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Cover Letters and Resumes

A cover letter is an introduction that precedes your resume and it may be the most important document that you send to prospective employers. This is the first opportunity that you have to make a good impression. Make your document brief and easily readable, as well as demonstrate that you are professional, thoughtful, and organized. 

Your resume is your opportunity to compose a document that summarizes your entire career history along with all of your professional accomplishments to date. This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from other job seekers. Be sure that the design of your resume matches the industry to which you are applying, your font is consistent throughout, and that you are honest.

Increase your chances of making it to the next step of the screening process by having a member of our career services team review your resume or cover letter.

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Cover LettersCover Letters
Writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter is an introduction that precedes your resume and it may be the most important document that you send to prospective employers. This is the first opportunity that you have to make a good impression. Make your document brief and easily readable, as well as demonstrate that you are professional, thoughtful, and organized.

The cover letter should not exceed one page and should address five key points — also referred to as the Five W’s. These are: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

  • Who: The cover letter should include who you are and to whom the letter is addressed. Find out the name of the hiring manager and address the letter directly to them instead of “To whom it may concern”.
  • What: Make sure to include the position that you are applying for within the first sentence.
  • Where: If you are not in the same city as the open position, indicate where you are currently located. If you are planning to move to the city where the job is located, explain your intention briefly.
  • When: If you are enrolled in class, indicate when you expect to graduate. Also indicate when you are available for an interview, when you are available to begin working, and when you are most easily reached.
  • Why: The why is the most important part of your cover letter and should make up the bulk of your content. Be sure to include why you want this position as well as why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

Learn how to organize your cover letter

Cover Letter Samples

Below are sample cover letters that follow the recommendations mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Although the content is specific, attention should be given to how the letter introduces the applicant, the flow of the letter, and the length. These examples were designed to bring attention to the applicant’s strongest areas, as well as the most relevant skills for the open position.

Please note that names and contact information used in these samples are completely fictitious and have been used for the purposes of providing realistic samples.

A portion of the information above was retrieved from Career Insider, powered by Vault.

Writing a Resume

If you were given the opportunity to compose a document that summarizes your entire career history and all of your professional accomplishments to date, what would it say? Would you write about the positive impact your work had on your employers, co-workers, or customers? Would you divulge personal information that speaks to your character? How much information would you share? 

Your responses to these questions can directly influence whether a prospective employer develops a favorable or unfavorable impression of your resume. In today’s job market, filled with qualified applicants, you need to distinguish yourself from other job seekers. The following tips are provided to assist you with improving your resume and increase the likelihood that it will catch the eye of prospective employers.

More on writing a resume

Resume Samples - Chronological

A chronological resume lists your job experience beginning with the most recent position and ending with your earliest position. Typically, chronological resumes include personal information such as name and contact information, career objective, professional experience, relevant career accomplishments, professional affiliations, education, awards, and references. View three sample chronological resumes below:

Please note that names and contact information used in these samples are completely fictitious and have been used for the purposes of providing realistic samples.

A portion of the information above was retrieved from Career Insider powered by Vault.

Resume Samples - Functional

A functional resume is best used in situations where specific skills and accomplishments gained through experience or other qualifications will demonstrate your competency. This resume is ideal for those with limited work experience in the particular field in which they are applying. Typically functional resumes include personal information such as name and contact information, career objective, professional experience, relevant career accomplishments, professional affiliations, education, awards, and references. View one of the three samples below:

Please note that names and contact information used in these samples are completely fictitious and have been used for the purposes of providing realistic samples.

A portion of the information above was retrieved from Career Insider powered by Vault.

Resume Sample - Combination

A combination resume, sometimes called a hybrid resume, contains elements of both a functional and a chronological resume. A combination resume is best used by those who want to draw attention to specific skills or proficiencies while still providing detailed information about their employment history. Like a functional resume, a combination resume often lists and describes skill sets; like a chronological resume, a combination resume provides a detailed account of someone’s job history in reverse-chronological order. 

This resume also includes the other components of functional or chronological resumes: name and contact information, career objective, professional experience, relevant career accomplishments, professional affiliations, education, awards, and references. View the sample below:

Please note that names and contact information used in these samples are completely fictitious and have been used for the purposes of providing realistic samples.

A portion of the information above was retrieved from Career Insider powered by Vault.

Resume Samples - Federal

A federal resume includes many of the same components as a standard resume: name and contact information, career objective, professional experience, relevant career accomplishments, professional affiliations, education, awards, and references. However, this resume is considerably longer than resumes used to apply for employment opportunities in the private sector. A federal resume also contains various components not included in a typical chronological, functional, or combination resume, including the vacancy announcement number, salary expectations, veteran status, and citizenship status. Additionally, a federal resume should include contact information for prior supervisors, hours worked per week and salary history. Finally, a federal resume must include a thorough description of past job duties with performance-related statistics to highlight how you had a quantifiable positive impact in your previous positions. View one of the three samples below:

Please note that names and contact information used in these samples are completely fictitious and have been used for the purposes of providing realistic samples.

A portion of the information above was retrieved from Career Insider powered by Vault.

Other Letters and Samples

Sending a letter to a prospective employer is a personable and professional way to relay information, offer thanks, follow-up, show your interest, and accept or decline a job offer. The following examples represent a variety of letters that you may use during your job search. Each section includes the appropriate time to send these letters, what should be included, and a sample to review.

Thank You Letter

A thank you letter is essential and should be placed in the mail the day after the interview. If competition between you and another candidate is intense, the thank-you letter may give you an edge because it shows courtesy and interest in the position. Keep your note cordial, simple, and brief. Thank the interviewer for inviting you and say that it was a pleasure to meet him or her. Mention something you learned during the interview. Finally, assure them of your continued interest in the position, provided you are still interested.

Acceptance Letter 

Although most employers will provide an official acceptance letter, you might find yourself in a position where you must create one. If the job you accept involves a number of agreements such as salary, health benefits, a 401(k) plan, stock options, annual raises, vacation days, work hours, and travel, then your acceptance letter will confirm those agreements and ensure that you and your employer have a mutual understanding about the terms of your employment.

Declining Position Letter 

If you find that you need to decline an employment offer, you should refuse the offer in a professional and courteous manner. First, decline politely and as soon as possible, so the employer can offer the job to the next best applicant. Usually, the fastest way to decline is via phone. Next, follow up with a "no-thank-you" letter to the individual who offered you the position. Your declining position letter should be respectful and appreciative of the offer. While you may decline the position, the contact you have made may be an ally in the future.

Please note that names and contact information used in these samples are completely fictitious and have been used for the purposes of providing realistic samples. 

A portion of the information above was retrieved from Career Insider, powered by Vault.