Cover Letters and Resumes

Capture the attention of employers through highlighting your experience in cover letters and resumes.

Cover Letters

The cover letter bridges the gap between your skills and experiences with the position you’re applying for. Capture the reader’s attention with your interest in the company, a voice that fits your personality, and steps on how to contact you.

A cover letter usually includes three to four paragraphs and answers the following questions:

Cover Letter Checklist

  • The letter is addressed to the proper reader. If unknown, addressed to “Hiring Manager”

  • The letter is formatted with a business appropriate font, size, and layout

  • The cover letter is personalized to the specific position

  • Your writing is professional with hints of personality

  • You did not overuse the word “I” throughout the cover letter

  • The letter was read aloud and is grammatically correct and free of typos

Resumes

Hiring managers will spend less than 30 seconds looking at your resume. To stand out from the competition, it is essential that your resume be the best possible representation of who you are and what you have to offer an employer.

In order to write a persuasive resume, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What is the employer looking for in a potential candidate?
  • What skills/qualities can you offer an employer?
  • What resume format will best highlight your skills and accomplishments?

Build a Resume

Your name, phone number, and email address should be at the top of the resume. You can add your home address if it’s to your advantage (local to a company you’re applying to). Consider including your personal website, if it’s professional.

Provide a brief statement indicating the type of opportunity by title and/or function you are interested in. If you’re applying for co-op jobs, add when you’re available to work (months, semesters, seasons, etc.).

List the colleges and universities attended, active dates, degrees pursued, and diplomas/certificates achieved. Provide your major(s), any concentrations, and/or your GPA/academic honors received at each school. You do not have to include high school information.

Create a list of specific skills and abilities most useful in your career field. Place the skills you want to stand out to the employer first and skills you’re still working on last.

Breakdown several team or individual class projects/labs that demonstrate how you have used your classroom knowledge and skills in a team or work setting. Emphasize team leader roles.

Indicate the name of the company, dates of employment, location, and title of each position. Describe your major responsibilities and note any achievements or skills developed. Include impressive data where it is appropriate and successful project outcomes.

Include extracurricular activities, professional memberships and affiliations, community activities, or hobbies. Be sure to mention any offices held.

Where you see fit, you can include military record, licenses/certifications, publications, major research projects, volunteer/travel experiences.

Resume Format

The two most frequently used resume formats are reverse chronological or functional. Choose the resume format that most effectively markets your skills and experiences.

Reverse Chronological Format

This is the most popular format. It is most appropriate for the typical student, new graduate, or someone with a very logical career path. This format emphasizes education and job history with the most recent events listed first.

Functional Format

This format places emphasis on transferable skills rather than experience. It is appropriate for a more seasoned individual or career changer. Dependent on the job objective, group your history into broad functional skill categories. This format distracts the employer from dismissing your resume based on a past career path.

Resume Checklist

  • The resume is formatted with a business appropriate font, size, and layout

  • Your name is emphasized at the top with contact information to follow

  • The resume design can be read and printed easily

  • You saved multiple formats of the resume for different upload scenarios (pdf, Word).

  • Your resume file is small to prevent email issues to employers

  • You used keywords that will stand out to company AI systems

  • Your resume was read aloud, grammatically correct, typo-free, and presented at a Resume Review session