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Resume & Cover Letter Tips to Help Your Job Application *Shine*

Whether you’re looking for your first internship or you’re getting ready to enter the job market, a strong resume and cover letter are key to making a good first impression. Check out these tips for fine tuning both to make your job application shine.

1. Highlight Your Experience Up Top

There's no "right" way to format a resume. Every industry expects different things. A general rule of thumb for media professionals however, is to keep your experience and skill set up top:

  • About You/Contact:

    • Name, Email, Phone, Location, Portfolio & LinkedIn (with embedded hyperlinks to each)

    • About You/Personal Statement (no more than 3-4 lines)

  • Skills and/or Experience

  • Education

  • Certifications/Volunteering/Leadership Roles, Awards & Achievements (optional)

2. Write a Resume for the Job You Want

Customize your resume (and cover letter) for each job you apply for. One size does not necessarily fit all in this situation! When revising your resume, have the job description for the job you want right next to you so that you can work in some of the keywords that they use.

Unfortunately, human eyes won't be the only thing scanning your resume; a computer will as well and it will likely be on the lookout for some of these keywords during an initial selection process before applications move on to the hiring manager.

3. Balance Keywords with Readability

Balancing keywords with readability can be a tricky dance. You want to include as many as possible without going overboard and mashing in keywords where they don't make sense. As with most things we produce, it is always wise to have another person, such as a friend or colleague, look it over. Hopefully, they will be able to read it without difficulty and you'll be good to go.

4. Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Yourself

As media professionals, we are used to telling other people's stories. When it comes to job hunting, however, it's important that you market yourself by talking about yourself. Don't hold back when discussing your qualifications in your cover letter or when listing your awards on your resume. Do everything you can to let employers know that YOU are the best and only person for the job.

5. The Smallest Details Can Make the Biggest Difference

Many job seekers submit their resumes with the same file name: Resume.docx (or .pdf). While that might be fine for finding the file on your home computer, imagine having dozens of files with the same name to sift through. You would never be able to find the one you were looking for!

This is what it's like for hiring managers and recruiters who download resumes from job applications. Taking that small extra step of renaming your resume to "FirstName_LastName Resume" can help you stand out as they are sure to notice this anomaly from their sea of files.


To learn more about these and other best practices, stream the full discussion on the Cronkite Career Services website. This workshop was originally recorded during the 2020 Fine Tune Friday series hosted by the Cronkite School.

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