Résumés and Cover Letters

A résumé documents your skills and experience relevant to the position you are applying for. Its layout and design should help the reader quickly scan the page and understand how you are qualified. Typically, the primary purpose of a résumé, cover letter (and portfolio if required), is to be selected for an interview.

Tailor your résumé: Highlight how your skills and experience overlap with the employer’s needs. Carefully review the employment posting, company website, and other resources to understand the qualifications.

Show why your experience matters: Include action phrases that identify relevant skills and accomplishments demonstrated through your experience. Use action verbs and avoid paragraphs.

Make your résumé easy to review: Maintain enough white space to avoid overcrowding and consider bolding words (such as your name, degree, job titles). One page is recommended unless your relevant experience requires a second. Always follow application directions if any are given regarding length.

Show your attention to detail: Check grammar and spelling for accuracy. It should be error-free.

Types of Résumés

For most internships and jobs, your résumé will include some of the sections described in the Résumé Section Details below. Other résumé formats include the artist résumé and the curriculum vitae. These two types of documents have specific uses in the U.S. internship and job search.

Use an artist résumé when applying to submit your art to professional venues (commercial and non-profit galleries, museums, art centers) or when completing applications for grants, residency programs, commissions, and other exhibition opportunities, use the artist résumé format.

In the U.S., curriculum vitae “CV” is used to describe a document commonly requested for higher education and research-related positions. A U.S. CV tends to be longer than a résumé and emphasizes areas such as research, teaching, exhibitions, awards, grants, service, presentations, and publications. Outside of the U.S., a “CV” is more like a U.S. résumé. Information on expectations by country is available in GoinGlobal.


Email address
Phone number
Web presence (if applicable, e.g., link to portfolio

*Location: A street address historically has been included, however today some applicants choose not to. Preference also varies amongst employers. Including it is up to you.

Options: 1) include your full street address, 2) include only City, State or City, State, Zip Code 3) omit address.


In reverse chronological order list universities where you have earned a degree. For each, include degree and major, university, and graduation (month, year).

You can also include information such as Minors, GPA, study abroad, languages, scholarships/ academic honors, and related coursework (if you create a separate section for any of these do not repeat under education).


Master of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon, expected June 20xx

Bachelor of Science in Art and Technology, University of Oregon, expected June 20xx

  • Computer and Information Technology minor
  • Study abroad in Rome, Italy, summer 20xx


Select experiences to include that demonstrate skills relevant to the job. These experiences can be paid or unpaid: employment, internships, volunteer, leadership activities, etc. Include your position title, name of organization, city and state, dates (months/years). Describe each experience by creating brief action phrases that focus on skills demonstrated and results achieved.

Your action phrases should highlight transferable skills (those that are used in a variety of settings) and skills specific to your career field. Avoid using “I” and instead begin phrases with action verbs. Make the phrases easy to read quicky; avoid lengthy paragraphs and consider using bullets. When writing phrases ask yourself who, what, how, and why to help you identify details and impact. Include numbers when possible to show level of responsibility.


Outreach Intern, Arts for All, Portland, OR, Jan 20xx-present

  • Developed relationships with 25 local arts community centers; presented to each executive staff on strategies to bolster their community engagement
  • Managed logistics including venue selection, catering, and invitations for fundraising gala with 350+ attendees
  • Trained and supervised team of 12 volunteers for gala



Typically, this is the first section after your contact information and provides a brief description of your abilities, qualities, experience, and achievements relevant to the position for which you are applying. It might also include the type of work you are pursuing (objective).


Relevant skills and projects developed through coursework can be listed in a separate section with a title such as Academic Highlights, Academic Projects, Studios, Research, or Design Projects. This can be a useful section if your career-specific knowledge and skills have been demonstrated primarily through your academics rather than volunteer or employment.


List skills relevant to the position you are applying for, e.g., computer knowledge, languages, design skills, craft skills. This can be a succinct way to highlight skills needed for the job.


If you have participated in activities that you did not list in the Experience section but would like to include in your résumé, consider adding a section with a header that reflects the content, e.g., Activities, Involvement, Leadership, Community Service.


Awards, honors, scholarships, or other recognition you have received.


Interests can show diverse skills and knowledge and can highlight your fit with an opportunity that would otherwise not be apparent through your experience and education. This section is often placed towards the bottom of the résumé.


  • References are usually needed for applications, but they do not need to be placed on the résumé. Instead, use the space on your résumé to promote your skills and experience.
  • Typically, references are previous or current supervisors, faculty, or others who can positively describe your skills and performance related to your work.
  • When listing references, include their name, job title, organization, phone, and email, and optionally, their relationship to you, e.g., current supervisor.
  • Ask references for permission before providing their information to an employer.



Writing a Cover Letter

Prepare Before Writing - know yourself, the position, and the organization. Study the posting (if available). What does the employer want? Review the qualifications carefully. Compare these qualifications to what you have to offer and identify the overlap. Identify examples of how you have demonstrated these qualifications. Your examples will show proof of your skills. These examples might come from class projects, internships, leadership, volunteer, or other experiences. Also, research the organization. How does its mission, culture, services, and projects align with your interests and values?

Be promotional. Cover letters are a marketing tool to show the employer why you are a strong candidate. Explain your interest in the specific organization and highlight your most relevant skills and experience.

Show your personality and enthusiasm. Use an active voice and a tone that matches with that of your audience.

Make It Easy for an Employer to Select You for an Interview. Tailor each letter to the position and organization. While this approach takes time, it will demonstrate to the employer why they should schedule an interview with you. Focus on what you can do for the employer; know what the employer wants and clearly outline why you meet their needs.

Additional Tips

  • Cover letters typically do not exceed one page
  • Avoid over-used phrases and clichés
  • Cut extraneous words; keep sentences and paragraphs short
  • Check for coherence and readability; read your letter aloud
  • Be the employer; would you be interested in you?
  • Ensure it is error-free.

The following is an example of formatting for a cover letter that is attached to an email or uploaded for an application. If you send a cover letter in the body of an email, begin with the salutation.

Consider using the same formatting for your cover letter contact information that is used for your résumé.

Your name
City, State, Zip code
Phone Number
Email address
Web presence (optional)


Name of individual you are writing to
Individual’s job title
Company name
City, State Zip code

Dear (name of individual):
You can use the recipient’s first and last name. An alternative is to use a title such as Ms. but be careful not to assume gender.

Introductory Paragraph:

Use this paragraph to tell the reader why are contacting them, e.g., the title of the position you are applying to. You can mention mutual acquaintances, the name of a person who referred you, or any previous contact you have had with the individual. Describe why you are interested in the work, and either in this paragraph or elsewhere in the letter, describe why you are interested in their organization specifically. You can also provide an overview of the skills and experience you offer that are relevant to the opportunity; you will elaborate on this information in the body paragraphs.

Body Paragraphs:

Elaborate on details about what you have to offer the employer (your skills, experience, knowledge, expertise, and work characteristics/qualities). Prior to writing, identify 2-3 key qualifications of the position (review the position description) and how your skills and experience match with these qualifications. Next, identify a strong example of you demonstrating each qualification. These examples might come from classes, employment, co-curricular activities, etc. Use these qualifications and examples as the basis for these paragraphs. Avoid putting all this information into one paragraph. Use multiple shorter paragraphs to make the letter easier to review quickly.

Conclusion Paragraph:

Reiterate your interest in the opportunity and thank the reader for their time. Indicate that you look forward to the next step of the process, e.g., “I look forward to an opportunity to meet with you and discuss the position and my qualifications.”

Sincerely (or another closing),

Your name