Center for Career and Professional Development

Resumes, Cover Letters and References

Young woman looking at computer

 

The Center for Career and Professional Development has a wide range of books, print handouts, and website references to help you write a resume and cover letter for your job search.

If you would like to have your resume critiqued by a Career Counselor you can schedule an appointment on GradesFirst or come in person to Reid 150 (our entrance is facing the paid lot facing Scott Hall). We also offer opportunities to see our Peer Career Mentors for drop-in hours Monday - Friday from 2:00pm - 4:00pm in our office.

Here are some points to remember before you start a resume:



  • Don't wait until the last minute to do your resume.
    Registered employers search our JobCat database throughout the year for potential employees. Don't miss out on a good job because you didn't have your resume ready.
  • Resume styles have changed in the last 20 years. Make sure you are using the latest format.
    Our office has good examples for entry-level or various career field resumes.
  • Most employers or HR staff only spend about thirty seconds scanning your resume.
    The organization and presentation of your skills and experience are very important. Some large companies have computers doing the initial scan. You will need a different format for computer based scanning.
  • You may need to do multiple versions of your resume if you have different objectives or several career paths.
    Each resume should have the information organized to support your objective.
  • Have someone else read your resume when you are done.
    Our office is always glad to work with individual students to make certain their resumes are in tip-top shape. Don't rely solely on Spell/Grammar Check to catch errors in your resume. We have found some humorous or even embarrassing statements that have passed these checks with flying colors.
  • Use the cover letter to relate your experience and education to the specific job opening or needs of the company.
    You may expand on relevant experiences from your resume or relate something that isn't in the resume but shows how you qualify for this position.


Here are some points to remember while writing your cover letter:



  • Decide your purpose in writing, then plan accordingly. Place the most important items first, supported by facts.
  • Group similar items together in a paragraph, then organize the paragraph in logical relationship to the others. Do the work of organizing your information for the reader.
  • Keep your letters personal, warm, and professional. Avoid being either overly familiar or overly officious in tone, but do remember that business letters are formal, not informal, documents.
  • Say what you mean directly without a lot of verbiage. Demonstrate that you understand the value of the reader's time by being as brief as possible.
  • Write clearly and simply. Avoid jargon and overly complex sentences.
  • Be positive in content, tone, word choice, and expectations. Suggest that you are an optimistic, responsible, productive, and reasonable person.
  • Use active voice and action verbs in your writing.
  • Keep the reader's interest by varying sentence structure and length.
  • Reduce uncertainly and abstraction for the reader by including specific facts.
  • Provide information that reflects the reader's interest. Stress benefits for the reader.


Action Verbs to use in a Resume or Cover Letter:



  • Accomplished
  • Achieved
  • Acted
  • Adapted
  • Addressed
  • Administrated
  • Advanced
  • Advised
  • Allocated
  • Analyzed
  • Answered
  • Appeared
  • Applied
  • Appointed
  • Appraised
  • Approved
  • Arranged
  • Assembled
  • Assessed
  • Assigned
  • Assisted
  • Assumed
  • Attained
  • Audited
  • Authored
  • Awarded
  • Balanced
  • Bought
  • Brought
  • Budgeted
  • Built
  • Calculated
  • Catalogued
  • Chaired
  • Changed
  • Classified
  • Closed
  • Coached
  • Collected
  • Communicated
  • Compiled
  • Compared
  • Completed
  • Composed
  • Computed
  • Condensed
  • Conducted
  • Consolidated
  • Constructed
  • Consulted
  • Contained
  • Contributed
  • Controlled
  • Converted
  • Coordinated
  • Corrected
  • Corresponded
  • Counseled
  • Created
  • Critiqued
  • Cut
  • Dealt
  • Decreased
  • Defined
  • Delegated
  • Demonstrated
  • Described
  • Designed
  • Determined
  • Developed
  • Devised
  • Directed
  • Dispatched
  • Distinguished
  • Distributed
  • Documented
  • Doubled
  • Drafted
  • Earned
  • Edited
  • Educated
  • Eliminated
  • Enabled
  • Encouraged
  • Endorsed
  • Engineered
  • Enlisted
  • Ensured
  • Entered
  • Established
  • Evaluated
  • Examined
  • Executed
  • Expanded
  • Expedited
  • Experienced
  • Experimented
  • Extracted
  • Facilitated
  • Fashioned
  • Filled
  • Finalized
  • Focused
  • Forecast
  • Formulated
  • Founded
  • Gathered
  • Generated
  • Graded
  • Guided
  • Handled
  • Helped
  • Identified
  • Illustrated
  • Implemented
  • Improved
  • Increased
  • Incorporated
  • Influenced
  • Informed
  • Iniatated
  • Innovated
  • Inspected
  • Installed
  • Instituted
  • Instructed
  • Insured
  • Integrated
  • Interpreted
  • Interviewed
  • Introduced
  • Invented
  • Investigated
  • Issued
  • Launched
  • Learned
  • Lectured
  • Led
  • Made
  • Maintained
  • Managed
  • Mapped
  • Marketed
  • Matched
  • Mediated
  • Met
  • Moderated
  • Modified
  • Monitored
  • Motivated
  • Named
  • Negotiated
  • Oibserved
  • Obtained
  • Operated
  • Ordered
  • Organized
  • Originated
  • Overhauled
  • Oversaw
  • Participated
  • Performed
  • Persuaded
  • Planned
  • Predicted
  • Prepared
  • Presented
  • Prioritized
  • Processed
  • Prodcured
  • Produced
  • Programmed
  • Projected
  • Promoted
  • Provided
  • Publicized
  • Published
  • Qualified
  • Quantified
  • Raised
  • Rated
  • Realized
  • Received
  • Recommended
  • Reconsiled
  • Recorded
  • Recruited
  • Redesigned
  • Reduced
  • Referred
  • Regulated
  • Rehabilitated
  • Reinforced
  • Related
  • Remodeled
  • Reorganized
  • Repaired
  • Reported
  • Represented
  • Researched
  • Resolved
  • Responded
  • Restored
  • Restructured
  • Retrieved
  • Revamped
  • Reversed
  • Reviewed
  • Revitalized
  • Saved
  • Scheduled
  • Screened
  • Selected
  • Served
  • Serviced
  • Set
  • Shaped
  • Simplified
  • Sketched
  • Skilled
  • Sold
  • Solved
  • Sported
  • Specified
  • Spoke
  • Staffed
  • Started
  • Simulated
  • Streamlined
  • Strenthened
  • Studied
  • Submitted
  • Substituted
  • Succeeded
  • Summarized
  • Supervidsed
  • Surveyed
  • Systematized
  • Taught
  • Tested
  • Toured
  • Trained
  • Tranacted
  • Translated
  • Traveled
  • Trimmed
  • Tripled
  • Tutored
  • Umpired
  • Unified
  • Updated
  • Upgraded
  • Validated
  • Verified
  • Wrote

10 Tips for Top-Notch References

By Kelli Robinson

"References available upon request" is a statement that can make or break your job offer. Here are 10 tips for assembling a successful reference list.

  1. Ask, don't assume. Ask your references for permission to use their names. Confirm the following:
    • Do the people you include as references actually want to give you a reference?
    • Does their schedule permit time to discuss your qualifications?
    • Most importantly, what kind of reference will they be? When it comes to references, neutral is the same as negative, so ask your contacts to be honest: Can the people you ask give you a positive recommendation?
  2. Let the professionals do the job. Potential supervisors are not interested in hearing friends or relatives talk about how nice you are. They want confirmation for their main objective: Are you going to deliver the duties of the job? Good reference sources include previous supervisors, co-workers, professors, or advisers. Think outside the box: If you voluntarily coordinated an organization's fund-raising effort, the organization's supervisor could be a great reference. It doesn't matter that you weren't paid. 
  3. Avoid name dropping. A reference's name or job title is insignificant compared to the information he or she will provide regarding your strengths and weaknesses. CEO may be a loftier title than supervisor; however, who can better attest to your abilities on a daily basis? 
  4. Provide references with the appropriate tools. Give each reference a copy of your resume, so he or she has a complete picture of your background. Provide a description of the job to which you are applying. Knowing the duties and responsibilities ahead of time will prepare references for questions they may be asked and help them relate your experience to the potential job. 
  5. Alert references to potential phone calls. Contact your references and tell them to anticipate a phone call or e-mail. Tell them the name of the company, and the position for which you interviewed. If you know the name of the person who will check your references, offer that information, too. 
  6. Keep your references informed. Were you offered the job? If so, did you accept? When will you start? 
  7. Thank your references. When you accept a job offer, take the time to write each of your references a thank-you note. They have played a valuable part in your receiving an offer. 
  8. Keep in touch. Don't end contact with your references. Send an e-mail, call or meet them for lunch on occasion. You never know when if and when you may need to call upon them to be references in the future. 
  9. Update your list. Just like resumes become outdated, so do reference lists. As your career builds, keep your reference list up-to-date. 
  10. Return the favor. Your references may have been the deciding factor in your job offer. When you are asked to be a reference, say yes.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

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