Resume and Cover Letter Advice

Since FPA U is a career development seminar program, I’ve researched a variety of job resources and tips throughout the summer. In addition to my research, I’ve also learned more by attending some of the FPA U seminars as well as assisting with the search for a new FPA U intern. Despite the fact that I have mostly focused on advice for people interested in pursuing careers in international affairs, I’ve learned some important tips that can apply to any job search.

For those who are currently applying for fall internships (or even jobs), below are some useful tips for preparing cover letters and resumes:

1) Personalize your cover letters and resumes.
While it might seem easier to send a standard cover letter and resume, it might hurt your chances of landing an internship or job. Make sure you personalize each document, especially your cover letter. One way to do so is by researching the organization and checking out their website. By personalizing your cover letter and resume, you’ll demonstrate your interest and be able to link your past work experience with the specific job opportunity. This can help you stand out against other applicants.

2) Have a second set of eyes look at your application.
Even though I am usually pretty good with double-checking emails/documents, I’ve made mistakes. Sometimes if you’ve worked on a document for awhile, you can overlook minor errors. Before you submit your application, have a friend or family member review your application. Friends and family members might also remind you of an accomplishment or point out a detail that could improve your application and possibly increase your chances of getting hired. While friends and family can be a great resource, the AU Career Center can also help you.

3) Submit your documents in PDF format.
I know this might seem like an odd piece of advice, but I highly recommend submitting your application in PDF documents. Although most people have Microsoft Word, you never know which version of Word they use. In order to ensure that the hiring manager can open your application, save your documents in PDF format.

4) Make sure your documents and application work!
It never hurts to send a test email to yourself, a friend or a family member. Not only should you make sure that the documents can open (and are the versions you intend to submit), but that the formatting is correct.

5) Reread your document to avoid spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
Even though it is always stressed to use spell check, you’d be surprised at how many people make basic mistakes in their application. And when I say spell check, do not solely rely on your computer application (it doesn’t always correct everything)! I once came across a resume where the applicant had a typo in their university name. Not only can this be embarrassing, but it might also hurt your chances of a hiring manager considering your application, especially in a competitive hiring process. Do your own personal spell check by reading it over. If you’re not a good speller, have a peer look over your work.

6) Always follow the application directions.
While you might think that including something extra with your application will help you stand out, it can potentially end up hurting your chances. If a hiring manager comes across an applicant that doesn’t follow basic directions, it is going to raise a red flag. Be sure to follow all of the directions properly.

Good luck to those who are currently applying or waiting to hear back about fall internships/jobs!

If you’re in New York City and are looking for an internship in the international relations field, apply for the FPA U Intern position: