Résumés, Cover Letters, and Curriculum Vitaes
A résumé is a brief summary of your professional qualifications designed to get you an interview. At an initial screening, employers may spend less than 30 seconds reviewing your résumé; therefore, the information must be conveyed in a clear, well‐organized style. It is imperative that your résumé is flawless. View sample résumés here.
Just Getting Started?
Before you start designing your résumé, review your educational and professional history. Open a blank document on your computer and type up a list of everything you’ve done that might be useful to any employer, someday. This document will be your “running résumé.” We strongly encourage you not to use a template.
- Education: institution, degree, major, minor, concentration, GPA, study abroad, honor/awards, SIP, ICRP, etc.
- Experience: employment, internships/externships, volunteer work, research projects, etc.
- Activities: athletics, campus organizations, volunteer work, skill summaries, etc.
Next, open a new, blank document. Look at the description of the opportunity to which you are applying, and make choices about what to include or exclude from your running résumé, based on the particular skills you want to emphasize. Ask yourself:
- Who is my intended audience and what are they looking for?
- What are four or five personal attributes I want to convey to this potential employer?
Basic Tips for Résumé Crafting:
- Keep finished product to one page:
- Keep a longer “running résumé” on your computer/in the cloud for reference
- Keep margins .5 inch to 1 inch
- Use fonts that are easy to read
- Keep formatting consistent throughout, including dates, hyphens, italics, punctuation
- Spell out “Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Kalamazoo College”
- Everyone from K is getting a B.A. no matter your major
- Include year of graduation but not starting year
- Quantify accomplishments using Challenge/Action/Result method
- Start bullet points with verbs and keep them concise
- Use language stated in job description, qualifications, etc.
- Tailor your résumé to the job to which you are applying
- Telephone voicemail greeting
- Using a professional email address
- The use of a physical address:
- Yes: If you are doing a local search, you may want to include it
- No: A current address may be viewed as a relocation challenge
- Using your LinkedIn URL in your contact section if your LinkedIn profile is complete
- Including foreign study. Your study abroad experience may set you apart from other candidates. Learn more in this tip sheet on Including Study Abroad in Your Résumé (86 KB PDF Document).
- Include an objective statement
- Include a separate “campus” and “home” physical address
- Label “phone” or “email address”
- Say “references available upon request”
- Include soft skills (such as “team player” or “creative”) in a Skills section, instead show soft skills in experience descriptions
- Use a template
- Use columns, text boxes, or tables, which are hard for an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to read
- Bullets you can’t create with your keyboard
- Serif fonts (may not be read by some older ATS systems)
- Use personal pronouns
- Submit in .pdf if the employer might be using an Applicant Tracking System
- It will look like a picture and the system will not be able to read it
Have a basic résumé and want to tailor it to your field of interest or application? Come to the CCPD for help. You should know that advice on résumés varies by industry and changes as fast as the job market is changing. CCPD staff members sometimes use the Basic Résumé Review Rubric (120 KB PDF Document) to offer feedback on a student's basic résumé. Articles below offer up-to-date, wide-ranging, and sometimes-conflicting advice from industry professionals:
The CCPD Cover Letter Guide (460 KB PDF Document) includes information on creating cover letters as well as a job description and cover letter written specifically for that job description. It’s important to create a cover letter that is tailored to the position for which you are applying. Come to the CCPD for help. Articles below offer often-conflicting advice from industry professionals:
- The 8 Cover Letters You Need to Read Now
- A real-life example of a great cover letter (with before and after versions!)
- How to Write a Cover Letter: 31 Tips You Need to Know
Read more tips with K's access to Vault - Career Intelligence
In the United States and Canada, curriculum vitae (Latin for "the course of a life"), or "CV" in common parlance, refers to a document that describes an academic's educational background and professional experience. It is often thought of as something like an academic's résumé, with the important difference that the CV is typically comprehensive (and therefore long) and a résumé is selective (and short). A copy of your CV will frequently be requested when applying for academic jobs, grants, or conferences. For more information, visit Natalie Houston's article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.