Build a Great Resume and Cover Letter

Potential Headings

Academic Background
Achievements
Activities
Additional Skills
Campus Involvement
Certifications
Community Involvement & Service
Computer Languages & Skills
Education
Experience
Honors & Awards
Interests
Internship Experience
Languages
Leadership
Military Service
Personal Statement
Related Coursework & Projects
Scholarships
Special Skills
Study Abroad
Travel Abroad
Volunteer Activities

Additional Resources

Resume Checklist & Rubric
Action Verbs List
Free Resume Builder

Resume Purpose

A resume is a short document that highlights your most relevant accomplishments, skills, and experiences; it also demonstrates your communication skills. Typically the goal of a resume is to grab an employer's attention in the hopes they invite you for an interview to learn even more. A resume is not necessarily a recitation of everything you've ever done, but it should clearly and specifically highlight your background in a way that relates to the position or opportunity for which you're applying. Traditional industries such as business and engineering typically prefer one-page resumes, while some other fields such as education may allow for two-page resumes.

Sample CVs

Additional Resources

CV Purpose

In the United States, a resume is a short (usually one page) summary of education and work experience, whereas a Curriculum Vitae, also known as a CV, is a longer document with more academic and professional details. Oftentimes a CV refers to an academic resume. However, in Europe and in some other countries, resume and CV are used interchangeably.

Potential Headings

Academic Employment
Campus Activities & Involvement
Community Involvement & Service
Conference Presentations
Honors & Awards
Languages
Professional Activities
Professional Memberships
Professional Service
Projects
Publications
References
Research Experience
Study Abroad
Teaching & Advising

Personal Statement

The personal statement should provide concrete evidence of your potential as an academic community member and eventual graduate of the program. Discuss what you’ll bring to your academic career beyond the knowledge you’ve gained in the classroom as well as what studying at this specific institution will do for you as a future professional. Include anything (without getting too personal) that can give reviewers a sense of you as a person, particularly experiences that show your promise, initiative, and ability to persevere despite obstacles. This is also a good place to display your communication skills. If part of your academic record is not the best reflection of your ability, the personal statement is where you can explain that and direct reviewers’ attention to evidence of your promise for higher education.

Tips & Structure

The purpose of a cover letter and resume package is to motivate the employer to take action and invite you for an interview. This may mean that you include similar information on both documents, but the way you talk about that experience and background should be different. Write a new and unique cover letter for each job description, and target your cover letter to a specific person at the company, if possible. Use information from the job description as well as industry keywords as you describe your qualifications. Identify and highlight 3-5 skills to show the employer how you are an exact match for their needs; outline how you learned or honed those skills in previous positions or academic endeavors plus how you can use them in the employer’s organization.

Email Cover Letters

If you are asked to email a resume attachment without a cover letter, use the body of the email as a cover letter. You may copy and paste the information from a word processing document as long as you do not have to attach a cover letter with the resume. If, however, you are required to submit both a resume and cover letter, your email should be different. In those situations, your email should be a short, concise version of your cover letter, outlining the position for which you are applying and why as well as 2-3 brief reasons why you are a good fit for the job or internship. Remember to indicate that there are attachments to the email and end by thanking the person for their time.