Business Communications

Résumé tips for the new (or soon to be) graduate

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It seems unfair but, after years of hard work slaving over the books and suffering through lectures, labs and exams, the new grad then has the onerous task of finding a job so that s/he can join the workforce.  This can be an especially discouraging endeavour if the job market is highly competitive in your chosen field.  Since nobody gets a job without an interview, and most potential employers decide who to interview based solely on the résumés and cover letters they receive, it pays to do a really super job on both of these documents.  My experience has always been that everyone thinks that their résumé and cover letter are both already awesome (and it’s usually not).  Nobody ever seems to think that a weak resume or cover letter could be the reason why they’re not getting calls and interviews. However, chances are, that is at least part of the problem.   Read the rest of this entry »

How to request an academic reference

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Most students need an academic reference sooner or later.  Perhaps you are applying for a job or a scholarship – or maybe you are trying to get into a graduate program?  Maybe you’re applying for professional certification or registration as a licensed professional; whatever the reason, getting an academic reference can be notoriously frustrating, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while.  Most professors dislike doing them, primarily because they’re time consuming and it can be quite frustrating trying to come up with sufficient information to do them well.  As a result, it’s not uncommon for professors to procrastinate on these, or to avoid them completely.  If you’re a student seeking an academic reference, my advice is to make it as easy as possible for the professor to do it quickly and effectively.  To help you do this, here below are some tips for getting a high quality academic reference.  Many of these tips also apply when requesting other types of references.

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Preparing an effective job-seeking cover letter…

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(Note – you might also want to check out my related post of tips for preparing your resume.)

I often get asked to provide advice and feedback for engineering students (BSc, MSc and PhD) applying for jobs and though the application contents can vary widely, especially between industry and academia, one thing that all employers have in common is the requirement for a cover letter. It’s probably the most important part of the application package, yet it seems to be the part most people do poorly. In this post, I’ll try to help you out by presenting some of the tips I generally suggest to my own students based on: a) what I’ve learned from others, b) what has worked for me when I’ve applied for jobs, and c) what I like to see when I am looking to hire someone.   Read the rest of this entry »