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Career Research

Prepare to put your best foot forward with potential employers!

Writing Resumes, Cover Letters and Lists of References

Answer a few easy questions to help you get started with the right information.

1. Have you ever created a resume before?

  • Yes - See the Industry Specific Resume tab
  • No

2. Are you attempting to apply for a specific position/internship/field?

3. What type of resume do you want to make? (See the Types of Resumes below.)

Resumes differ based on your level of work experience and will continuously change over time.

Explore the resume template offerings included in the Microsoft Office Word program.

Samples based on experience level:

Undergraduate

Advanced/Later College/Graduate

Veteran/Adult Learner Student Resume:

Types of Resumes


Chronological: The chronological resume format is most commonly used by college students. In a chronological resume, you format your experiences chronologically, most recent first. Employers are familiar with the chronological format and often prefer it. - Georgetown University, Cawley Career Education Center

Sample Resume

Functional: A demonstration of how to organize your work experiences chronologically under functional categories. For example, in the “Experience” section of your resume, you might have two sub-sections, such as “Finance Experience,” and “Legal Experience.” - Georgetown University, Cawley Career Education Center

Sample Resume

Customize Your Resume(s)

Resumes should always be customized to match the job description you are applying for as much as possible. Consequently, this will necessitate changes each time you apply for a new position. Different industries also have different expectations for resumes when it comes to formatting and information included. 

Click for: General tips for customizing your resume.

This section includes tips and resume samples that are industry-specific. For more examples, Google the job description or position titles you are planning to apply for with the phrase "resume sample". 

Cover Letters

Cover Letters remain an essential part of any job hunt. Even if an application lists a cover letter as an optional document, it's best to assume it never is. Cover letters are a separate document from your resume and they should not be uploaded togeteher. Cover letters help you accomplish several things:

  • It gives you additional space to customize your application to better fit the job description you are applying for.
  • It helps you demonstrate your brand and what you can bring to this company. What you can do for them.
  • It demonstrates that you can communicate clearly and effectively.
  • It's an easy way for employers to weed out those who are too lazy to take that extra step.

Cover letters should always be customized, along with your resume, to fit each position you are applying for. A good way to get started is by researching different cover letter styles for the industries/fields you are interested in working in. Here are some links to help you format a basic cover letter and well as more information about the various types of cover letters;

Types of Cover Letters

How to Format a Cover Letter

Review the tabs on the left, under Cover Letter Format: How to Choose the Best Font and Size for Cover Letters

This is your chance to use a more narrative style to illustrate why you would be a good fit for the company you are applying to work for. You want your cover letter to make a strong positive first impression so they will want to meet you and get to know even more about you. 

8 Powerful Ways to Start a Cover Letter (With Examples)

Simple Steps for Writing an Impressive Cover Letter

Microsoft Office offers numerous resume templates in Word. Again, the style and format will somewhat depend on the field you are applying for, but there are some basic tips to remember for cover letters that go with your resume and job application. 

  • A cover letter should be only 1 page
  • Avoid using a lot of complex formatting, colors, and wild fonts.
  • Always include "references available upon request" in your closing paragraph.
  • Include a handwritten signature for hard copy letters and scan it into a .pdf so you have a digital version.
  • Proofread, proofread, and then get someone else to proofread it.

How to Format a Cover Letter With Examples

Reference Lists

There are two types of Reference Lists, Professional and Personal/Character. They are separate documents. Though you may not use them to apply for every job, it is essential that you maintain these lists for several reasons. It is also important to note that you should not provide these lists to potential employers unless they are requested or are required as part of the application process. You should always mention that they are "available upon request" in your cover letter. 

Guidelines for a Professional Reference List:

  • 3 - 5 people you have known in a business, employment, or academic capacity
  • These people cannot live with you or be closely related to you
  • They need to have known you for 1 year or more, preferably 3+ years
  • They cannot be peers (classmates, coworkers at your level, friends, etc...) They must be professionals at a higher level than you. Supervisors, Managers, or Faculty. It is acceptable if they are not your direct supervisor, as long as they are not your peer.
  • You must notify and ask permission to include them on your list of references, preferably each time you begin applying for jobs.

Guidelines for a Personal/Character Reference List:

  • 3 - 5 people you have known in a business, employment, or academic capacity
  • These people cannot live with you or be closely related to you
  • They need to have known you for 3 years or more, preferably 5+ years
  • They can be long-time friends, employees, coworkers, mentors, distant family members who do not live with you or share your last name. 
  • You must notify and ask permission to include them on your list of references, preferably each time you begin applying for jobs.

Helpful Links with additional tips:

Creating a Reference List for a Potential Job

How to Write a Resume Reference List (With Examples)