Don’t turn your cover letter and resume into a mass marketing exercise. Get personal. Get revenge. (No, wait, skip that last part.)
Don't turn your cover letter and resume into a mass marketing exercise. Get personal. Get revenge. (No, wait, skip that last part.) (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

Craft a killer cover letter

Ah, the cover letter. One of the trickiest skills to master.

We're overthinking it, Wurzel says. All we need is a good metaphor.

"A cover letter is a lot like speed dating."

In the first paragraph, you say "why them" — why you want to work there.

Use the second paragraph to say "why you" — why they should want you to work there.

And the final paragraph, Wurzel says, is when you say, "Let's get together."

Ask for an interview or prompt a follow up, with a line in there about the mutual benefits of bringing you on board.

Nail your next interview

You've got your foot in the door. Don't make them slam it shut on you by looking sloppy and incompetent.

There are three questions every interviewer is thinking when they talk to you: Do you have the skills (or the ability to learn) needed to do the job? Do you have the enthusiasm to do the job? and Do I like you?

"Show you work well on teams, handle conflict well, and in general have disposition that's easy to work with," Wurzel recommends.

Something students tend to undervalue is the group work they've done — mostly because tons of people hate working in groups, Wurzel says. But the ability to work well with others is crucial, and enthusiasm for teamwork can make you stand out.


"Those are the experiences students can gain in college that, if they can really master the art of working with others, (are) going to serve them."

Unless you want to be a professional basement dweller for the rest of your life, (wait, is that an option?) at some point, you're going to want a job. That, you know, pays money.

And if the only qualifications on your resume are Champion Beer Ponger and Most One Night Stands Without Contracting an STD, your options are going to be limited.

Follow these tips from Ben Wurzel, program manager for outreach and career counselor in CU's Office of Career Services.

Don't sell yourself short

Wurzel said one of the biggest mistakes students make when crafting a resume is leaving out work experience that they think isn't relevant to the job. But any job you've had is relevant, he said, because it proves you can hold a job.

"Working as a waiter or at summer camp, that experience is actually very valuable to show (you) have work ethic and other transferrable skills," he said.

And if you've been in college for four years and lucky enough to have someone else paying all your bills? Write that down, too: College is hard work and definitely should be on your resume.

It's a numbers game

Bullet points highlighting your experience and skills are great, Wurzel said, but they often lack substance.

"Whenever possible, include numbers or statistics," he said.

For instance, a 4.0 GPA is great, but did you graduate in the top 1 percent of your class? Shout that out. Being a manager at Hollister is cool, too, but it becomes much more impressive if you oversaw 15 other people.

"Numbers make the bullet points pop out," Worzel added. "It really draws that attention in and says, 'This is a person who pays attention to detail.'"

No mass marketing

You know when you get a mass text from that one friend wishing you a Happy New Year? It's OK, but it doesn't give you the warm fuzzies of a personal message sent only to you.

The same is true for resumes and cover letters.

"Do not send out 100 of the same cover letters just changing names of company," Wurzel cautions. "For jobs you really want, write a cover letter for each individual job. It shows you've done your research and matched what you've got to offer with what they're looking for."

He recommends having a master resume with all your creds on it, then creating a one-page resume that targets a specific job.

Don't get fancy

Resume templates are all over Buzzfeed and Pinterest these days: Trendy colors and fonts, eye-catching graphics — they're mega cute and oh-so-easy to plug your creds into (giggity).

But use caution, Wurzel said.

"Keep it simple and basic," he said. "Stay away from anything that's too flashy.

"One important thing to keep in mind is your resume is your marketing material. The goal is not to get the job, it's to get the interview."

Shay Castle: