Resumes, Cover Letters & CVs
Career Services offers assistance in every aspect of writing, formatting and proofreading resumes, cover letters and curriculum vitae.
The Vandal Resume Guide is fantastic resource to reference when developing or refining or resume. It contains many helpful examples, tips and tricks to describe a few of the contents.
Please email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Idaho Commons Room 334 to meet with a Career Advisor for assistance with your resume, cover letter, etc.
- Overall design should be neat, balanced, consistent, easy to read and logically organized.
- Typically, resumes are one page, but can be as long as two.
- Information categories should be listed in order of importance according based on the position.
- Specific experience under each category should be listed in reverse chronological order.
- Details under each specific experience should be listed starting with the most significant or relevant first.
- Focus on describing accomplishments or skills developed, rather than listing duties. Almost anyone can perform a duty, but not everyone accomplishes something or learns from an experience.
- Use active verbs to begin details under each specific experience. Use key words from the job description. Download a list of action verbs ».
- Employers tend to prefer bulleted, concise, relevant and accurate details under experience. Short lines of text make it easier to pick out details.
- Avoid the use of personal pronouns.
- Margins should be consistent all the way around. One inch to approximately .5 inch margins are recommended.
- Use size 10-12 font with larger headings. Be conservative in font style. We suggest Arial, Times New Roman or Tahoma.
- Use graphics, bold, italics and underlined text judiciously. Don't let styling distract from content.
- Proofread multiple times. Career Services can help. Please email email@example.com for assistance.
- Use resume paper when printing. If sending electronically, save as a PDF to retain formatting.
- Name, mailing address, phone number, email address, links to portfolios and/or Linkedin
- Education and training
- Work, internship, volunteerism and other significant experiences
- Skills such as technology, equipment and foreign languages
- Licenses, accreditations and/or certifications
- Honors, awards and achievements
- Service activities, leadership, clubs and organizations
- Personal data such as height, weight, age, marital status, race, ethnicity, religion, date of birth or a photograph
- Social Security number
- Reasons for leaving a job
- Early childhood experiences
- Weaknesses, demands or exaggerations
- Long paragraphs — use short statements or bulleted lists
- Hobbies unless pertinent to position
- References are typically listed on a separate document and given only when requested
Often, a cover letter is a required part of an application process. However, even when it is optional, it is advantageous to include one. Writing a cover letter demonstrates that you are interested enough to invest extra time drafting a thoughtful letter.
Using a generic cover letter. Employers can usually tell when you've used the same cover letter for multiple jobs. It makes a bad first impression because it appears that you aren't interested in that specific job or don't understand what unique skills are important. Be sure to write a tailored cover letter for each position that makes strong connections between your experiences and interest in the company and their needs, challenges, and/or mission.
Failing to provide examples. Many cover letters make empty claims, asserting that the applicant is a "good communicator" or "detail-oriented." Unfortunately, employers say that these claims usually are not believed and have become common clichés. To make your claims more powerful, add an example or proof to each skill you mention. For example, you might write, "I am very detail-oriented, a skill that I honed while completing detailed inventory sheets working in a grocery store".
Restating the resume. Often, cover letters will fall into the trap of reiterating the facts of the resume — "I worked at Company X for 2 years where I was a cashier. Then, I worked at Company Y in 2018." Instead of repeating the resume, a good cover letter should draw connections between your skills and experiences, and how these connect to the company's needs. For example, a cover letter statement could be "As a shift manager at Jimmy John's, I enjoyed training and coaching new employees to be successful within the team, a skill that I know would be helpful working as a team leader within your organization."
*For example cover letters, see our sample documents above
- Cover letters are typically one page and briefly elaborate qualifications, interest, and fit for the job.
- A letter of qualification is similar to a cover letter, but addresses every qualification in the job description. It is often longer than one page. Download letter of qualification example.
Both a resume and CV (curriculum vitae) are documents that outline your education, experience and skills. However, they differ in their purpose and layout.
- When applying to a job in the U.S., a resume is almost always the preferred document.
- In many other countries, a resume is known as a CV. However, the term CV refers to a different document in the U.S.
- In the U.S., CVs are most commonly used in academic environments, such as when applying to graduate school, jobs in academia, or research positions.
- CVs are more detailed than resumes and may be many pages long, while resumes are concise, usually only 1-2 pages in length.
- CVs include more details on academic accomplishments including research, publications, and teaching, while resumes focus on work experiences, education, and skills.
*Note- for details about what to include in a resume, see our Vandal Resume Guide (PDF)
Possible categories to include in your CV:
- Education and training
- Research experiences
- Teaching experiences
- Work experiences and internships
- Projects, works, exhibitions, and performances
- Certificates, licenses, and credentials
- Publications (authored or contributed to)
- Conferences and workshops (attended or presented)
- Fellowships, grants, or other funding
- Skills such as: languages, technical, computer
- Service, volunteerism, and leadership
- Areas of knowledge, expertise or research interest
- Awards and accomplishments
- Affiliations or memberships