Resumes, Cover Letters, & Curriculum Vitae


What is a resume and why do I need it?

  • A resume presents to an employer a summary of your relevant educational credentials, experience, skills, and extracurricular involvement. In many situations, your resume is the first impression an employer has of you. You want to make sure it is the strongest statement possible of your assets and reflects the “true” you.
  • Employers spend a short time reviewing the resume of a potential candidate. It is essential that you have a well formatted, descriptive document that highlights what you offer the employer. Your goal is to advance to the next step in the job search process, which is usually the interview!

Quick tips when writing a resume:

  • As you begin to apply to different job positions, consider changing the sequence of information on your resume to emphasize particular job experiences, skills, or educational/research experience that match the position sought.
  • Avoid using computerized templates for your resume because they typically do not produce the best resume formats.
  • Typically, your resume should not exceed 1-page in length. There are particular industries and job targets that would allow for more. Check with a Career Team member for more information.
  • In relation to font sizes and types, Times New Roman, Arial, Palatino, and Century Gothic (10-12 point) are common fonts. Margins should be approximately one inch on all sides.
  • Check carefully for correct grammar and punctuation. Spelling errors are unacceptable! Always ask 2 – 3 people to review your resume for grammatical or punctuation errors before you send it off to an employer.
  • The average resume requires 4-5 drafts before reaching a satisfactory version. Edit each draft to improve word choice, emphasize relevant experience, and reduce redundancy. Update your resume frequently as you continue to obtain new employment experiences, leadership positions, skills, certifications, and extracurricular activities.
  • Print out the final draft on white or ivory resume paper using a laser printer.

What is the resume approval process in Handshake?

  • In an effort to maintain positive relationships with our employers and help you present yourself professionally, we require each student to have their first-resume approved before it can be used for applying for jobs. The first time you upload your resume into Handshake, your resume will be held for review by our staff, based on the criteria in our Resume Checklist. Resume review typically takes 1-2 business days. Once your resume is reviewed, you will receive an e-mail letting you know whether or not it has been approved. If changes are needed, you will receive individual feedback about your resume. If you have questions about the feedback you receive, you're welcome to come in for our drop-in to get your resume reviewed in-person and ask questions. Please review the Resume Guides/Examples carefully before submitting your resume.




What is the purpose of a cover letter?

  • The purpose of a cover letter is to tell a prospective employer what you can do, why you are interested in them, and why you feel you are qualified.  A good, well-planned cover letter is just as important as an impressive resume or CV; and together they form an important resource in your job search.  Send a cover letter anytime you submit your resume or CV for a position.

Quick tips when writing a cover letter

  • A cover letter should ALWAYS accompany a resume or application (unless the employer/job description notes otherwise).
  • Keep your cover letter to one page (3-5 paragraphs). Prioritize your most relevant and positive experiences.
  • Use the professional format for closing, “Sincerely,” with your name (typed) and your signature between the two.
  • Place the word “Enclosure” at the bottom of your cover letter, to indicate that you will attach a resume or application to your cover letter.
  • Write to a specific person, ideally the one who actually makes the hiring decision. If the job description does not list a specific person, do your research – go online and find the appropriate contact individual. You can also contact the Front Desk Receptionist or the Human Resources Office within that particular company if you still cannot find the appropriate contact person.
  • If you try all of the options above and still end up without a specific contact individual, write to an appropriate position title. For example, address your letter to the “Sales Manager” when applying for a Sales position.
  • Create a separate cover letter for each job. Generic letters do not impress employers! Employers might interpret a generic cover letter as lack of interest or passion for the job position.
  • Print your cover letter on the same type of paper as your resume.  Furthermore, maintain side margins of approximately one inch with even space at the top and bottom of the page.
  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure that you have 2-3 people review your cover letter before you send it to an employer. Grammatical errors are unacceptable!



  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is similar to a resume - both are utilized as marketing tools to showcase your skills, experiences, knowledge, etc. A CV is more focused on presenting your full academic history and scholarly potential. It can be multiple pages, and the target audience is fellow academics in your field of study.

When to use a CV (Instead of Resume)

  • Use a CV when applying to academic, scientific, or research positions. Also, some graduate and professional programs will request a CV instead of a resume.
  • Use a CV for grant, fellowship and scholarship applications. Finally, a CV can be used for Departmental or Tenure reviews