Resume and Cover Letter Pointers

  • Be specific in your accomplishments. Use numbers whenever possible.  Compare:

"Wrote news releases."

vs.

"Wrote 25 news releases in a three-week period under daily deadlines"

  • If you are a student or recent graduate, list your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher. Consider including a lower GPA only if you are in a very challenging program. Add your major GPA if it's higher than your overall GPA.
  • Students and new graduates with little related work experience can use the education section as the centerpiece of their resumes, showcasing academic achievements, extracurricular activities, special projects and related courses.

  • Do not include information from high school.
  • Keep it brief.  Cover letters should never be longer than one page, and it's best if you keep your resume to one page as well.  Two-page resumes are acceptable if you have a large body of relevant experience to cover, but never submit resumes that are more than two pages long.

  • Be assertive and proactive.  Explain what special skills and qualities you can bring to the job, but don't explain what the job will do for you. Avoid empty clichés, such as "I am a self-starter" or "I'm a people person."
  • Use active words and phrases. Avoid "are" and "is" and passive voice.

  • Tailor the cover letter to the specific company and revise your cover letter for each application.  Demonstrating a knowledge of the company will make your cover letter more impressive.
  • When writing about non-professional experiences, translate them into "business- speak," and be detailed.  Compare:

"I was president of the French club."

vs.

"In my term as president of the French club, I developed valuable leadership skills as I organized a 10-person team to undertake fundraising activities."

  • Address your letter to an individual rather than a department; call the company if necessary to verify the name of the individual who will be reading your resume.
  • Appearances count, so use quality paper (but no flowery or colored letterhead).  Also, don't send photocopies of your resume or cover letter.
  • State your skills and qualifications, but don't tell the employer that you are the best person for the job. It can appear arrogant and presumptuous.
PROOFREAD!  Any Human Resources employee will tell you that one mistake is all it takes for your resume to go in the garbage.

Download this example resume and example cover letter to refer to.