Resumes and Cover Letters
Your resume and cover letter should concisely highlight your career goals, education, field experiences, work experiences, activities, special skills and accomplishments in a manner that will market you effectively for the particular position you are pursuing.
What is it?
A resume is a one to two-page document that highlights a job seekers experiences and qualifications for employers of interest. It is an employer's first impression of you so it is important that the document concisely highlight your career goals, education, field experiences, work experiences, activities, special skills and accomplishments in a manner that will market you effectively. You only get one shot to make a good first impression! Schedule an appointment with Career Services to review your document before sending it to an employer.
Types of Resumes
- Reverse Chronological: This resume is the most common resume reviewed by employers. Individuals organize their experiences in reverse chronological order -- most recent to least recent. Individuals use this format when they have a steady history of work experience with little to no gaps in employment.
- Functional: This resume focuses on skills and organizes information on the resume into skill groups or accomplishments rather than basing the order on chronology. The best time to use this format is when wanting to make a clear connection between your skills and the position for which you are applying or when your experiences do not directly relate to the position. Some individuals choose this format when a gap in employment exists.
- Design: This type of resume does not follow a specific format and is typically reserved for individuals applying for positions in advertising, marketing, design, art, or photography. These types of resumes allow individuals to showcase their design capabilities while also delivering a snapshot of their experiences and accomplishments.
- Brief and easy to read
- Avoid use of personal pronouns, e.g. "I" statements
- List the most relevant or important information at the top
- Avoid objective statements
- Bold, italicize, underline, or capitalize information to stand out, e.g. name, headers, major, positions, or companies
- Have the document critiqued by a Career Services staff member
- Include concise phrases with action verbs rather than complete sentences
- Approximately 1-2 pages in length
- Proof read the document for grammatical errors and typos
- Print your resume on high-quality paper
- Upload your most recent version of a resume to Handshake
- Tailor your resume to each position
- Do not include "references available upon request" on the resume
- Consistency in formatting including font size, type, and margins
- Do not print double-sided and always use paper clips instead of staples
Common Resume Sections
- Contact Information: include your name, city, state, zip code, email address and phone number
- Summary of Qualifications: a brief statement tailored to the specific position you are applying which highlights key achievements, skills, experience, and qualifications most relevant to the position
- Education: include this section at the top of your resume and make sure to include an expected graduation date, major, minor and a GPA (if over a 3.0)
- Honors: include academic, athletic or work accomplishments, achievements, awards, or scholarships
- Relevant Coursework: choose 4-8 courses relevant to your major or career goal
- Experience: list your part-time, full-time, and work experience on your resume in reverse chronological order
- Other Categories: consider other categories to include on your resume such as Leadership, Activities, Service, Technical Skills, Certifications, Licensure, Software Knowledge, Extracurricular Activities, Foreign Language, and Awards
What is it?
A cover letter is a one-page document that introduces yourself and your resume to an employer. This document highlights your skills, experience, and education and encourages the reader to read your resume. An original cover letter should be written for each position you apply and highlight your most significant qualities as it relates to the position you are applying.
Cover Letter Guidelines
- Research the organization and personalize each letter
- Highlight two to three accomplishments or abilities
- Use a polite, formal style that demonstrates confidence
- Close the letter with a plan for follow-up action
- Write the letter to a specific individual
- Avoid cliché phrases such as "To Whom it May Concern"
- Send an original cover letter for each job application
- Proofread for typos and grammatical errors
- Do not overuse the pronoun, "I"
- Avoid telling the employer everything in your resume
What is it?
A reference page is a list of professional individuals who can attest to your skills, experiences, and qualifications for a position.
- Include 3-5 professional references
- Include your contact information at the top of the page
- Do not include family or friends
- Let your references know you are using them as a reference
- Include their name, job title, company, email, and phone number
- References should be on a separate page from the resume
Please see the Print Resources section of our website for printable documents to help you with resumes, cover letters, and references.