Career: Rock Your Resume & Cover Letter

Listen, chicas: everyone knows that getting a job isn’t easy these days.

You're graduating from college (or are newly unemployed) and there is no job in sight. You've got to update your resume and write a cover letter--¡yikes!--maybe for the first time.

Calma: I’ll show you how to write an eye-grabbing resume, stick out in people’s minds at networking events, and nail that interview. Who am I? Someone who has recently spent time in the job hunting trenches. With skill, practice, a little luck, plus my tips, you'll be on your way to a dream career.


Best. Resumes. + Cover Letters. Ever.

  1. Resume review. If you’re still on campus, get thee to the career resource center and have someone look over what you’ve got or help you start from scratch. If you’re not in school, check your local community college and library for career fairs that include resume-writing classes. You can review other resume templates to see which one fits you best, helping you showcase your most relevant experience.
  2. Eliminate weak language. Words like “assisted,” “helped,” and “approximately” will make you seem wishy-washy. Employers want to see leadership experience. Were you on the school paper for four years? Talk about how you led charismatic discussions over controversial articles. Did you volunteer? Explain how you supervised your team to reach a goal by summer’s end. For those of you who have held junior positions, take a minute to brainstorm that one initiative you headed. Make sure your resume reflects that in assertive language.
  3. Be specific: show, don’t tell. Illustrate what you did with numbers, percentages, and concise phrasing: “designed and executed business proposal that cut expenses by 30%”; “performed critical research that reduced signs of infection in 250 out of the 300 tested lab rats.” Nothing will boast your greatness more than cold, hard, números. Don't have your performance statistics? Ask your previous employers if they’re available.
  4. Never, ever, use a form cover letter. Do not simply summarize your resume but be creative. Discuss a personal experience that inspired you to volunteer or elaborate on an aspect of a job you held. You’ve got to show that the qualities you picked up will help you excel at this new position. A customized cover letter each time is more work. But you want to send a clear message to your potential employer that you sincerely want to work for her organization.

Still intimidated? Here are my resume and cover letter writing go-to online resources:

  • is packed with templates, company profiles, and advice communities.
  • Check out your college or alumni association for online resume writing guides.

"Career: Rock Your Resume & Cover Letter" is Part 1 of a three part career series where I, a recent grad, document my job hunt and share the secrets I'm learning. Next up: stand out at networking events.

Marjorie Romeyn-Sanabria is a recent graduate from Wesleyan Marjorie_Romeyn_Sanabria-TheWiseLatinaClubUniversity, where she majored in East Asian Studies. A long-time lover of culture, languages, and food, Marjorie’s interests have taken her from New York to China and back again. She lives in New York City, where she works for a major insurance agency by day and writes by night.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to writing your resume or cover letter?