Resume & Application Letters

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Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

In the U.S., a resume is used to apply to most jobs at every level or graduate school to communicate your professional identity and give an account of your professional and educational experiences. A resume highlights your relevant qualifications for a specific role (focused on accomplishments). A resume is written on a 1-page for most job seekers (2 pages maximum; reserved for experienced professionals or grad school applications).

A Curriculum Vitae is used to apply to positions related to academics (college level or beyond), medical, teaching, or research. A CV is also used to apply for admission into graduate programs, fellowships, or internships related to academics. A CV is written to communicate your scholarly identity and provide an extensive listing of all your professional and educational experience (focused on coursework, publications, presentations, research, and teaching experiences). A CV is longer than 2 pages (10 pages maximum; reserved for senior faculty or seasonal professionals).

Three Easy Steps to Draft a U.S. Resume

  1. Look at the job description of the position for which you are applying. Highlight areas in the job description for which you have experience, skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  2. Use the highlighted language to craft your resume using the resume template below. Gather information from the job description to help you complete the profile section.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your resume critiqued by Career Development Center staff.

Helpful Hint 1: Don’t repeat job experience if you have held similar positions. Use different wording or split the experience between jobs. It’s okay to repeat key words if they have been used multiple times in the job description, but don’t overdo it!

Helpful Hint 2: If you are changing careers, use a Relevant Work Experience section and Other Work Experience section. In the Other Work Experience section, focus only on transferable skills as they relate to the position for which you are applying. If necessary, you can also fill space by including course names of relevant coursework.

Helpful Hint 3: If you have very little or no work experience, you may use volunteer experience if it’s consistent. You can also use your experience from classroom research or projects. Any extracurricular activities such as leadership, sports or student club positions can be included. You can also provide a summary of summer jobs, such as mowing lawns or babysitting, at the end of the experience section. If you still can't fill in the blanks and you don't have a full page, you now know the skills, abilities, knowledge and experience you need to develop to reach your goal.

  • Resume Guide – describes how to create a resume and provides an example.
  • Resume Profile – describes the importance of creating and adding a profile statement to your resume and provides examples.
  • Resume Content – learn how to create dynamic descriptions that draw in recruiters.
  • Resume Template—a resume template in Microsoft Word to help you get started.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – defines applicant tracking systems and how to beat them in your job search.
A US resume includesA US resume DOES NOT include

Contact information:  

Full name, cell phone, email and LinkedIn Profile or links to personal website/blog (optional) 
Title of Position Seeking 

Profile/Power statement 

Skills section 

Education (highest degree first)
GPA (3.5+)
Relevant coursework (optional) 
Research experiences (as applicable) 
Course/independent projects 
Certifications (as applicable) 

Relevant experiences: 
Student leadership 
Volunteer/Community Service 

The following personal information: 
Marital status 
Home country 
International permanent address 
Immigration status

English as a language skill

TOEFL or SAT scores
Grammatical or spelling errors

The Cover Letter

The application letter, also known as a cover letter in the U.S., is written to respond to an announced opening or submitting your resume for consideration. A good letter will complement and concisely expand upon your resume, communicating your fit with the position and organization.

Writing Support

Every resume and cover letter should be free of spelling or grammatical errors before submitting. Have several native English speakers review your resume and cover letter in addition to a career counselor and schedule an appointment with a writing tutor in the Academic Success Center.

Additional Resources

Visit the Career Development Center’s Resume, Cover Letters, CVs & Thank You Letters page.