First Jump-Start workshop focuses on résumés and cover letters


Theresa Allen, Senior Human Resource Business Partner at Gannett in Des Moines, gave Greenlee students pointers on what employers are looking for on résumés and cover letters at then first Jump-Start Workshop last Thursday night at the first workshop of the Greenlee School’s Jump-Start Internship and Job series. Allen’s years of experience in human resources have brought her to many career and internship fairs and she shared with her advice on what and what not to include on materials you should always have on hand to leave with employers in these situations.

She recommends keeping cover letters short — anything more than four paragraphs is usually too much, she told students. Cover letters can tell employers a lot about how much effort applicants put into researching their business and positions they’re after. Using powerful words like promoted, oversaw and improved can be effective when preparing your cover letter, but only if you have relevant experiences to talk about for each. Her best advice: Be confident, but not misleading.

View Theresa Allen’s presentation on résumés and cover letters For résumés, she recommends sticking to the basics. Don’t use extreme colors or fonts — you need to make sure it can be read by anyone — and avoid adding a headshot. Only post two to five bullet points per position, and leave out achievements from high school. If you don’t have enough new experiences to bump your high school involvement, that’s something you should devote time to fixing in your remaining time at Iowa State.

She strongly recommends getting a LinkedIn profile and keeping that updated, and focusing on polishing your résumé, which you can upload to LinkedIn too.

A common mistake students make is following up too soon or too often. Only follow-up if there’s a reason to. Allen admits if someone calls her to ask if she got their résumé, she will say yes and hang up. Don’t hound the employer.

Madi Ott, junior in advertising, says the presentation was a good refresher on how to keep your skills updated and know what employers want to see from students.

Juli Probasco-Sowers, Greenlee’s Internship Coordinator, says she chose Allen for this workshop because of her experience in human resources. She admits that most employers have different opinions on what they like to see on résumés and cover letters.

“It’s really in the eye of the beholder,” Probasco-Sowers says.

This Wednesday Greenlee will host another Jump-Start Workshop on “Cracking the Etiquette Equation.” This workshop will feature Greenlee Lecturer Michael Wigton, who will answer questions about how to handle professional interactions when interviewing for an internship or job to prepare students for the Jump-Start Internship and Networking Fair on Tues., Feb 23.