Preparing a Resume and Cover Letter for positions in Residence Life

Over the last few years I have seen a ton of resumes. I don’t work in HR … I work in Residence Life. Those familiar with Residence Life hiring know that you need to recruit tremendous numbers of para-professional staff. Hiring for positions like this is often a lot more demanding then other student, part-time positions on-campus. It often involves a carousel process, scenarios, testing and more. But that is for another post.

This post is about carving out a winning Residence Life or Student Housing resume and cover letter. Many students applying for para-professional Residence Life positions or Grad students applying for GA position don’t have a ton of experiences to pack into their resume and cover letter. Even new professionals can struggle to feel like they have enough concrete examples to validate their experiences.

The internet is backed with great advice from folks in HR on what to include and how to format your resume. However, I have compiled a few tips for those creating a cover letter and resume for positions in Residence Life and Student Housing. This is just one man’s opinion. Consider it along with the others you come across.

1) Don’t open your old resume that you used to apply for jobs in the mall as a starting point. Start from scratch. This is easier said then done … first think of accomplishments and experiences you would like to profile and create a master career management document listing all those accomplishments. This will also help later when preparing for interviews.

2) At each step in the development of your resume and cover letter think about what accomplishments, achievements, awards won, goals met that will separate you from the other applicants. Many applicants for Residence Life positions will have similar backgrounds. What have you done that is different, special, or better than the typical RA?

3) Have I said accomplishments enough? For each position be sure to spend less time explaining your duties – and more time explaining what you accomplished. Many jobs in Residence Life are similar from institution to institution – you don’t need to detail duties. I like to set-up each position on my resume like the guys from Manager Tools suggest [here].

4) Run your resume and cover letter by someone in Residence Life/Student Housing. It is best if you maintain a network of contacts that understand the field and are also familiar with your career. For me I typically run my resume and cover letter by 2 people minimum – my current supervisor and also by my friend Todd. Todd was my supervisor when I was an RA and is familiar with my entire career.

5) The Student Housing field in most areas is small, tight and many people know each other. Networking is essential because many hiring managers will be overwhelmed with applicants and will count on the people they know to recommend quality applicants.

Good luck in your search!


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