Résumés and Cover Letters

Your résumé is your own self-marketing tool. A résumé is sometimes referred to as a Curriculum Vitae (CV). Develop your résumé with your goal of obtaining a job interview. Target your résumé information toward your career field of interest and clearly define how your experience and accomplishments would add value to an employer. Remember that your résumé typically only receives about 30 seconds of attention from a recruiter, so create your résumé to clearly and concisely market your relevant skills, knowledge, and accomplishments.

Students typically spend a great deal of time on developing their résumé. The résumé development process gives students the opportunity to introspect and recall their accomplishments. Students are encouraged to gain résumé feedback from at least one person, in addition to their career counselor, before applying for positions.

Main Résumé Categories

  • Contact Information:
    Name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
  • Career Profile (optional):
    Profile Statement: a summary of a person's qualifications (optional) if you are unsure or have a lack of space leave it out.
  • Education:
    Full institution name, program or department, degree, location, and projected year of graduation.
  • Work Experience:
    Include dates (most recent first), job title, name of firm or institution, and location (city and state). Include list of responsibilities and use strong verbs to present each point. State your accomplishments and quantify all applicable areas. In addition, state all instances where you built on your transferable skills, including public speaking, teamwork, or liaising with ranking individuals in the organization. Can include paid, volunteer and intern positions.
  • Projects:
    Include project work on your résumé, as this aspect may be part of your curriculum and rare at other institutions. Companies value this practical experience. Particularly if you have no technical experience, include project work on your résumé.
  • Honors:
    List honors, awards, scholarships, publications.
  • Skills:
    Clearly state foreign language, computer, and other relevant technical skills.
  • Memberships:
    Professional memberships, if any. Engineering students should join the appropriate group in the freshman or sophomore year.

Additional Résumé Categories

Try to group these together when you can.

Additional categories, which can add a great deal to your résumé to highlight special knowledge and skills, include:

  • Accomplishments
  • Bibliography
  • Interests
  • Internship Experience
  • Languages
  • Leadership Activities
  • Presentations
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Scholarships
  • Technical Skills
  • Training
  • Volunteer Activities


There are two basic résumé formats: the chronological and the functional. The chronological is the most popular and the one usually preferred by employers. It lists your achievements by date, the most recent experience first. Note, students are encouraged to list their strongest qualifications first, Chronological résumés work well for students whose work experience is directly related to their professional objective.

The functional résumé is organized around specific skills and allows the writer to highlight strengths in many areas. It is beneficial for those students whose experience is not directly related to their chosen career. The drawback is that information on a functional résumé can be taken out of context, giving the impression that the applicant is trying to hide something.

Appearance and Length

The résumé must look professional and be aesthetically pleasing, as the résumé appearance is often a major factor in getting the employer's attention. The résumé should be concise and direct, with material presented in a clear, easy-to-follow format. Font sizes should remain in the 10-14 point range and for most students and recent graduates, a one-page résumé is standard.

Create visual impact using bolded and/or CAPITAL LETTERS. The use of underlining and italics can affect the ability to scan one's résumé, so avoid these options.

Hard copy applications should be printed on high-quality paper of neutral color, using matching paper for the résumé, cover letter, and envelope.

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