Effective resumes and cover letters

effective job application cover letters and effective cover letters for resumes
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Published Date:02-07-2017
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The Resume A guide to writing effective resumes and cover lettersIntroduction The MCCC Office of Career Services is pleased to provide job search assistance to students and alumni of Mercer County Community College. Among the support services offered to the job seeker are workshops and materi- als related to preparation of the resume. This publication is primarily for use by individuals seeking entry level jobs, with little or no experience in the particular field to which they are applying. The helpful hints and sample resumes and cover letters illustrate the common formats used and will help improve the quality of your resume. Remember, the purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. A good resume... • Is about the job hunter – not about the job hunter’s history. • Focuses on the future – not the past. • Focuses on achievements or accomplishments – not on job descriptions. • Documents and prioritizes skills the job hunter enjoys using – not abilities they used in the past just because they had to. Mercer County Community College Enrollment and Student Services Office of Career Services Student Center, Room 229 609-586-4800 ext. 3397 www.mccc.edu/student_services-counseling_career.shtml The Resume Content contributions courtesy of County College of Morris, Office of Car eer Services and Cooperative Education.Things to Remember Before You Start Think of your resume like an advertising copywriter thinks about an advertise- ment. You are promoting something – You Ask yourself, “How can I catch the attention of the reader to make myself stand out from every other candidate?” Create a desire for the employer to invite you in for an interview by proving your ability to meet their needs and showing them how you produce results. Zero in on what the employer needs, not what you want. Position your strongest selling points on the top half of the first page. Don’t hide them at the end. Consider these steps as you prepare your resume: • What kind of job are you looking for? Every word you put on your resume should somehow be relevant to that job. • Brainstorm and make a list of the skills, knowledge, and experience you have and are needed for the desired job. • For each skill you list, think of accomplishments that illustrate the skill and describe each accomplishment in terms of how it benefited the employer . • Make a list of all the jobs you’ve had. Include internships, volunteer work, part-time work, and school or community activities. • Make another list of your training and education related to the job. • Create multiple resumes for multiple job targets. One resume doesn’t fit all jobs. Choose a Resume Format That Fits Your Situation Chronological This style focuses on where and when you’ve worked, beginning with your most recent employment, and goes backward in reverse chronological order. It works best for individuals with consistent work histories with no gaps. It also works well for those who have had increasing responsibility and who are advancing in the same field. Many employers prefer this format. Functional This style focuses on the job functions you have performed rather than where and when you performed them. The functional resume is especially useful for those who have had several jobs, have gaps in their work history, are changing careers, or are re-entering the job market. Employers are sometimes suspicious of this format, thinking the candidate is trying to hide employment gaps or something worse. It is also more difficult to write. Combination Providing your job functions at the top and your job history in a list at the bot- tom of the resume is known as the combination format. This style may benefit individuals whose situations are similar to the functional resume writers. What to Include in Your Resume (Regardless of the Format You Choose) Contact Information At the top of the page, include your proper name, current address with zip code, phone number with area code where you can be reached from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and e-mail address (which is appropriate for any serious job seeker) if you have one. Make it as easy as possible for employers to contact you. Your name should be in a size 14 font in bold to make it stand out. The rest of your resume should preferably be in a size 12 font, using Times New Roman, Arial or Courier fonts. Job Objective Some people prefer to include their objective in a summary statement. Most people find that including an objective helps them give focus to their resume. Put the objective after the contact information. For the objective to be effective, it needs to include: the specific kind of work you want to do, the industry in which you want to do it, the level at which you want to work (e.g., entry), and the benefit you bring to the employer. Example: A store manager position for a leader in the men’s clothing industry where my experience in retail and business education will be an asset. Qualifications Summary Most current resumes include either a bulleted or paragraph summary of the job candidate’s key selling points. It is accomplishment-oriented and includes many key words in the target job category. A typical group of highlights includes: • How much relevant experience you have in the targeted field • What your formal training and credentials are, if relevant • One significant accomplishment, very broadly stated • One or two outstanding skills or abilities relevant to the field • A reference to your values, commitment, or philosophy if appropriate Example: (of a summary with a corresponding job objective) Objective: Position as an account clerk in a business that can use my recently acquired cutting-edge skills. Qualifications Summary • Internship experience using newest accounting computer programs • A.A.S. degree with honors in accounting • President of student accounting club – initiated speakers program • Demonstrated ability in organizing, follow-through to the last detail • Committed to producing results above and beyond what’s expected Education Most recent college graduates put their education before their experience be- cause that is often more relevant to their job target. If it isn’t, put your experi- ence first. List the degree you are pursuing or have earned, the institution you are attending with the city and state, and your graduation date. Include your GPA if it is higher than 3.0, and any academic honors. It is also a good idea to list relevant courses if you have no experience in the field, so employers can ascer - tain your knowledge in the field. You may also want to describe any research or design projects. List other degrees or relevant education in reverse chronological order. Rarely is any reference to high school needed. Example: A.A.S. Accounting, Mercer County Community College, West Windsor, NJ, May 2005 GPA 3.2, Dean’s List Spring 2004 Relevant Coursework Principles of Financial Accounting Introduction to Business Principles of Managerial Accounting Intermediate Accounting I and II Computerized Accounting Cost Accounting Microeconomics Business Law (If you haven’t completed your degree, insert something like the word “candi- date” before the degree and include your anticipated graduation date.) Experience In a chronological resume, begin with your current/most recent position and work backward, chronologically. Include part-time work and unpaid work such as internships and volunteer work. Start each position with a job title, follow with name of organization, city and state, and years (months not necessary) employed there. Use action words to describe responsibilities and accomplishments. Example: Telecommunications Aide, Comcast, Neptune, NJ 2002-present Describe each position, stressing the major accomplishments and responsibilities that demonstrate your competency. Don’t include all responsibilities; some are assumed by employers. Start each phrase with an action word. Tailor your descrip- tions to your job target. Do not repeat skills that are common to several positions. Most recent college graduates can include all necessary information in one page. If you are preparing a two-page resume, include your name at the top of the second page and make sure the most marketable information appears at the top half of the first page. You can also divide your experience into relevant and ad - ditional experience, rather than one reverse chronological list. Special Skills If you think these could add to your qualifications, identify computer skills, technical skills, knowledge of foreign languages, and special training at the bot- tom of your resume. References Do not list your references on your resume. You may say “References available upon request,” but it is not necessary. Prepare a separate list with names, titles, addresses and phone numbers of individuals who have agreed to provide refer- ence information. You should also specify what relationship you had/have with them (e.g., co-worker, supervisor, clergy person, professor). Resume Do’s and Don’ts Do... • Proofread, have a friend proofread, then proofread again. • Be clear, concise, specific and honest. Never lie on a resume. • Print on quality white or off-white paper using a laser printer. • Make your resume visually appealing and easy to read. • Remember, your resume is a marketing tool. It reflects what you have to offer. • Try to fit your resume on one page, or two pages if you’ve had more than 10 years of work experience. Don’t... • Specify salary requirements or reveal salary history. • Write long paragraphs or sentences. • Exaggerate your accomplishments. • Forget the purpose of the resume: to get an interview. • Use resume templates if you want an unusual format. • Include personal information such as age, religion, ethnic background, marital status, height and weight. Action Words for Resumes The following “action” words can be used as the first word of sente nce fragments in your resume. Always begin your statements with an action word that describes a certain skill or ability you possess. A thesaurus can be a helpful tool in this process accelerated accomplished achieved adapted administered analyzed approved completed conceived conducted conferred constructed contracted controlled converted coordinated created cut delegated delivered demonstrated designed developed devised directed doubled drafted edited effected eliminated enlarged equipped established evaluated exhibited expanded expedited formulated generated guided helped implemented improved increased influenced initiated installed interpreted invented launched lectured maintained managed motivated negotiated operated organized originated participated performed pinpointed planned prepared produced promoted programmed proved proposed recommended provided reduced recorded researched reinforced revamped reviewed revised scheduled set up sold simplified streamlined solved succeeded structured supervised supported taught trained translated trimmed tripled uncovered unraveled widened wrote How to Prepare a Resume for E-mailing and Computer Scanning Due to the greater number of job openings and job candidates along with smaller Hu- man Resource staffs, most large organizations use computers rather than humans to accept, process, store and review resumes. This means that most job seekers need to have two versions of “computer friendly” resumes in addition to a paper one. Conse- quently, new formats are needed that will enable the computer to scan your resume in a readable format. The scannable resume can be mailed to the employer. The electron- ic or e-mail resume is sent as an e-mail message, or attachment, to the employer. Scannable Resumes • Use standard typefaces such as Arial, Times Roman, or Courier New in font size 10 to 12 points. • Avoid italics, script, bold, and underlining. Instead, use capital letters for highlighting. • Eliminate graphics, borders, boxes, and shading. Do not use horizontal or vertical lines. • Use asterisks or plain round bullets. • Print on white or off-white paper from a laser printer, which delivers the most contrast. • Do not fold or staple your resume. Mail in a large envelope. • Keep text left-justified, with a ragged right margin. • Position your name, and nothing else, on the top line of the resume. Resumes for E-mailing Many employers will not accept attachments due to the possibility of viruses. Send your resume as an e-mail message with your cover letter as part of the document. To avoid formatting problems, you will need to create a new version of your resume by following these steps: • With your typed resume on the screen in your word processing program, change the left margin to 1.0 and the right margin to 2.0, then select the Save As feature and click on “text only,” “plain text” or ASCII. Rename file. • Close the file and then open the text editor program in your computer , such as Notepad, and review how the resume will look to the employer. You’ll see that your resume has been reformatted and the text is left-justified. You’ll need to do some cleaning up of the new version. • Fix any glitches. Set off category headings by using ALL CAPS. • Save your changes in Notepad. Do a test run; send an e-mail to yourself by se- lecting and copying your e-resume, then open your e-mail program and type a brief cover letter. Two lines below that, press Ctrl + v to paste in your e-resume. When e-mailing, you want to motivate employers to open your e-mail and read your resume. Put in the Subject area of your e-mail something like “Award-win- ning Web designer, 6 years exp.” more than the words “job seeker.” ASCII Resume Example Your Name Your Town, State Zip Your Phone E-mail = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = OBJECTIVE Administrative Assistant position in the Marketing Department at Best Foods, Inc. SKILLS • Computer: Windows NT/XP; Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Publisher and • Outlook; HTML, Dreamweaver, Internet • Type 65 wpm • Language: Bilingual in Spanish and English EDUCATION A.A.S., Office Systems Technology Mercer County Community College, West Windsor, NJ Date of Graduation: May 2003 GPA: 3.5/4.0 PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE CLERICAL ASSISTANT Hamilton Town Accountants, Hamilton, NJ Oct. 1999 to Present • Manage all records for 10 Accountants • Created new filing system improving efficiency • Utilize Excel spreadsheets to store client information • Set client appointments, answer questions in person and over the telephone DATA ENTRY OPERATOR Fleet Bank, Fair Lawn, NJ Sept. 1998 to Oct. 1999 • Entered invoices, checks and payments The Cover Letter You should include a cover letter with every resume or application you send. Your cover letter is really a sales letter that tells the target employer why hiring you would be beneficial to him or her. It calls attention to your resume, in which you outline in detail what you can do for the employer. Go the extra mile to find a specific name to whom you address your letter. As in any business letter, the cover letter contains three main parts: the introduc- tion, the body, and the closing. Begin by addressing your reader’s needs rather than describing your own. The introductory paragraph needs to announce the purpose of the letter your intent to apply for a particular job opening that you saw in an ad or heard about and it should give the reader a compelling reason to read on. Use a strong opening statement that grabs the reader’s attention. If a mutual friend told you about the job, use his or her name as an introduction as long as you have their permission to do so. Do research on the company and demonstrate your initiative and knowl- edge by working in a fact about the company that isn’t common knowledge. The middle paragraph explains why you think you are qualified for the job and, more importantly, what you can offer to the company. Explain briefly your current situation and why the position you are writing about interests you. Expand upon one or two points from your resume. Make reference to the job description and tell the reader directly what specific qualities you can bring to the job . Only if a want ad requests salary history or requirements should you include that information. The closing paragraph specifies the desired next action. You can either tell the reader that you will call them, or you can ask them to call you to set up a meet- ing. Be sure to provide a way for them to reach you easily during business hours. Some other important points: • Compose the letter in business letter format: your address, date, their ad- dress, colon after salutation, leave space to sign letter, type name under signature, type the word Enclosure at the bottom if you enclose your resume. • Preferably address your letter to the hiring manager of the department to which you are applying. Ask Human Resources for the correct spelling. • Focus your letter on the employer’s self-interest. • Limit the letter to one page and use the same high-quality paper and printer you used for your resume. Address job qualifications listed in the ad. • Tailor each letter to a specific job and learn all you can about the employer. • Write confidently, without bragging or flattering. Be positive and direct. • PROOFREAD Have someone else look at the letter. No mistakes allowed. • Don’t forget to sign the letter. Omitting anything so simple is a sign of care- lessness. Sample Cover Letter Glen M. Doherty 645 Franklin Square Hamilton, NJ 08690 April 8, 2005 Patrick Barnett Director of Operations RH Company Inc. 1400 Prospect Blvd. Ewing, NJ 08660 Dear Mr. Barnett: As assistant manager of customer service at a local supermarket, I have devel- oped techniques for selling that I believe will interest you. That is why I am writing in response to your ad in the Trenton Times for a customer service man- ager. At a time when the economy is so unstable, I am sure RH Company would benefit from my background and experience. I indicated on the enclosed resume that I will graduate with a GPA of 3.7 in Mar- keting and am anxious to put my knowledge and skills to work. In my present employment, I have gone about as far as I can go and am looking for a position with increased responsibility. Since an expansion in sales is what you need, I have a proven track record with boosting sales by 40 percent in one year. Also, I have other revenue generating ideas that I would like to discuss with you. I paid for my college education while working part time. I am not afraid of hard work to get a job done. I will call you during the week of April 14 to learn when a meeting can be arranged. Should you want to talk to me before that, I can be reached at 609-587-2094. Sincerely, Glen Doherty Enclosure Sample Cover Letter Michelle Brooks 19 Forest Blend Lane Mercerville, NJ 08722 609-566-4097 September 27, 2005 Ms. Dorothy Ramano Head, Medical Laboratory St. Johns Medical Center Cranbury, NJ 08844 Dear Ms. Ramano: The description of the medical lab technician position related to me by my friend and your colleague, Laura Birch, sounds like an opportunity where I could make some significant contributions. Laura explained that you expect top-quality work and have the highest standards she has observed anywhere. Since you need someone to step in right away, you wouldn’t need to spend any great amount of time training me because I have a good grasp of the subject. In addition I wanted to assure you that: • In my coursework at Mercer County Community College I maintained a 4.0 GPA • On the certification exam given by the American Society for Clinical Pathologists I scored in the above 90th percentile. • I had a medical lab internship at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. • I participated in over 720 hours of clinical practice as part of my course work. St. John’s Medical Center is one of the finest hospitals in the region. I am pre - pared to work at the high standards you ask for. I would like to meet with you soon to discuss some of the ideas I can bring to this job. I can be reached at the above number during normal business hours. Sincerely, Michelle Brooks Enclosure 0 Sample Resumes Photographer Resume – Chronological FIRST NAME LAST NAME Street Address City, State Zip (Area Code) Phone Number E-mail Address OBJECTIVE To obtain a photography position in a corporate environment. RELATED SKILLS • Darkroom Equipment and Processing • Enlarger- Omega, Bessler, black and white prints • Film developing, matting prints, color negative printing, spot tone prints Camera Computer Large format Adobe Photoshop Medium format Adobe Image Ready SLR 35mm (manual) EDUCATION A.F.A., Visual Arts/ Photography, 2003 Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ GPA 3.5, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society KEY COURSES Photography I and II Color Photography I and II Professional Lighting Large Format Photography Portfolio Preparation Equipment, Materials & Processes History of Photography Electronic Photographic Imaging RELATED EXPERIENCE (Intern) Photographer Assistant Four Star Studio E. Windsor, NJ Jan. - May 2003 • Loaded and pulled film. • Set up lighting on sets. • Set up and tore down sets on location shoots. Wedding Photographer Assistant 2001-2003 ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE Print Shop Assistant MCCC Trenton, NJ 2002-2003 • Hot glue, NCR glue, cutting machine, folding. REFERENCES Available upon request Electronics Engineer Resume – Chronological FIRST NAME LAST NAME Street Address City, State Zip (Area Code) Phone Number E-mail Address OBJECTIVE To obtain a position in the field of telecommunications and electronics in a company that can benefit from my technical skills and experience. TECHNICAL SKILLS Knowledge of computer systems and programs including DOS, Windows XP, Novell, Excel, Word, UNIX, Powerbasic, and C Language. Basic electronic skills include soldering, multi-meter oscilloscope, and breadboard use. Knowledge of basic logic gates and other digital components. Worked along with the 8085 microprocessor to learn basic sequential logic design, microprocessor architecture, and machine level programming. EDUCATION A.A.S., Electronics Engineering Technology, 2003 Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ Certificate, Electronics Technology, 2000 Sussex County Technical School, Sparta, NJ National Honor Society Second Place, State VICA Competition KEY COURSES • Local Area Networks Electricity and Electronics • Advanced Digital and Microprocessors • Technical Computer Programming • Digital Principles • Technical Computer Applications • Data Communications RELATED EXPERIENCE Process Technician Lucent Technologies, Princeton, NJ Spring 2003 • Involved with all forms of production of a cellular phone base station. • Basic assembly, testing of products, and troubleshooting of failed products ADDITIONAL EMPLOYMENT Recruiter Commtech Employment Services, Hightstown, NJ 9/01- Present • Responsible for recruiting a technical range of candidates for permanent job placements • Reviewed candidates. Sales Associate Hidden Valley Ski Resort, Vernon, NJ Seasonal 1997- 2001 • Responsible for ski and snowboard rentals and sales. Graphic Designer Resume – Functional FIRST NAME LAST NAME Street Address City, State Zip (Area Code) Phone Number E-mail Address OBJECTIVE To obtain a position as a graphic designer for an in-house art department or an advertis- ing firm. Specifically interested in page and cover design, logo design, an d packaging. COMPUTER SKILLS TECHNICAL SKILLS Proficient use of Macintosh utilizing Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and QuarkXPress with strong design skills Mechanical Ad Layout Production 35 mm camera using 28-200mm lens EDUCATION Candidate, A.A.S., Computer Graphics, May 2005 Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ Current GPA 3.70, Academic Dean’s List COURSEWORK Advertising Layout Production Commercial Illustration Color and Design Computer Graphics Graphic Design I & II Typography I & II Electronic Prepress Photography I & II Drawing I & II Computer-Assisted Page and Cover Design Marketing DESIGN EXPERIENCE • Brochure for F&M Landscape Design, 2003 • Company logo for Yes and Know Entertainment, 2003 • Logo for MCCC Middle States Self-Study, 2003 • Business card, envelope, & letterhead for Rocky Reed Express, 2002 HONORS / AWARDS First place, MCCC Logo Competition, 2003. Awarded Graphic Design Scholarship, 2002. Member, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. INTERNSHIP Graphic Design Intern, Spring 2003 Temel Communication Design, Inc., Boonton, NJ Experience included design, revisions, research, scanning, setting text, and cutting, pasting, and assembling comps. Assisted with projects for ADP, Ricoh, and Environ. EMPLOYMENT Waitress Outback, Wayne, NJ, 2001-present Computer Resume – Chronological Your Name Street Address Town, zip code Phone e-mail OBJECTIVE: To obtain a challenging position in the computer field where a company can use my recent computer training SKILLS: Software: MS-DOS 6.2, Norton Anti-virus, Novel, Netware4,NT Worksta- tion/Server 4.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 2000 and XP, Windows NT, Win- dows Explorer and Internet Explorer Hardware: Scanners, hard drives, floppy drives, CD-ROMs, modems, Pen - tium motherboards, monitors, keyboards, partitioning, formatting, assemble workstation. Log on scripts, security users and groups, and I/O Controllers, A+ pending. EDUCATION: Mercer County Community College Trenton, NJ A.A.S. Information Technology, Computer Systems and Network Administration, May 2004 APEX Technical School New York, NY Certificate in PC repair and Network Administration 1999 RELEVANT COURSES: Basic Computer Hardware/Software PC Services and Support Data Communications Networking Essentials Netware LAN Administration Management of Computer Technology EXPERIENCE PC Technician Bradstone Repairs Allentown 2000-2004 • Installed and configured software • Troubleshot computer user problems • Staffed Help Desk – answered questions Forklift Driver Alliant Technology Cranbury 1996-1999 • Troubleshot and repaired forklift using micrometers and calibration equipment • Accurate and efficient distribution of materials Hotel Restaurant Management Resume – Combination YOUR NAME Your Street Address Your Town, State Zip Your Phone E-mail Objective: Management position with a large hotel banquet facility. HIGHLIGHTS OF QUALIFICATIONS • Excellent organizational ability • Great staff motivator • Strong management skills under deadline pressure • Talented problem-solver • Skilled in creating rapport with clients • Self-starter Certification: FDA Food Protection and Safety RELEVANT EXPERIENCE Management • Supervise wait staff of 20 during day and evening shifts • Hire and train new employees • Coordinate schedules for all workers Inventory Control • Manage food and restaurant supply inventory • Order supplies as needed • Negotiate contracts and special orders with suppliers Customer Service • Assist individual and corporate clients with party and banquet planning • Direct all activities during events • Coordinate banquet room set up and break down • Develop and implement marketing and public relations strategies to increase sales • Organize special events, including: Taste of Ireland, Monday Munchies, Wednesday Wings (weekly); WKGO Radio’s Live Band Bash, Com- munity High School’s Alcohol-Free Dinner and Dance (monthly); Sharp Electronics Corporate Open House, General Hospital’s Charity Luncheon, United Way. EMPLOYMENT HISTORY 2000-present Manager O’Malley’s Restaurant-Mercerville 1997-1999 Assistant Manager Scarpini Italian Restaurant-Princeton EDUCATION A.A.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management, Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ, December 2004 Business Management Resume – Chronological YOUR NAME Your Street Address Your Town, State Zip Your Phone E-mail OBJECTIVE: A co-op position in the field of business management. SKILLS: • Five years work experience • Honor student in Business • Computer skills: Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Peachtree for Windows EDUCATION: Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ A.A.S., Business Management Anticipated date of graduation: 5/06 RELEVANT COURSES: • Introduction to Business • Principles of Business Management • Financial Accounting WORK EXPERIENCE: Administrative Assistant Lee Miles Transmissions, Cranbury, NJ 1/01 to present • Answer customer questions concerning billing, scheduling and repairing of vehicles • Enter information into computer, generate reports • Update spreadsheet applications • Fax documents and e-mails Sales Associate Macy’s Department Store, Lawrenceville, NJ 3/99 to 1/01 • Greeted customers and determined specific needs • Assisted customers in purchasing various types of merchandise • Explained operation of electronics and their warranties • Maintained detailed paperwork for retail sales inventory ACTIVITIES: Assistant Coach for Hamilton Youth Soccer League Member of Mercer County Community College Soccer Team REFERENCES: Available upon request. Media Resume Chronological YOUR NAME Your Street Address Your Town, State Zip Your Phone E-mail OBJECTIVE To obtain an internship position in the field of broadcasting SKILLS • Excellent communication skills, outgoing personality • Good technical production knowledge • Fluent in Spanish • Windows XP, Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, and Access MEDIA ACTIVITIES • Compiled and read news and weather on Mayhem in the AM, radio broadcast live from MCCC • Worked on Mercer Outlook, a live television show produced and operated by students from MCCC EDUCATION Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ A.A.S. Radio/TV, in progress GPA: 3.4 RELEVANT COURSES Mass Media of Communication Television Production I, II Speech Communication Radio Production Directing for Television WORK EXPERIENCE Home Depot, Hamilton NJ Sales Associate 2000-Present • Coordinate and instruct product knowledge classes for associates • Provide customer service • Prepare and organize invoices for special orders • Create visual displays and maintain selling floor • Maintain full stock of inventory to meet sales projections REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST