10 Takeaways from Resume Building Workshop with Kevin Cowl

By Samah Mohamed 

Kevin Cowl’s lecture offered “unspoken tips” to helpe bridge the perception gap between employers and students.

Together with George Mason University’s Egyptian Student Association, ABPA hosted Kevin Cowl, the Vice President for Development at the Middle East Institute, a top think-tank in Washington, DC. Mason students received one-on-one resume feedback from Mr. Cowl who offered valuable insights during his lecture.

Here are some of his tips:

  1. Not to think of yourself as a student any longer.

You are a young professional now because “nobody cares about your education after you have gotten your first job”, Mr. Cowl began.

  1. Experience, not Education level, should be put at the top of your resume.

You must sell your experience because that is what matters to the employer.

  1. Take the cover letter seriously.

Do not waste your chance by putting empty, cold sentences. Tell a story to get the employer’s attention. Your cover letter is an opportunity to prove that you know how to write and communicate effectively.

  1. A resume needs to be structured and outlined.

If crafting a cover letter is an art of story-telling, crafting a good, structured, error-free resume is proof of your professional work ethic.

  1. Do not flatter the employer and do not bore them either.

Have a good flow of your narrative, and stay focused to address why and what you want in the cover letter.

  1. State where you plan to go in the end/your field and career wise.

Make a connection in the first paragraph about your goal, and the opportunity you see in the position’s description. You will notice how your narrative quickly evolves to change in the positive direction.

  1. Make the font and design of both your resume and cover letter the same.

This gives a personal branding and design impression, and looks more professional.

  1. The tone in your cover letter should be friendly and professional.

A conversational, friendly tone in the cover letter before the interview, helps give you a higher chance of employment acceptance.

  1. Never exaggerate your accomplishments and stay away from politics in your cover letter or resume.

No, do not please.

  1. Have a LinkedIn page and spend some time designing the page for an impressive look. Do not forget to give the link on the top of your resume.”

It is very important in this age of social media to have an online resume because it is more convenient for employers. This also helps greatly with the hiring process.

As Kevin Cowl put it, “you spend the best hours of your life at work,” so it is best to pursue your dream work and enjoy what you do. Cowl’s list of Do’s and Don’ts is a valuable starting point. 

About the Author

Samah Mohamed is an ABPA Alumni, Sudanese-American civil advocacy speaker, and part-time Math and English teacher. As a recent graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., she earned a degree in Arab World Studies with a focus in law. She is a first-generation college graduate and former research intern for both ABPA and the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce. Samah serves as a behind the scenes political activist and passionate voice on issues in the Middle East and North Africa. She is looking to pursue a career in law.


  1. Rafa on December 2, 2018 at 5:07 am

    Thank you Samah for sharing these valuable insights from Mr Cowl! “Tell a story in your cover letter” this this an “aha moment”!

    • APBA Admin on January 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you for reading!

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