume contains additional information on my experience and skills. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my candidacy with you.

Thank you for considering me,

Yours truly,

Alex


My Resume is posted below. I have it formatted in a very professional manner, but I did not want to add an attachment so I just pasted the content.


OBJECTIVE
Seeking a position that will provide excellent job experience, especially in the computer industry.
SKILLS PROFILE
▫ Excellent verbal and communication skills
▫ Fluent in C/C++
▫ Familiar with Python and SPARC assembly code
▫ Experience with various data structures and algorithms
▫ Working knowledge of Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X, and Linux
▫ Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, some experience with Access and Outlook)
EDUCATION
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI Aug 2008 - current
Computer Science
▫ Expected Graduation: May 2011
▫ GPA: 3.48/4.00
▫ Awarded Harry Hedges Scholarship – 2009 - 2010
▫ Dean’s List – Fall 2008

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

NSCL, East Lansing, MI Nov 2009 - current
Computer Assistant
▫ Serviced 400+ computers and printers
▫ Regularly performed software and hardware maintenance
▫ Imaging and installation of new computers
▫ Provided customer service in a clear and professional manner
Basket Bliss, Sterling Heights, MI 2006 - current
Team Member
▫ Delivered baskets
▫ Made invoices
▫ Tracked customer payment
Bouncy Houses LLC, Shelby Township, MI Apr 2008 – Aug 2008
Supervisor
▫ Supervised teams of up to 9.
▫ Sold tickets and addressed customer complaints
▫ Supervised children on blow up equipment
▫ Delivered equipment and instructed customers on proper use

VOLUNTEER WORK

Relay for Life, Sterling Heights, MI 2002 - current
Team Member
▫ Organized and participated in team meetings and events
▫ Helped raise over $30,000 for the American Cancer Society


Thanks for any tips or comments

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Replies To: Cover Letter/Resume Critique

#2 Smurphy  Icon User is offline

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Re: Cover Letter/Resume Critique

Posted 04 January 2010 - 12:56 PM

Wow, to me that resume is exceptional. Unfortunately, I am but a student myself so my opinion is not as important as some peoples on here. But I will wish you the absolute best in everything that you do.
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#3 NeoTifa  Icon User is online

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Re: Cover Letter/Resume Critique

Posted 04 January 2010 - 01:17 PM

Well, it depends on what it looks like on paper. I don't think most employers really like bullets for some weird reason, and for employment, I would give your latest 3 with some information, and put "more available upon request". You could also put the 3 most relevent to your job. Just some suggestions. Like:

McDonalds
123 Random St., City, State 00000
Supervisor: Joe Blow Phone: (###) ###-####
Dutis: Grill operator, cashier, and busser $7.50/hour

At least, that's how I did mine.
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#4 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Cover Letter/Resume Critique

Posted 04 January 2010 - 10:40 PM

I think your cover letter could use some revamping. I'm going to critique a couple paragraphs at a time

View Postaab19902, on 4 Jan, 2010 - 03:16 PM, said:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing you to express my interest and motivation in completing a summer internship in your company. I took notice in you company while browsing the MSU career services website.

My name is Alex, I am an enthusiastic 19 year old student. I am currently a second year Bachelors student in Computer Science at Michigan State University. Although this is my second year at MSU, I have just begun my junior year. My coursework ranges from Computer Architecture to Software Development. I am extremely interested in working in your company.

In a business letter, you usually greet the person with a To Whom It May Concern:. It sounds a little more formal this way. Then, in your opening paragraph, take a minute to introduce yourself (omit age- Employers can't legally ask for your age) immediately followed by your purpose. Include your name, and that you are a Michigan State University (not MSU- avoid acronyms) Computer Science student. Omit the coursework part. Businesses don't like to waste time or feel misled (by leaving the purpose farther in the paper than you did, so not applicable here), so just cut to the chase.

Quote

Apart from my regular curriculum, I am employed at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. This allowed to me experience work in the computer industry. I am more than confident that I would make an active, open minded and useful member to your company. Surely, I would be able to contribute during my internship. I am very excited in finding an internship in the field of Software engineering.

My resume contains additional information on my experience and skills. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my candidacy with you.

Thank you for considering me,

Yours truly,

Alex

This part was very weak, no offense. Take the opportunity in the letter to parade yourself around and gloat. Talk about your accomplishments and your skills gained. How did your employment at the NSCL help prepare you for this internship? And more importantly, where do you want to contribute and in what manner can you contribute? For example, do you want to be an entry-level Java programmer or a senior Python lead developer and project manager?

Overall, you need to rework the letter to say more about you than "I'm a CS student who found you while doing a Google search, and I want an internship." Keep in mind that this is your chance to get a foot in the door. If your cover-letter sucks, then there isn't a chance at an interview.

Hope I've helped some. I know I've been a little harsh- no offense intended anywhere. Good luck with getting the internship! :)
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#5 ForcedSterilizationsForAll  Icon User is offline

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Re: Cover Letter/Resume Critique

Posted 05 January 2010 - 01:33 PM

Your cover letter sounds way to form based and generic. You really need to cater the cover letter to the company you are applying for. To me it sounds like you don't care if you work for the company or not.

I'll give you (and your fellow students) a few tips:

1) Find out who to address the cover letter to and address it to them. This is 100x better than the generic "Dear Sir or Madam" and "To Whom It May Concern" and will help you stand out.

2) List reasons why you want to work for the company. Do some work on investigating the company. Are they established? Are they doing something good for the community? What makes you want to work for them over working for their competitor?

3) Find out what projects they have going on (if you can) and how your skills can be an asset to them. Saying "I'm a hard worker" is very generic, full of bullshit and buzz words. Instead, show them you are a hard worker through tangible examples.

4) Ask for an interview at least twice. The format I followed for my cover letters went as follows:
Paragraph 1: Introduction. Where you found their advertisement for the position (maybe with the internship it was from your colleagues or others that worked there previously), and why you are contacting them (you want to talk to them about how you would be a good fit for the company) and what you like about their company. This is a good chance to show that you've spent some time researching their company and liked it enough to apply instead of just applying because you need a job.

Paragraph 2-3:
Talk about some of the requirements they have for the position and how your experiences match those requirements. Do not list anything in the negative such as "While I don't have experience with X, I ..."

You can also show examples of how you've worked on a team (either in school or previous jobs) and what you've done to help make things successful.


Paragraph 3 or 4:
Closing. Summarize in one or two sentences why you would be a good match and ask them again for the chance to discuss in further detail your candicacy.


5) Unless your employment history is directly related to the job you are applying for, put it lower on the list. After schooling list your relevant course work.

6) For your employment history, don't put "deliver baskets" unless you will be doing delivery in the job you are applying for. Instead put the transferable skills (teamwork, excellent customer service, management skills, etc.) as the company cares less about your actual job duties and more about what skills you gained from said job duties.

7) If you get an interview thank them for their time and immediately send out a thank you note (via snail mail). In the thank you note make sure you mention something about each person you spoke with and what stood out about them (something positive or something that will make them remember you).

8) Keep a list of places you've applied, where you found the listing, what the job description/requirements were, the date you contacted them, the date they contacted you, etc. This will help keep you better organized, and if you don't hear from the people for a few weeks to months you can easily refer back and refresh your memory. Also, if you get a rejection from one company and they are hiring again, you'll be able to tell them you applied previously for one of their other positions which will show that you want to work at that company.



Remember, there are probably at least twenty to a few hundred other people applying for the same position you are so you have to do what you can to set yourself apart from the rest.

Don't get discouraged. You are going to get A LOT of rejection letters, but keep trying and good luck.
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#6 aab19902  Icon User is offline

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Re: Cover Letter/Resume Critique

Posted 05 January 2010 - 11:02 PM

Thanks for the help everyone I really appreciate it!

Anymore comments are welcome too.
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