Resumes and Cover Letters

Your resume serves as a personal introduction to potential employers and is a reflection of your professionalism, abilities, and communication skills. It must serve as an effective "marketing tool" to highlight what you can offer an organization.

If you are applying to positions in academia, such as research fellowships, or to graduate schools, a CV-curriculum vita, an “academic” resume, may be what you need. A cover letter should be included with your resume. It should be tailored to the position and organization of interest and highlight your related skills and experiences.

Writing your resume is one of the most important things you will do relative to your job search.

This critical document is often your first formal “introduction” to employers who expect them to be carefully thought out, clear in explaining and highlighting your skills, easy to read, and totally error free. Often you should send out a resume that is prefaced by a cover letter, which should convince employers that you are a noteworthy candidate for employment.

Make sure your resume has been critiqued!  Meet with us, as well as with individuals who have backgrounds in areas similar to your interests, to offer feedback. You may upload your resume to our Handshake resume exchange program for us to view and critique, or you may drop off a draft to our office for a consultation.

Use our Resume Guide for information on what we have found, through years of experience, to be what employers expect to see on resumes and to view a variety of examples. We also have hard copies of Resume Guides available, which you may pick up at Career Services. 

NOTE: Do realize that once employers attain your personal information via your resume, they often investigate a candidate's "virtual" persona on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.  Do make sure that the information and photos on your site, as well as information about you on friends' sites, is what you would be proud to share with a future employer.

Students who are applying to graduate/professional schools or to academically focused programs such as research fellowships, should submit a CV, a curriculum vitae – an academic “course of life,” which focuses on educational and intellectual achievements.

Visit us for feedback on your CV draft and be sure to obtain critiques from faculty who have discipline specific expertise and insights. A typical CV will include the following information and will likely be lengthier than a one page resume:

  • Name and contact information: Contact information including your home and school addresses, cell number, and email
  • Objective & Areas of Interest: Incorporate a short objective into this area, such as “Admission to Good University’s PhD program, to further career contributions to the clinical psychology profession, while gaining opportunities to contribute to research in mental illness and cognition.” List additional, specific interest areas and be sure that your interests match and complement the research and mission of the programs to which you are applying. Focus all writing on what you can offer to the organization and to the academic discipline.
  • Education: your degree earned or in progress, institution, and year of graduation. List Advanced Courses & Skills (ex. laboratory skills and equipment, statistical software, etc.) which the program will find relevant to their needs.
  • Research: Include the titles of your research, names of mentors, and a short description of your work and your results.
  • Grants, Honors and Awards: a list of grants received, honors and awards you may have received for scholarship, teaching or service.
  • Publications and Presentations: a list of published articles which you authored or co-authored, as well presentations/poster sessions given at conferences.
  • Employment and Experience: This section may include teaching experiences, laboratory experiences, intern & field experiences, volunteer work, leadership in clubs, or other relevant experiences.
  • Scholarly or Professional Memberships: a listing of the professional organizations of which you are a member. Note if you have held an office or committee member role.
  • References: Prior to sending out your CV, create a list of at least 3 persons who have agreed to write letters of recommendation for you; include their names, titles and contact information.

When responding to employment opportunities and submitting resumes to potential employers, never send your resume without a cover letter.

The cover letter "introduces" you to employers and highlights the abilities, experiences and education you have to offer them. Cover letters which impress employers most are those which address their needs and relate your skills to the actual job description.

This letter should never be a "form" letter, it should be directed to a specific person, if possible, in application for a specific position. If a specific position is not available, you may still send a resume and cover letter requesting that the organization considers you for future openings.

The cover letter should consist of an introductory paragraph explaining how you heard about the job opening or the organization; a second paragraph briefly describing your skills and interests and what you can offer to the organization; and a final paragraph requesting an interview and describing how you will follow-up on your correspondence, if you can.

Always make sure that your cover letter is proofread by a variety of "reviewers." Do bring your cover letter to Career Services for a critique as well.

Don't forget that you also need to send "thank you" letters to employers after interviews as well! Thank you, Acceptance, and Rejection of Offer Letters are also included in this guide. You may also pick up a hard copy of the guide at Career Services.