Resumes and Cover Letters
Resumes and cover letters are essential marketing tools when applying for:
- On-campus and seasonal employment
- Volunteer work
- Job shadowing experiences
- Professional positions
- Graduate school
The Career Development Center provides resources and services to help you develop your marketing and professional communication package. Review and follow the steps below.
Learn the Basics (....before you write)
Whether you are preparing a resume and/or cover letter for a professional position, internship, class assignment or graduate school application, it is important to understand the basics of a professional resume and cover letter.
Writing Your Resume and Cover Letter Info Session
Attend an info session to learn about resume types and styles, the best way to arrange your resume, and which topics should and should not appear. Learn about the key elements of a well-written cover letter and when and how to send these marketing materials. For dates and times see Schedule of Events.
Resume and Cover Letter Samples
These samples will assist you in writing an effective resume and cover letter.
While resumes are the preferred document in business and industry, curricula vitae are often used for academic or research positions and may be required for some graduate school applications, grant proposals or school administration positions. CVs are longer in length than a resume and reflect specific experience in teaching, research, and scholarly publications within one's discipline. Click here for more information.
A federal resume written to apply for a position with the federal government differs in both content and format from a traditional resume. Click here for more information.
How to Write an Effective Resume and Cover Letter
1. Reflect on your skills (...before you write)
Understanding your unique strengths and qualifications will help you to prepare an effective, targeted resume and cover letter and prepare for a subsequent interview. Remember, you can continue to develop transferable skills through participation in other experience-building activities.
- Transferable skills are talents that you acquired through your coursework, campus activities, employment, volunteer work and leisure time activities. These talents can translate into marketable qualifications for an internship or job. Click here for a transferable skills worksheet.
- Career tests are another way for you to understand your strengths, workplace values and interests. Click here for more information.
2. Research your field of interest to become more familiar with the skills and abilities employers/graduate schools are looking for (before you write)
- Visit the ONET website to research occupations of interest. Click on Find Occupations, then type in keywords or phrases related to your occupational goal in the top left search box. Select the job titles that interest you, then review the tasks, tools and technology, and knowledge descriptions.
- Review actual job postings/announcements in your occupational field. What are the keywords, nouns and phrases used in this industry? Click here for a list of job search sites, choose one, then search for postings by job title or keywords.
Compare your skills to the requirements that employers are seeking. These are the skills that you want to highlight on your resume/cover letter and during an interview.
3. Prepare your draft
Create your resume and cover letter in an MS Word document. Do not use a resume template. Font size and style, margin width, line spacing, use of bullets and white space all impact the readability of your resume and cover letter, and therefore the impression you make on prospective employers and graduate schools. Highlight your qualifications by using these elements to create reader-friendly and organized documents. Click here for specific formatting guidelines:
4. Finalize your resume and cover letter
"You'll never have a second chance to make a good first impression." Proofread and edit your resume and cover letter. Read through your documents carefully making sure they are:
- Clear (raise no questions)
- Concise (to the point)
- Consistent (font, spacing, and format)
5. Save your resume in multiple formats and upload to Handshake for employers to view
You will need formatted and unformatted versions of your resume for various modes of distribution. Be sure to save your documents using a professional file name such as your first and last name.
- Create a PDF file of your resume for sending as an attachment
Have your documents reviewed by CDC
The CDC staff will make suggestions to improve your content, grammar, organization, formatting and style consistency. Reviews are intended to help you tailor your resume and cover letter to your individual needs after you have reviewed and applied the basic content and format recommendations noted on this page. A review is not a tutorial on how to write a resume or cover letter. Please note: You may have each of your documents reviewed up to two times a year (July-June).
Want to have your cover letter or resume drafts reviewed for feedback? You may either 1) schedule a 1:1 in-person appointment using Handshake (go to Career Center, then Appointments, then 'In-person Resume or Cover Letter Review'), 2) stop by the Career Development Center Mon. - Fri. from 2-4pm in Stratton 113 (first-come, first-served), or, 3) submit your resume for a staff member to review it and provide written feedback through Handshake.
Resume Red Flags