Resume workshops teach students to play up their strengths

By Julia John

Translating your valuable experiences and qualifications onto a page that determines your career prospects can be daunting. But The Wildlife Society has students covered at its Annual Conference in Albuquerque with three resume and cover letter workshops, sponsored by the Western Section of TWS.

Kristina Hunt, career advisor for Humboldt State University’s wildlife, environmental science and management majors, passed on suggestions from hiring managers on how to create attractive wildlife resumes and compelling cover letters to maximize students’ chances of obtaining internships and jobs. She also explained how to carry her tips forward to sell one’s professional experience throughout one’s wildlife career.

“The resume is a marketing tool,” Hunt said. “Keep it relevant and readable. Think about visual impact, words and breaks for the eyes. Keep it as short and sweet as you can.”

She recommended drafting the resume using key language from the job announcement and choosing action verbs, like coordinated or managed, over weaker words, like worked.  She also told students to steer away from abbreviations, which could be confusing, and controversial terms or affiliations, which could turn off some hiring managers.

Hunt advised students to include pertinent special qualifications — spoken languages, outdoor experience, training and certification and wildlife techniques — and two or three strong references on the resume. She stressed the importance of getting another set of eyes to proofread the document.

To make your resume stand out from the tall stack of competition, Hunt said, “contact the hiring agent and ask them a few thoughtful questions about what they’re looking for, which shows them you’re genuinely interested.”

In the cover letter, she said, “show how who you are fits perfectly with who they are and give examples of how your accomplishments will translate to the job.”

The workshop provided attendees with resume and cover letter templates to work from. It also gave them guidance on online job hunting and interview preparations.

“It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a resume or took time to tweak it, so it’s good to have someone knowledgeable give me pointers,” said Jessica Giacomini, a graduate student in wildlife science at the University of Tennessee. “Hunt had some great interview tips that undergrads, graduate students or even professionals could benefit from. She did a good job talking about federal jobs, their application process and how it’s different from applying for graduate school or the private sector.”

The TWS Western Section hosted this workshop.

Julia John is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at jjohn@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article.

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