Supporting Job Application Documents

Applying for an internship, transitioning into your career after graduation or changing jobs will require you to prepare job application documents: resume, cover letter, and a list of references. These documents will determine whether you will be invited for an interview. 

Student and alumni are encouraged to utilize our free service for reviewing your documents or preparing for an interview. One-on-one appointments are available. Schedule an Appointment Request online or call 907-745-9746. 

What is a Resume?

Is a summary of your education, work history, credentials, accomplishments and skills. A resume should be as concise as possible, typically one page but can be as long as two pages depending on your educational and employment history. Employers use it to screen qualified applicants to invite for an interview. It is used to evaluate your written communication skills, attention to detail and qualifications. 

  • Parts of a Resume
    Heading: Incudes full name, complete mailing address, phone number and professional email address.
     
    Example:
    JANE SMITH - Can be in all-caps or bold and a larger font.
    1234 College Drive
    Palmer, AK 99645
    jane.smith@outlook.com
    907-123-4567
     
    Summary Statement or Summary of Qualifications (Format options: bold, all caps, or underline; keep it simple, do not do all.)

    Summarizes your skills, education and experience at the beginning of your resume to help employer quickly get a sense of what your can offer them.

    1. A self-introduction which highlights the number of years you have worked in your chosen industry, and the most notable duties you performed.
    2. A clear statement about how you will utilize your strongest relevant skills and professional experiences to fulfill the particular role you are applying for.
    3. A concluding sentence which draws attention to any relevant certifications, awards or professional training you have to your name. 
    Education
    Only include high school or GED credentials if you have never attended a post-secondary institution. Place education before experience if you are a recent graduate or have fewer than five years of work experience. List the most recent first (reverse chronological order).
    • Name of Institution- Written out completely
    • City, State
    • Name of degree/certificate- Written out completely, Associate of Arts (AA) in Mathematics
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Month/ Year of Graduation or Anticipated Graduation May 2019
    Example:
    Associate of Arts in Mathematics   Anticipated Graduation May 2019
    Mat-Su College, University of Alaska Anchorage
    Palmer, AK
     
     
    Employment/Work History 
    • Include relevant positions and jobs based on the job description, regardless of status (seasonal, internships, part-time, full-time)
    • Do not abbreviate
    • Include location and position of company
    • Dates worked
    • Bullet active statements reflecting what each position entailed. This is not a “list” of things you did or accomplished but instead a description of the most important skills, activities, projects, etc. that you engaged in while working in this position.  Each bullet point should start with an action verb that demonstrates your accomplishments and or duty with measure. Use a consistent verb tense throughout your resume.
        • Increased productivity by 10% by reassessing procedures
        • Increased sales by 15% by….
    Examples:
     
    Wells and Rogers Public Relations, Orlando, Florida
    Special Events Coordinator                                                           September 2010 - Present 

    •Coordinate receptions and business meetings for two Fortune 500 companies
    •Write bi-monthly press releases and create weekly  public service announcements
    •Publish and distribute monthly employee newsletter
    •Design direct mailing advertisements for clients with a combined target audience of over one million
     
    or
     
    Business Office Coordinator                                                         October 2007 – August 2010
    Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Winter Springs, FL

    •Maintain multi-line switchboard and page system, record messages, and provide insurance and billing information to medical facilities
    •Assist residents and family members with inquiries regarding meals, activities, and visitation policies
    •Coordinate volunteer schedules for 12 students helping at front desk and throughout facility
     
     
    Skills:  Be specific when possible. If you are proficient in a specific program, list that program. Make sure you accurately portray your skill level:
    • Understanding = basic functioning
    • Proficient = medium to higher understanding
    • Advanced = expert and beyond. May hold certifications in specific programs.
     

    References: Optional or if include, say Available Upon Request

  • Types of Resumes
    Chronological: starts by listing your work history, with the most recent position listed first. Works well for job seekers with a strong, solid work history.
     
    Functional: focuses on your skills and experience. Instead of having a “work history” section at the top of your resume, you might have a “professional experience” or “accomplishments”.
     
    Combination: is a mix between a chronological resume and a functional resume. One’s skills and qualifications are listed at the top followed by one’s chronological work history.
     

    Based on what you are trying to highlight in your resume, you should always customize your resume for each and every job you are applying for. 

  • Action Verbs for Resumes
    • Team Leadership: administered, collaborated, completed, contracted, coordinated, developed, devised, directed, distributed, elected, established, evaluated, expanded, implemented, initiated, introduced, maintained, organized, patented, planned, rated, selected, started, recommended, regulated, etc.
    • Management: accounted for, allocated, analyzed, appointed, booked, budgeted, commissioned,  compiled, coordinated, developed, evaluated, executed, financed, functioned, improved, instructed, interviewed, managed, negotiated, operated, prepared, supervised, scheduled, verified, etc.
    • Technical: adjusted, assembled, assigned, calculated, compiled, conducted, designed, directed, estimated, fabricated, inspected, interpreted, observed, reviewed, tested, etc. • Communication: addressed, authored, composed, drafted, edited, influenced, lectured, taught, etc.
    • Customer relations: advertised, greeted, handled, promoted, served, welcomed, etc.
    • Human relations: advocated, counseled, documented, educated, empowered, explained, facilitated, informed, mediated, mentored, recruited, tutored, etc.
  •  Tips
    • Keep your resume at one or two full pages (no half pages). Don’t skimp on the details but don’t write a novel. Employers spend less than 30 seconds summarizing a resume and determining whether the candidate should be considered.
    • Make sure your name appears on subsequent pages in case it becomes separated from the first page.
    • Use a clean, easy to read font in the appropriate size. Consider using Arial, Baskerville, Tahoma, Georgia, Trebuchet or Times New Roman in 11 or 12-point font.
    • If submitting a paper resume, use thicker weight paper. Do not use regular white printer/copier paper.
    • If applying resume online, convert it from Word to a PDF before submitting it; this maintains the integrity of the format and font.
    • Do not rely on spell check. Ask another person to critique it for spelling, grammatical errors, and overall structure.
  • Resume Check-List
    Resume critique checklist Make sure your resume hits all the right marks.
     Kim Isaacs, Monster resume expert
     
    First Impression
    • Does the resume look original and not based on a template?
    • Is the resume inviting to read, with clear sections and ample white space?
    • Does the design look professional rather than like a simple typing job?
    • Is a qualifications summary included so the reader immediately knows the applicant’s value proposition?
    • Is the length and overall appearance of the resume appropriate given the career level and objective?
    Appearance
    • Does the resume provide a visually pleasing, polished presentation?
    • Is the font appropriate for the career level and industry?
    • Are there design elements such as bullets, bold letters, and lines to guide readers’ eyes through the document and highlight important content?
    • Is there a good balance between text and white space?
    • Are margins even on all sides?
    • Are design elements like spacing and font size used consistently throughout the document?
    • If the resume is longer than a page, does the second page contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?
    Resume Sections
    • Are all resume sections clearly labeled?
    • Are sections placed in the best order to highlight the applicant’s strongest credentials?
    • Is the work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?
    Career Goal
    • Is the career objective included toward the top of the resume in a headline, objective or qualifications summary?
    • Is the resume targeted to a specific career goal and not trying to be a one-size-fits-all document?
    • If this is a resume for career change, is the current objective clearly stated, along with supporting details showing how past experience is relevant to the new goal?
    Accomplishments
    • Does the resume include a solid listing of career accomplishments?
    • Are accomplishments quantified by using numbers, percentages, dollar amounts or other concrete measures of success?
    • Do accomplishment statements begin with strong, varied action verbs?
    • Are accomplishments separated from responsibilities?
    Relevance
    • Is the information relevant to hiring managers’ needs? Does the resume’s content support the career goal?
    • Is the resume keyword-rich, packed with appropriate buzzwords and industry acronyms?
    • Is applicable additional information, such as awards and affiliations, included, while personal information like marital status, age and nationality unrelated to the job target omitted?
    Writing Style
    • Is the resume written in an implied first-person voice with personal pronouns, such as I, me and my, avoided?
    • Is the content flow logical and easy to understand?
    • Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling, grammar or syntax errors?

    Isaacs, K, 2018. Resume critique checklist. Make sure your resume hits all the right marks. Monster. Retrieved from: https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/Resume-Critique-Checklist

  • Sample Resume
     

 

References: Employers may request a list of professional references which can include: former employer, colleague, teacher, advisor, supervisor. Try to have three or four professional references but only list the number of professional references required on the application paperwork or, if there is not a specific number required, list 3-5 references.

  • Before you list a person as a reference, get their permission and give them a little bit of information on the position that you are applying for so they can be prepared.
  • Include the person’s full name, position (current or former), and place of employment.
  • Include a phone number and email.
  • References can be listed in reverse chronological order or alphabetical order.
  • Your references should be on a separate page with the same header with your name and contact info that is listed on your resume. This gives it a clean, professional image.
  • Unless the employer asks for it, you do not need to provide a references page with the cover letter and resume. You can turn all documents in together, but you could also bring a copy to the initial interview or provide the list of references when it’s specifically asked for by the hiring manager.

A note about references: Employers tend to call references in the order in which they appear. Make sure your references are aware that you applied for a position and all contact information is up to date. Communicating with your references about your employment search will help them provide a comprehensive reference. If you have not communicated with your current employer about your employment search, do not include them as a reference until you have been able to talk with the employer about your candidacy.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is an important aspect of the application process for employment. It is the example of the individuals written communication skills. The primary purpose of the cover letter is to acquaint the prospective employer with your unique talents and skills and to arrange an interview to discuss employment possibilities. There should be a distinct area where the interest in the job is expressed, the individuals experience and how it correlates to the prospective job is listed, and availability is mentioned for the employer’s convenience. The cover letter is the area where it is most important to pay close attention to grammar, punctuation, and the overall “flow” of your writing. 

Cover Letter Format and Content 

Format: Business Letter 
 
Your Contact Information
Full Name
Address
City, State, Zip
Phone
Email


Date

Employer's Contact Information
Person’s Name (If you have it)
Title (If you have it)
Company Name
Company Address 1
City, State, Zip
 
Salutation:

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

FIRST PARAGRAPH:
Arouse the employer’s interest by briefly mentioning such information as a relevant accomplishment or your enthusiasm for the job. Avoid such stereotypical over-used first sentences as “This is in answer to your advertisement,” or “I am a senior in Social Work at UAA.” You do want to state who you are and the purpose of the letter, but take some time and think of an interesting, thought-provoking, or eye-catching introductory paragraph.

MIDDLE PARAGRAPH:
Describe your interest in the position, in the field or work, or in the organization. If you have work experience, be sure to mention pertinent data or accomplishments to show that you have specific qualifications or skills for this particular type of work. Refer to key aspects of the resume which relate to the job or employer, but don’t restate complete sections of the resume.

CLOSING PARAGRAPH:
Mention your interest in discussing the job in person and give dates when you are available. Ending the letter with a question may encourage a more prompt reply.

Complimentary Closing

Sincerely (or some type of closing greeting),
(Handwritten signature)
Your typed name 

What is the purpose of an interview?
All interviewers have two major questions in mind: (1) how well suited are you for the job, and (2) are you genuinely interested in the employer and position? They are trying to get enough information about your background, strengths and level of interest to answer these questions. In addition, as a prospective employee, you need to learn as much as you can about the position and work place so that you can decide if they are what you want.

POINTS TO REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR INTERVIEW 
  • The interview is a two-way conversation. Try to relax and enjoy the opportunity. 
  • Don’t be vague; be specific.  You’ll be much more interesting.
  • Be prepared to describe why you are interested in that employer, and give specific characteristics about the kind of position that you want. 
  • Sell yourself.  If you don’t state what your strengths, skills and accomplishments are, the recruiter will be unable to sell you as a good candidate.
  • Genuine self-confidence and confidence in your ability to perform well at the job are your best assets in any interview. This attitude of confidence is one of the best indicators to the employer that you are the person needed for the position.

The Career Development office provides an opportunity to schedule a Mock-Interview. 

  • What to expect
    You need to be ready to handle a variety of interview formats, from the highly structured to the unstructured type.
    Most initial, 30 minute interviews are semi-structured and include:
     
    • ice breaking 2-5 minutes
    • interviewer’s questions 12-15 minutes
    • applicant’s questions 5-8 minutes
    • closing remarks 2-3 minutes

    Most interviewers are friendly and want you to feel relaxed.  There are many styles of interviewing, just as there are many styles of teaching, and you will feel more comfortable talking with some recruiters than others. 

  • How you can best prepare?
    • Do research on yourself, first.  Know what kind of job you want, why you want it, and what makes you feel qualified.  Think about what information you want to include in your responses.  Don’t go in “cold” and expect to do well, but don’t memorize, either.
    • You will need to provide evidence of your skills, background, and experiences as they relate to the needs of the job and the employer. You will need to discuss specific work tasks or courses and the skills you developed through them.   
    • Practice answering the Common Interview Questions below.
    • Do research on the career field.  Most first time job seekers do not realize the importance of knowing about the job they will be performing.  In general, you should have an understanding of what you would be doing on a daily basis, typical responsibilities, skills needed for success on the job, and possible career paths.
    • Do research on the employer.  First get the basics, including the organization’s size, location(s), product(s) or service(s), organization of the company, major competitors, latest news reports on the company, etc.  Then look for details relevant to the position you seek: job description, training, advancement paths, etc.  You may need to look several places to get this information.
    • Talk with someone in the organization who is in the type of position that interests you.
    • Take advantage of the variety of free services offered at Student Services Career Development office including: handouts, other resources, interviewing workshops, one-on-one mock interviews and critiques. 
  • What is the Interviewer looking for?

    On-campus recruiters at UAA were asked “What was most impressive about your best interviewees?” They answered: 

    • PREPARED. Knowledge of and interest in the employer. “Had researched our company and was prepared with questions about job duties and how she would be evaluated.”
    • PERSONALITY. Confidence, friendliness, enthusiasm, poise, assertiveness. “Showed enthusiasm for an opportunity to work in an area he had studied and liked.”
    • CAREER GOALS. Have specific areas of interest in mind. “He had a definite idea of what he wanted.  He demonstrated this in the nature of his direct questions.”
    • COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Nonverbal skills and body language are as crucial as content of conversation. “Relaxed, smiled, and appeared to be following what was said.  Gave the impression of being compatible with others.”
    • APPEARANCE. Neat, professional dress.  Not overly flashy or made up. “Neat appearance, well groomed, conservatively attired.” 
    • EXPERIENCE. Awareness of own skills and how they relate to the world of work. “Undertook responsibilities other than just being a student.
  • Common Interview Questions

    Personal
    1. Tell me about yourself.
    2. What are your hobbies?
    3. Why did you choose to interview with our organization?
    4. Describe your ideal job.
    5. What can you offer us?
    6. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
    7. Can you name some weaknesses?
    8. Define success. Failure.
    9. Have you ever had any failures? What did you learn?
    10. Of which three accomplishments are you most proud?
    11. Who are your role models? Why?
    12. How does your college education or work experience relate to this job?
    13. What motivates you most in a job?
    14. Have you had difficulty getting along with a former professor/supervisor/co-worker and how did you handle it?
    15. Have you ever spoken before a group of people?
    16. Why should we hire you rather than another candidate?
    17. What do you know about our organization (products or services)?
    18. Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years?
    19. Do you plan to return to school for further education?

    Education
    20. Why did you choose your major?
    21. Why did you choose to attend your college or university?
    22. In what ways do you think you received a good education?
    23. In which campus activities did you participate?
    24. Which classes in your major did you like best? Least?
    25. Which elective classes did you like best? Least? Why?
    26. If you were to start over, what would you change about
    your education?
    27. Do your grades accurately reflect your ability? Why or why not?
    28. Were you financially responsible for any portion of your college education?

    Experience
    29. What job-related skills have you developed?
    30. Did you work while going to school? In what positions?
    31. What did you learn from these work experiences?
    32. What did you enjoy most about your last employment? Least?
    33. Have you ever quit a job? Why?
    34. Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
    35. Give an example of a time in which you worked under deadline pressure.
    36. Have you ever done any volunteer work? What kind?
    37. How do you think a former supervisor would describe your work?

    Career Goals
    38. Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own?
    39. What kind of boss do you prefer?
    40. Would you be successful working with a team?
    41. Do you prefer large or small organizations? Why?
    42. What other types of positions are you considering?
    43. How do you feel about working in a structured environment?
    44. Are you able to work on several assignments at once?
    45. How do you feel about working overtime?
    46. How do you feel about travel?
    47. How do you feel about the possibility of relocating?
    48. Are you willing to work flextime?

    Before you begin interviewing, think about these questions and possible responses and discuss them with a career advisor. Conduct mock interviews and be sure you are able to communicate clear, unrehearsed answers to interviewers.

    Practicing for your interview really pays off! Student Services Career Development Office offers mock interviews to help you work out any kinks, nervousness, or uncertainties that you may have about your incoming interview! Appointment Request

  • Suggested Questions to ask Employers

    SUGGESTED QUESTIONS TO ASK EMPLOYERS DURING AN INTERVIEW

    1. Please describe the duties of the job for me.
    2. What kinds of assignments might I expect the first six months on the job?
    3. Are salary adjustments geared to the cost of living or job performance?
    4. Does your company encourage further education?
    5. How often are performance reviews given?
    6. What products (or services) are in the development stage now?
    7. Do you have plans for expansion?
    8. What are your growth projections for next year?
    9. Have you cut your staff in the last three years?
    10. How do you feel about creativity and individuality?
    11. Do you offer flextime?
    12. Is your company environmentally conscious? In what ways?
    13. In what ways is a career with your company better than one with your competitors?
    14. Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?
    15. What is the largest single problem facing your staff now?
    16. May I talk with the last person who held this position?
    17. What is the usual promotional time frame?
    18. Does your company offer either single or dual career track programs?
    19. What do you like best about your job/company?
    20. Once the probation period is completed, how much authority will I have over decisions?
    21. Has there been much turnover in this job area?
    22. Do you fill positions from the outside or promote from within first?
    23. What qualities are you looking for in the candidate who fills this position?
    24. What skills are especially important for someone in this position?
    25. What characteristics do the achievers in this company seem to share?
    26. Is there a lot of team/project work?
    27. Will I have the opportunity to work on special projects?
    28. How much travel, if any, is involved in this position?
    29. What is the next course of action? When should I expect to hear from you or should I contact you?

    Practicing for your interview really pays off! Student Services Career Development offers mock interviews to help you work out any kinks, nervousness, or uncertainties that you may have about your upcoming interview. Call 907-745-9746 to schedule your mock interview.

  • Attire for the Interview
    In most business and technical job interviews, when it comes to your appearance, conservatism and conformity are in order. For your interviews, some of your individual style might be kept in your closet. When in doubt, it’s better to be conservative than too flashy.  
     
    MEN
    • Suit (pants/jacket) – solid and tailored in conservative colors (navy, gray, brown, or black)
    • White or business blue dress shirt; solid colors and tighter-woven fabrics are safer than bold prints or patterns
    • Tie – conservative; no distracting designs or loud colors. The bottom should touch the top of the belt. The top should fit snugly around the neck.
    • Shoes – slip on or lace up dress shoes; no athletic-type shoes
    • Socks – solid; calf-length; should match the color of the shoes; no skin is visible when you sit down and cross your legs.
    • Belts – conservative; no flashy buckles. Should match the color of the pants and preferably the shoes.
    • Fingernails and facial hair – well groomed, clean, and trimmed
    Men's Suite
    WOMEN
    • Pants – solid and tailored in conservative colors • Jacket – solid and tailored in conservative colors.  Ideally part of a suit, but a close match is acceptable (black pants/black jacket)
    • Dress – Sheath (one piece) tailored, with coordinating cardigan or jacket.  Hemline at the knees.
    • Skirt – solid.  Ideally part of a suit but a close match is acceptable.  Hemline at the knees.
    • Shirt – white or solid. May opt for some color but still conservative.  Watch the neckline!
    • Shoes – low heeled, conservative colors, clean and polished.  No open toed or backless styles.
    • Stockings – neutral color; no bare legs.
    • Jewelry – Conservative, nothing flashing or noisy.
    • Fingernails – well groomed, clean, and trimmed. Length should be at the end of your fingertip 
    • Make-up/perfume – use sparingly. Simple is best.
    Woman's Interview Suit
    Staying Within a Budget
    For recent graduates just entering professional life, additions to wardrobes are likely needed. Limited funds, however, can be an obstacle. The most important piece in any wardrobe is a jacket that is versatile and can work with a number of other pieces, according to one fashion expert. This applies to men and women. If you focus on a suit, buy one with a jacket which may be used with other pants or skirts. 
     
    A Final Check
    And, of course, your appearance is only as good as your grooming. Create a final checklist to review before you go on an interview: 
    • Neatly trimmed hair • Conservative makeup
    • No runs in stockings • Shoes polished (some suggest wearing your sneakers on the way to an interview and changing before you enter the interview site)
    • No excessive jewelry; men should refrain from wearing earrings
    • No missing buttons, crooked ties or lint.

    You want your experience and qualifications to shine. Your appearance should enhance your presentation, not overwhelm it.

  

Sending a thank you letter is a simple matter of courtesy. It is highly recommended to do. 

  • A day after your interview, a letter should be sent by email or dropped off in person to express your appreciation for the opportunity to present yourself.
  • Use the letter to express your continued interest in the position and company. Some details of things which impressed you are a nice way to personalize your letter and convey your interest.
  • Supply any additional information that was requested at the time of the visit or interview.
  • A hand-written thank you letter gives a nice touch, as well.

Letter of Inquiry of Application Status is a request of the status of your application.

  • Recap the history of your application including the date your application was forwarded to the company.
  • State why you need clarification of the status of your application.
  • Include thanks for their cooperation.

Letter of Acknowledgment When an offer is received, special attention should be given to the preparation of your response letter.

  • Upon receipt of an offer, prompt acknowledgment should be transmitted to the prospective employer.
  • Write to the person who wrote and/or interviewed you. Thank the person and show enthusiasm for the offer.
  • Concisely yet descriptively give some details about what has impressed you about the company and/or interview.
  • Notify the company of the date you expect to make your decision or that you will respond within their time limitations.