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


Hiring managers have numerous resumes and cover letters to sift through. They will spend less than 30 seconds looking at each resume. To stand out from the competition, your resume must 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 (i.e. local to an employer you’re applying to). Consider including your personal website if it’s professional (e.g. LinkedIn, digital portfolio).

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 of colleges and universities attended with dates, degrees, diplomas, and certificates achieved. Provide your major(s) and any concentration(s). You may include your GPA and/or academic honors received at each school. You do not have to include high school information.

List of specific skills and abilities most useful in your career field. Examples include computer, technical, laboratory, design, and foreign language skills.

Elaborate on several team or individual class projects/labs that demonstrate how you have used your classroom knowledge and skills. Emphasize team leader roles. Include what software, tools, and skills were utilized.

Indicate the name of employer, dates of employment, location (city and state), and title of each position. Describe your major responsibilities, achievements, and/or skills developed. Use action words to attract attention to your skills and accomplishments.

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 projects (e.g. research), and other experiences (e.g. volunteer, travel).

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.

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.

This format emphasizes transferable skills rather than experience. It is appropriate for a more seasoned individual or career changer. Depending 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 of the page followed by your contact information

  • The resume design can be read and printed easily

  • You saved the resume in multiple formats (PDF, Word)

  • Your resume file is small to prevent email issues to employers (around 500kb is a good size to aim for)

  • You used keywords that will stand out to employer applicant tracking systems

  • Your resume was read aloud, grammatically correct, typo-free, and reviewed by a Career Services coordinator

Resume Review

After you have written a draft of your resume, have someone give you feedback on it. Your Career Services coordinator is available to look over your resume with you. Make an appointment with your Career Services coordinator in Career Connect or stop by during drop-in advising.

Follow Up

Employers who list positions are busy with a significant number of students applying. It is recommended you follow up with each employer who receives your resume.

As a rule, if you have not received a response to your application within 10 business days, post-deadline date, you should follow-up with an email or call. Most managers appreciate a follow-up call as it shows a sincere and continued interest in their company. If you really want the job and you think you have a chance, call up to two or three times total. If the manager doesn't seem interested, it is best to move on.