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The Importance of Your Resume and Cover Letter

Grace Bovard, C'19
Career Center Intern

Resumes and cover letters are a key to your success. Here are some tips to help get you started.

When applying for jobs and internships, a strong resume and cover letter can show prospective employers how your experience, skills and personality can benefit their companies. Following the right strategies and tactics when writing these professional documents can help make positive impressions and earn you an invitation to interview.

Resumes should embody your professional, educational and volunteer experience. Be sure to show recruiters that you are qualified for the position. Incorporate key words from the field, and highlight your strengths so that they cannot be missed. The goal for your resume is to present the strongest possible image of yourself to perspective employers.

When formatting your resume, avoid common mistakes and follow the guidelines specific to the department in which you’re applying. Make sure your resume has 1 ½ inch borders for a clean look, and headings for different sections with your skills and experience are also necessary for an easy read. Your resume can be organized based on chronological order or skills, whichever presents the stronger case. Make sure your credentials are explained using active voice. A strong resume can be one to two pages depending on your experience and the position being sought. Graduate school resumes are generally two or three pages.

A cover letter is the document where you are given the opportunity to show prospective employers how you can be an asset to their team. A cover letter should reflect your personality and show your passions through descriptions of your experiences. You want to transfer your skills to the requirements of the job description from the company. Remember that your writing reflects who you are, so take the time to edit your drafts for grammatical and structural errors.

The best cover letters are specific to the job. Start with an attention grabber – this will give your perspective employer something to remember about you. The most important aspect of a cover letter is showing employers how your qualifications can benefit their company. Explain your past experiences in conjunction with how those skills could be used in their job position. Link what you've done with what you’re capable of and with what the job needs. Sell yourself!

When reading a job description, pick out the most important requirements or needs from the employer and highlight them. By doing so, you can set up your resume and cover letter to fit those exact specifications. The best job descriptions will provide a description of the organization or company first. You want to read this to be more aware of the company’s values, mission, and office life. Plus, you can use this information to align your values with the company’s in your cover letter. Recruiters want to hire people that will represent their company well; if you have the same values and support the mission, you will be a better fit for their organization.

The Career Center offers many seminars and workshops for resume and cover letter writing throughout the academic year. For more help preparing professional documents for your next job, attend one of our many events or book an appointment online at or by emailing Our experts are here to help you become a successful professional. Get started today!

Grace Bovard, C'19
Career Center Intern