Career Pathways

Resumes and cover letters


The key to writing an effective resume is to demonstrate as efficiently as possible that you have all of the skills needed to fulfill the company’s need. Most hiring managers are trying to answer the following three questions while reviewing your documents:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you do the job?
  3. Will you fit in?

Think of the resume and cover letter as your opportunity to answer these questions while showcasing your different skills and talents. Most media and communications organizations are looking for people with the following skills.

  • Curiosity
  • Ambition
  • Collaboration
  • Life experience
  • Portfolio
  • Unique point-of-view and can handle and appreciate the viewpoints other than your own
  • Creative hybrid with an area of focus
  • Can lead and follow
  • Handle uncertainty
  • Always learning and inspiring others
  • Technical skills
  • Pitching skills

When it comes to choosing a format, some organizations may be more tolerant of design-heavy resumes that use color, graphics, or otherwise veer from the traditional one-page resume. It would seem logical that a creative job needs a creative resume. This is not accurate. Most hiring managers are interested in quality content than an over designed document. Keep it simple and save your creative chops for your portfolio.

Start with the basics
Use the resume creator in HireVCURams to start building a basic resume. Follow our HireVCURams Resume Creator to access the feature in HireVCURams. Check out our Resume Guide [PDF] for general advice or explore the following examples.

Journalist Resume Sample [PDF]

Public Relations Resume[PDF]

Think like a recruiter

If you want to communicate well, think like a recruiter. A recruiter will spend roughly six seconds looking at your resume. During that six-second scan, they will search for the following:

Recruiter’s Resume Check List

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Portfolio URL
  • LinkedIn
  • Degree
  • Is there a body of work with creativity?
  • Does it have quantifiable content to forward to the appropriate hiring manager?
  • Do they have an ideation, design and client-centric process to understand a brand’s voice?
  • Do they have an awareness of industry and design, web, mobile, UX, UI trends?
  • Are they someone I would want to work with?
  • Do they have collaboration skills and social grace to work with clients?
  • Is there a story I can remember about this person?

Customize your resume

No two jobs are ever exactly alike. There will always be nuances that differentiate one job, company or opportunity for another. With that in mind, no two resumes should ever be exactly the same. When applying for an opportunity it’s imperative that you tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying.

Look for key words

Every job description contains key words related the job duties or required skills. As a recruiter or hiring manager scans your resume, they’re going to be looking for those key words. When applying to an opportunity, be sure to tailor your resume to include relevant key words from the job posting.

Keep it simple

Avoid jargon or convoluted language. A resume is not the place to demonstrate your personality. It’s a written recorded of what you have done as a professional. Use your cover letter to show your personality and your portfolio to demonstrate your creativity.

Back up what you say with facts

Would you describe yourself is creative? Analytical? Hard working? You might be all of those things, but anyone can say that about themselves. You have to prove it. Back up your resume with data. Do your social media campaigns increase sales? By how much? Did the story you wrote get published? Excellent, how many people read it? Hard numbers are much more effective than self-praise at convincing someone to hire you.

Be honest

We live in a connected world, both online and in person. The media and communications world is tight knit. So it’s easy to verify where you worked or what project you were involved in. Always be honest about your work. Never take credit for or someone else’s work or overstate your involvement with a project. You will be discovered if you stretch the truth.

Proofread. Better yet, have a professional do it.

Most people are terrible editors of their own work. Having someone else look over your resume helps you catch errors and avoids embarrassing mistakes. Ideally, have someone who works in the industry critique your resume to gain insights or avoid potential pitfalls. Make an appointment with a career adviser to have your resume reviewed.

Cover letters

Your cover is meant to achieve two goals: to demonstrate your genuine interest in the position and to explain why you are the MOST qualified person for the job. It’s tempting to fill your cover letter with clichés about work, commitment, etc. This will not help you set yourself apart. Instead, use your personality and tell your own story – honestly. Be specific about your skills and show them in action. Follow these general rules for writing a good cover letter or review our Cover Letter Guidefor the basics.

  • Keep the cover letter short (less than one page) and written in the tone of the organization
  • Tell the organization why their mission connects with the work you hope to do
  • Explain why you are the right person for the job and support it by discussing why you have some of the skills listed in the position description
  • Offer contact information and outline a plan to follow up (if able)
  • If you are sending your files digitally to an employer, make sure to include your name and the words “cover letter” in the file name, it will make it easy for employers to locate your file (i.e. Last Name, First Name Cover Letter)