This is Maddy, a liberal arts major, who has just graduated. She had many diverse experiences during her college years. She has been applying to various jobs and wants to know which resume cover letter combo would best fit each application. Luckily, she came to our offices and we were able to help her craft a resume and cover letter (letter of interest) best suited for each job type.
She has an array of experience, working with the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, the Hogar de Esperanza Orphanage, and IlliniMedia. Her teaching experience includes working at Centennial High school and Parkland college. She also has research experience: a senior honors thesis and an apprenticeship through the University of Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research.
That’s a lot of experience! Maddy can help employers see how her background fits their needs by emphasizing different elements of it for different positions.
The examples below demonstrate the same skills and experiences can be describe more intentionally for different types of positions.
Applying for positions using all the resources she has at hand.
Many of the jobs where liberal arts majors excel can be sorted into three rough job categories: “people,” “things,” and “ideas.”
The people-focused positions include customer/client services, education, recruiting, business development, learning and development, and many more. These positions require strong interpersonal and communication skills. While most jobs require some level of teamwork, “people” jobs focus on connecting with others inside or outside the organization. This draft of the resume-cover letter combo puts Maddie’s people-focused experiences at the top of the resume; these are the points she will connect to the employer’s needs at greater length in the cover letter.
The things-focused positions include event planning, social media, many roles within communications, nonprofit management, publishing, operations, and others. These types of positions may involve rich interaction with other people, but the focus is on working together to make something (an outreach strategy, a product, a service program) rather than on helping, teaching, persuading (as in the “people” positions). This version of the resume-cover letter combo focuses on Maddie’s communications experiences to emphasize her ability to organize, prioritize, and problem-solve, both independently and as part of a team.
The idea-focused positions include editing, writing, research, quality assurance, search engine optimization, and others than tend to require a lot of independent work. These positions need require people who work well independently and take initiative to solve problems, but know when to reach out to the team for support or answers. Maddie’s project experience is central to this version of her resume. Her cover letter will emphasize her research and relate her independent project-based activities to the needs of the position.