Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Resumes & Cover Letters

What questions might I have about writing my resume and cover letter?

How should I set up my resume?

Resumes are important for many jobs, but not all jobs.  Some jobs require an application rather than a resume, and for those jobs, you will not have to develop a resume. However, applications may ask for similar information as a resume would, so it is important to gather information for a resume no matter what kind of job you are seeking.  Consider gathering past employment information (employers, addresses, positions, dates, contact person phone numbers) as well as education background, other interests, hobbies, volunteer positions, and job-related memberships.

There are a variety of ways that you can set up your resume to catch the interest of an employer. Consult these websites for information:

Resume Writing Tips from BU Career Services

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)  provides a step by step resume writing guide.

I need extra help with my resume. Where should I go?

An vocational professional may be of assistance. There are professionals who are well-versed in developing resumes for people with disabilities at a variety of programs, from Mental/Behavioral Health employment programs, to Clubhouses, ACT programs, to state Vocational Rehabilitation.

Your local, free, America’s Job Center may have a workshop on resume writing, cover letters and job applications.  They may also have Employment Specialists available to help job seekers with these activities.

How do I write a cover letter?

The general wisdom when writing a cover letter is to use actual wording from the job description. The cover letter should describe why YOU are a good match for the specific job based on your interests, skills and any other factor that makes you the right person for the job. For example, if the job description says “must have excellent customer service skills”, you should comment in your cover letter on your customer service skills and where/how you have learned or practiced them, even if it was in a volunteer job or internship.

The cover letter shows that you care enough about that job and about that company to write a tailored letter, so avoid using a standard letter that does not refer to the specific company or organization you’re applying to. Whenever possible, find out who is hiring, and use his/her specific name and title in the heading.

The cover letter is also the place to start to show the company that you took the time to research them.  When possible, mention something that is important to the company or organization, such as their mission or their values.  Doing this may make you stand out amongst other cover letters as someone who took some time to get to know them and what they are about.  Use the internet to your advantage: it’s easy these days to research basic information about companies.

Is a cover letter really important?

A cover letter can be extremely important to the job search. Put another way, a cover letter is your chance to present yourself and what you have to offer an employer.  Convince the employer that they want to talk with you!  Many applications should have a cover letter; if you are filling out an electronic application, look for a method of attaching a letter.

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