PRepster of the Month: Jason Mollica on Cover Letters & Resumes

January 21, 2010 at 10:14 am 3 comments

Jason has had the fortune of wearing many hats over his career.  He has worked in television at places like NBC10 and Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia, Pa., where he was nominated for an Emmy.  In 2001, he joined Fox News Channel in New York and was part of the team that launched Fox News Radio in 2003.  Seeking a new challenge, Jason entered the public relations and marketing profession.  He currently works as the public relations manager at Carr Marketing Communications in Amherst, N.Y. In 2009, he launched One Guy’s Journey, his blog about life, career, and everything in between. You can also find him adding value to the online PR community on twitter @JasMollica.

Over the years, I have reviewed more than a few cover letters and resumes. I have also written my share as well.  For those reading this, you have probably been told that a good resume will help you get in the door.  This is true.  But if the cover letter does not stand out, your resume may not even be seen. And if a prospective employer does get past the cover letter, you want to make sure the resume is done right.

With a big thanks to Mikinzie for letting me write a guest blog, I wanted to offer a few tips to help you make your cover letter and resume the best it can be.

The Cover Letter

  1. Give them a reason to be intrigued- The first line of the cover letter is important.  When I was recently searching for a new job, the firm I applied to was on Twitter and Facebook as well as having their own blog.  I read each and mentioned this in my cover letter.  I got an e-mail back saying that it was the first time they had a prospective employee from social media. 
  2. Play to your strengths- Whether you are just out of college or a seasoned pro, make sure the person reading it can’t put your letter down.  If you are a student, put your most impressive achievements in.  Awards that stand out will be a key.
  3. Why are you a fit? Be confident, not cocky.  Are you reliable? Say so.  Tell them that you are passionate and enthusiastic as well.  They aren’t looking for lazy and boring, right?

The Resume

Now that they have read your cover letter and liked it, the resume is going to get you the call for an interview.  You can go one of two ways with your resume.  You can use clear, concise bullets and pick out three items to describe what you did in that college position, or can use short paragraphs. In any case, make sure to highlight these items.

  1. Internships- Mention it in the cover letter and then again in the resume.  You want to make this a highlight because (for some) this may be your only experience.  Did you help with the firm’s social media? Stress that you managed the Twitter account and updated Facebook when necessary.
  2. Work study, freelancing- For those that have extensive college work study or freelancing experience, give examples of what you wrote and for whom.  If you wrote for the college newsletter or alumni magazine, include how you helped get the article together.
  3. Blogs- When I first started out, blogs weren’t popular.  Now, there are great ones like The PRepguide.  If you can safely say that you would have no problem with an employer looking at it, get it in the resume.
  4. References­- Most people put “Available upon request” on their resumes.  A good idea is to have three people lined up anyways.  Cover your bases, that way when a prospective employer asks, you can send this to them right away.
  5. Portfolio- Make certain you keep EVERYTHING that you have done.  Whether it is an article, blog or PR or marketing project for class, you can put it together to make your work much more impressive.

One last item is something that I can’t stress enough. Make sure that everything is spelled correctly and you are using proper style. Many firms/professionals use AP style.  If you don’t know AP style, learn it… NOW.  If you don’t own the AP Stylebook, go to your campus bookstore or Amazon.com and buy it.  I still use it to make sure I’m using the right form.

A quick example, do not capitalize what should not be capitalized (it’s not Public Relations Manager, it is public relations manager).  Show your prospective employer that you understand one of the most fundamental aspects of public relations by proofreading everything before e-mailing or snail mailing your materials.

If I can be of assistance to you, please feel free to send your resume and cover letter to me at jasmollica@hotmail.com.  I would be happy to look them over for you.

I hope these tips help you to get that first job.  Good luck!!

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New at PRepGuide: Tips ‘n Tidbits Tip of the Day: Jan. 24

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lmnovo  |  January 21, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Those are great tips, Jason! I especially like the one about using AP style throughout the resume. It makes total sense and yet it is something that would easily be overlooked in the resume context. I’m going to make sure my dates of employment and job titles are all correctly formatted now. Thanks!

    Reply
  • 2. jasmollica  |  January 21, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Thanks Lauren! I’ve seen some cover letters and resumes that are great, but have style errors and spelling mistakes. When you are ready to send your materials, have someone look it over. Sometimes, we miss our own mistakes, but someone else will pick it.
    Best,
    Jason

    Reply
  • 3. Ryan  |  January 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Great tips Jason, I’ll have to remember that so when I update mine I can send it over to you for you to peruse it.

    And congrats on PRepster of the month!

    Reply

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