Never write your resume in a hurry. Also never shave in a hurry. Especially downstairs. Give yourself plenty of time to do the job right.
Never write your resume in a hurry. Also never shave in a hurry. Especially downstairs. Give yourself plenty of time to do the job right. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

Craft a killer cover letter

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

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 is when you say, "Let's get together and chat some more."

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

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?

Waiting until the end of your senior year to start writing a resume may put you on the fast track to becoming a full-time — and fully broke — basement dweller.

To up your chances of securing a job that pays actual money, Ben Wurzel, a manager and career adviser in CU's Office of Career Services, says don't wait until graduation.

"You may come to find that you have nothing to put on your resume," he said. "That's a great revelation to have freshman year instead of senior year."


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His suggestions to make yourself stand out as a good job prospect include finding leadership opportunities through campus clubs and activities, working for free or cheap through internships, and working a retail or campus job on the side to gain workplace experience.

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.

Congratulations! You have successfully written a resume that is unblemished by clip art, Comic Sans or sexually inappropriate hobbies. Now to hand it to
Congratulations! You have successfully written a resume that is unblemished by clip art, Comic Sans or sexually inappropriate hobbies. Now to hand it to potential employers, who'll just make you retype everything into their online application forms. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

"All professional work experiences, whether it's at a fast food restaurant or a Fortune 500 company, look good to an employer," he said. "It's showing you have transferable skills to other, higher-level work."

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 good, Wurzel said, but they often lack substance. Use numbers to quantify your accomplishments.

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.

"Quantifying with numbers can make a resume look really sharp," Wurzel added.

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."

Don't forget to proofread.

Ask friends, family, professors and anyone else you can bribe to read over what you've written and point out any pesky typos.

Wurzel said counselors in the Office of Career Services are also willing to take a look and review your efforts. Plus, they can help you figure out what types of jobs you should apply for in the first place.

"We have all sorts of assessments to help you get to know yourself better so your work experiences line up with who you are," he said.

Amy Bounds: twitter.com/boundsa