Prewriting for Résumés and Cover Letters
Though your reader begins with your cover letter and ends with your résumé, you need to work the other way around. Your first step is to create a general résumé that captures the most important details about your experience and education, for any job. Once you have a résumé, you can adjust it to fit a specific job opportunity. And then you can write a separate cover letter to apply for the job. Start by thinking about who you are.
Prewriting to Gather Details About Yourself
Before you write your résumé, you should think about your experiences and skills. At this point you don't need to worry about résumé sections or parallel structure or "telegraphic style." You just need to think about what you've learned, and what you have to offer employers. Answering questions can help.
- What three words would friends use to describe you and why?
They would call me "funny and intense and weird." I like to make jokes to get friends to laugh, but when I'm serious about something, I'm super serious. Also, I'm serious about things most people aren't, like whether food can touch on a plate or whether your toothbrush can go in a cup with others (it shouldn't).
- What three words would teachers use to describe you and why?
They would call me "hard-working, smart, and nice." I want to get good grades, so I work hard in class and on homework. That makes me come off as smart because I'm well prepared. But I'm also nice. I help other people who are having trouble.
- What would your dream job be?
I'd like to be an air-traffic controller, preferably in the Navy on an aircraft carrier. I love everything about airplanes, especially military airplanes, but I get motion sick, so I'd rather be controlling them than piloting them. An aircraft carrier is probably big enough I wouldn't get motion sick.
- What job are you best suited for right now?
I've been a lifeguard for two summers, so I know that job really well. I'd like to move up to be pool manager. It's a lot more hours but also a lot more pay. I could use the money for college.
- What experience do you have that suits you for the job?
Guarding, cleaning up the pool, staffing the front desk, being in the locker-rooms, repairs, filter cleaning, working with everybody, you name it. Also, I've been a stocker and bagger at Rioldi's for two years, so I know about hard work and following directions.
- What education do you have that suits you for the job?
I'm about to graduate high school. They want someone with at least a high school diploma. Also, I have Lifeguard Instructor certification. That's the latest one.
- Have you gotten any awards or honors?
I'm in National Honor Society and I've got a letter for Swim Team.