Résumés and Cover Letters

Résumé Sections | Résumé Formats and Examples | Writing a Cover Letter


The résumé: What is it?

What is it?

  • A résumé is a data sheet documenting your relevant skills and experience.
  • Its layout/design should allow the reader to quickly scan the page and understand how you fulfill the qualifications of the position.
  • Typically, its purpose is to get you an interview.

Writing Tips:

  • If you are responding to a posting, carefully review it for the skills and experience desired. Identify key words to use in your résumé.
  • Use action verbs and avoid paragraphs. Be brief yet include enough detail to clearly communicate your strengths.
  • Check grammar and spelling for accuracy. It needs to be error free.
  • One page is strongly recommended unless your relevant experience requires a second page.


Résumé Sections

Include your contact information (typically at the top): name, phone number, email address, and web presence if applicable, e.g., link to your portfolio. A street address historically has been included; some applicants choose not to. Preference for an address vary amongst employers. Including it is up to you. Options: include full street address, or part of your address (city, state or city, state, zip code), or omit address.


Education

  • List pertinent college/university educational history in reverse chronological order. Include degree, major, institution, and expected date (month, year) of graduation.
  • Optional: Minors, GPA, study abroad, languages, scholarships/academic honors, related coursework (if you create separate sections for any of these, e.g., “Honors,” don’t list them under education).

Example:

Bachelor of Arts, Art History, University of Oregon, expected June 20xx

  • Minors in Dance and Political Science
  • Study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, 20xx


Experience

  • Select from all of your relevant experience, paid or unpaid: employment, internships, volunteer, leadership activities, etc.
  • Include position title, name of organization, location (city and state), dates (months/years or only years).
  • When describing each experience, focus on skills demonstrated and accomplishments/results.
  • Avoid using the pronoun “I”; begin phrases with descriptive action verbs.
  • Action phrases should be easy to skim; avoid lengthy paragraphs and consider using bullets.

Example:

Ceramics Studio Assistant, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 20xx–present

  • Prioritized and scheduled firing of incoming pieces for 150+ students
  • Followed complex safely protocol while working kilns
  • Created new display of glazes to assist students in efficiently selecting colors


Additional Sections to Consider

Summary/Profile: Can include a description of your abilities, qualities, experience, and achievements relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Academic Highlights: Relevant skills and experience demonstrated in classes could be listed in a separate section, e.g., Academic Highlights, Academic Projects, Studios, Research, Design Projects.

Skills: List skills relevant to the position, e.g., technical/computer knowledge, languages, design skills.

Activities: Community or university activities not mentioned in the Experience section.

Honors: Awards, honors, scholarships, or other academic or scholarly recognition you’ve received.

Interests: Interests can show diverse skills/knowledge and can highlight your fit with an opportunity that would otherwise not be apparent.

References: References typically consist of past or current supervisors, faculty, or advisors who can speak to your skills and performance related to work. Ask each reference for permission before providing their name to an employer. This information might be entered into an online application or in a separate document (rather than on the résumé).


Back to Top


Résumé Formats and Examples

Choose a format based on how you want to promote your relevant skills and experience. The following examples all contain the same content but use different sections and placement of information.

  • Chronological: (most common) Experience is listed in one section from most recent to least recent. Action phrases are included under each position.
  • Functional: (least common) Places action phrases under skill headers rather than positions. This can be helpful for those wanting to downplay job titles or who have gaps in their work history (gaps while you are a student are typically not a problem).
  • Combination: Combines the two formats. Action phrases are listed under each position and positions are grouped under skill headers. This can be a good way to highlight relevant experience and skill sets.

The artist résumé is used by people pursuing work as fine artists.

  • Artist: Used for submitting proposals to professional venues (commercial and non-profit galleries, museums, art centers) and completing applications for grants, residency programs, commissions, and other exhibition opportunities. Visit the College Art Association website to learn more information about the artist résumé.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) and International Résumés

In the United States, the term “CV” is used to describe a document commonly requested in applications 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.

Countries outside of the U.S. often refer to a U.S. résumé as a CV. More information about résumés used in countries other than the U.S. can be found in GoinGlobal.


Writing a Cover Letter

Be promotional—the product is you!

Cover letters are a marketing tool to demonstrate to an employer why you are a strong candidate for the position. Effective letters explain your interest in the specific organization and identify your most relevant skills and experience. They tend to be more flexible than a résumé in that you can convey aspects of yourself that are more difficult to present in a résumé, e.g., enthusiasm, initiative, interest in the organization, sense of humor, or the ability to write.


Prepare Before Writing

Know yourself and the opportunity/organization. Study the position description (if available). What does the employer want? Compare this to what you have to offer. This overlap will help you outline your letter.


Make It Unique

Every letter should be written for a specific position and organization. Generic form letters do little to demonstrate why you are a good fit with your target audience. While this approach takes time, it will show the employer that you are serious about pursuing the job/internship.


Include “Proof” of Your Skills

Elaborate on your claims. If you write that you offer a particular skill set, provide a specific example that demonstrates this ability. This example might come from your work on a class project or at a job or as a volunteer.


Show Your Enthusiasm!

Use an active voice and enthusiastic tone. Once written, reread the letter. If you sound too passive, apologetic, or indifferent, rewrite the letter to capture the reader’s attention. Engage the reader with your enthusiasm and commitment to the work.


Make It Easy for an Employer to Select You to Interview

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 should 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!

Cover Letter Example

The following is an example of formatting for a cover letter sent as an attachment to an email or uploaded for an application. If you are sending a cover letter in the body of an email, begin with the salutation.

 

cover letter example
Cover letter example pdf


Back to Top