Resumes & Cover Letters
During a job search, you’ll use several types of professional documents from a resume and reference page to accepting a job offer letter.
Since you’ll likely re-use and revise variations of these documents over your career, it’s a good idea to store these files in a cloud storage platform such as OneDrive, Handshake, or LinkedIn.
A resume is an outline of transferable skills (PDF), qualifications, education, and experiences that an individual has.
You should begin each bullet that describes your skills and experiences with action verbs (PDF). The verbs you use should also be in the accurate verb tense (past/present).
The purpose of a resume is to give a brief overview of who you are as a candidate. A resume communicates to an employer what you can offer them as a potential employee.
A good resume plus a dynamic cover letter will help distinguish you from other applicants.
Take a look at some resume samples (PDF) with more available in the Handshake Resource Library
Make an appointment with an advisor from Career Services to improve your resume.
When applying by mail or email, you’ll likely send a cover letter with your resume. Cover letters introduce yourself and your qualifications to an employer.
A cover letter answers 2 important questions:
Why do I want this particular position with this particular organization?
Do your research. Learn about the organization, so you can explain why you want to work for them rather than their competitors. When doing research, you might focus on their mission statement, introduction of new products or technologies, expansion into new markets, gross revenue, or environmental policies.
Why should they hire me?
Focus on 2 or 3 of the highlights from your education, work, volunteering, or personal experiences—and how they’ll benefit the employer.
Some general guidelines for cover letters include:
- Never exceed one page
- Minimize “I” statements as much as possible
- Single-spaced sentences, double-spaced between paragraphs
- Type the word “Enclosure” two spaces below your printed name
- Cover Letter Tips (PDF)
View a Cover Letter Sample (PDF) and find more samples in the Handshake Resource Library.
Along with resumes and cover letters, other professional documents will be a part of the job application process. This can be a great way to display your professional manners and etiquette.
A reference page generally goes along with a cover letter and resume. A reference page lists several individuals who you believe can speak highly of your skills and qualifications.
View a Reference Page Example (PDF).
A thank-you letter is a sign of appreciation that the employer took the time to meet and interview you.
View a Thank-You Letter Example (PDF).
When you want to accept a job offer, this letter is an official and professional way of accepting the job that has been offered to you.
View an Acceptance Letter Example (PDF).
When you want to decline a job offer, this letter is designed to be respectful and appreciative for the opportunity to interview and for the job offer.
View a Declining Letter Example (PDF).
Business cards can be very helpful when you’re networking and looking for a job.
Several vendors (PDF) will print business cards for free or at a low cost.