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Resume, References, Cover Letter Guide

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What is a Resume?

A résumé is a document that summarizes your work-related accomplishments and capabilities. It acts as a marketing tool to “brand yourself” to potential employers. Avoid using widely-available templates and ensure the document is limited to one page.

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Résumés include past experience and qualifications including:

Contact Information

  • Your name: Should be larger and bolder than the rest of your resume
  • Current or permanent address
  • Cell phone number
  • Email address: Now is the time to create a new email address outside of “ Use your email provider of choice (such as Gmail) to create a professional email address to use for job applications. is the best way to go.
  • Web page address (if relevant): This can be your personal website, your LinkedIn Profile, or a link to your online Portfolio. 



  • Name of degree-granting institutions with most recent first
  • Degree received (such as Bachelor or Arts) and major
  • Graduation date with month and year (or dates of attendance if a degree was not completed)
  • Overseas academic experience (such as study abroad, dates, name of specific program/university abroad)


  • Minors, specializations, or focus areas.
  • Honors and GPA (only if it enhances your résumé)
  • Relevant courses (a maximum of five with specific course name (Professional Communication) and not course code (ENG 2212)
  • Senior capstone project title and description
  • If seeking particular certification after graduation consider including relevant information. For example, if CPA-bound, include “total credits: 150”

Work Experience

A summary of experience and accomplishments including jobs and internships. List most recent first and include:

  • Position title
  • Name of company or organization
  • Location of company or organization (city and state)
  • Dates worked (month and year)
  • Descriptions of skills utilized, responsibilities, and accomplishments using Action Verbs. Use present tense for current positions only
  • Believable, verifiable, and quantifiable accomplishments. For example, “Managed $100,000 budget”

Click here to learn more about writing accomplishment statements

Leadership & Service

This section should include campus involvement, volunteer work, and athletics. Follow a similar format as the work experience section of your résumé in this section.

Skills & Interest

Headers can include:

  • Skills: use the section for hard skills such as computer programs/software, technical skills, etc.
  • Languages: highlight any foreign language skills. Differentiate if you have a basic understanding, are conversant, or are fluent
  • Interests: this information primarily serves as a conversation starter between you and an employer. List no more than three interests (such as finance, marketing, and travel)


  • Ensure fonts are large enough that they can be read and margins are between 0.5 and 1.0 inches
  • Save completed résumés as a PDF to ensure formatting is maintained when submitting electronically

What is a Cover Letter?

Employers often ask for both cover letters résumés. Read the position advertisement to see if a cover letter is required.

When writing a cover letter follow these guidelines:

  • Customize each cover letter to fit each company/organization and position you are applying to. Research companies/organizations to learn about their work and mission
  • Use formal letter format and provide your full name, address, and the date
  • Address an individual in the letter (for instance, “Dear Ms. Smith,”) or a group of people (such as “Dear Hiring Committee,”). Never use “To Whom It May Concern” or similar salutations. Research the company or organization you’re contacting to identify an appropriate addressee
  • Briefly explain why you are interested in the job
  • A cover letter should build on the résumé, but not repeat the same information
  • Express eagerness to interview and enthusiasm for the job
  • Thank the employer for their consideration of your application
  • Make sure each letter is free of typos and other errors
  • Write concisely and ensure each letter is no more than one page in length
  • Use action verbs to describe past experiences and skills.
  • Save copies of all cover letters. You may be able to reuse pieces your letter the next time you apply for a job.
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