Resumes & Cover Letters
Having a well-written resume and cover letter is essential in the job search process and can help you land an interview for your dream job. To show employers that you are an ideal candidate, these documents highlight the qualifications and experiences that are most relevant for your desired position.
To gain detailed tips and valuable information on resume and cover letter writing, visit the CDC Events page for upcoming resume and cover letter workshops.
Interested in having your resume and cover letter critiqued? Learn about the CDC’s drop-in advising and career counseling services.
The main purpose of the resume is to obtain a job interview. To accomplish this goal, your resume helps to convey how your education, work experience, involvement in organizations and other qualifications match those identified in the job description.
Resume Writing Basics
The following recommendations will help you effectively communicate your qualifications to an employer.
Start your resume with your name and contact information
List your name, phone number and email at the top of the page. You may also include a link to an online portfolio, such as your LinkedIn profile.
Showcase your educational background
Include the name of the universities and colleges from which you will or have received a degree, credential, or certificate. Make sure to include your full degree title, major, and expected graduation date (month and year of graduation). You may also highlight any academic honors that you have received (e.g., President’s List or Dean’s List).
Use a chronological format
Chronological resumes list experiences in order from most recent to least recent. This is the format preferred by employers because it is simple and easy to understand.
Do not simply list responsibilities on your resume. Instead use bullet points to describe your accomplishments from projects, employment experiences, and internship opportunities. Focusing on what you have achieved will help prospective employers see the value that you will bring to their organization.
Use strong action verbs
Action verbs should be used throughout your resume to sell yourself and promote your accomplishments. Action words give energy to your resume. Sell, don’t just tell! For ideas, check out this list of sample action verbs for your resume.
Keep your resume neat in appearance
Use a font style that is easy to read, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Font size should be 10 – 12 point for the body of the resume and can be slightly larger for section headers. Margins can be adjusted between a half-inch to one inch all around. Unless you have over 10 years of experience or are applying to a particular position that requires a detailed resume (e.g., federal government jobs), keep your resume to one page! Make sure formatting is consistent throughout the resume. Keep information honest, clear, and concise.
Tailor your keywords to be Applicant Tracking System (ATS) friendly
To help narrow the applicant pool, many corporations use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan resumes. ATS is a human resources software that allows organizations to filter, sort, and rank applicant resumes. To land at the top of their list, it is important for you to have a well formatted resume which includes appropriate keywords that match the job description.
- Proofread carefully, paying attention to spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style
- Save your documents as a PDF to preserve your formatting
- Follow the submission instructions carefully
- Learn about the CDC's drop-in advising services to have your resume reviewed
- Visit the CDC Events page to see upcoming resume writing workshops
The following resume samples are intended to provide you with ideas that you can incorporate into your own resume. Don't feel the need to follow any sample exactly - use whatever elements you find helpful for your unique combination of experiences.
Freshman Resume Samples
As a freshman, you may showcase your previous involvement in high school clubs, sports, and volunteer work. You may also highlight more recent experiences in college (e.g., involvement in student organizations, part-time jobs, class projects).
Resume Samples by College
While the samples below are geared towards specific colleges, it's often helpful to view samples outside your own college for additional ideas on formatting and content.
College of the Arts
College of Business
College of Education
College of Engineering
Curriculum Vitae (CV) Samples
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a more detailed version of a resume highlighting your qualifications and relevant experience. CV's are often required when applying for positions in academia/research or when applying to graduate and professional schools. A CV may be several pages long.
The cover letter is your introduction to a prospective employer and is not simply a summary of your resume. It allows you to go into more depth about specific skill sets and experiences that are valuable for the employer. To make a great first impression, use the job description to tailor your cover letter to the specific position for which you are applying.
Cover Letter Outline
Email Address | Phone Number
Employer’s Name (if known)
Employer’s Position Title (if known)
Dear Hiring Manager (or name of employer, if available):
Name the position for which you are applying and how you learned of the opening or organization. If an individual made you aware of the opening, be sure to use their name and affiliation. Example: "Dr. Jane Kwan at CSULB suggested I forward my resume in response to your posting for a Research Assistant." To strengthen the first paragraph, include why you are interested in the organization or position. Referencing a particular product, service, or population that the organization serves will show them that you’ve done your homework.
The body paragraph(s) describes what you bring to the table and why the employer should hire you. Discuss qualifications of greatest interest to the employer based on the job description, using positive statements about specific skills and experiences. To do so, provide an example of the skill or experience from previous work/internship, volunteer or academic experience and mention any specialized training that may increase employability.
Reiterate your interest in the position and refer to your enclosed resume. Close by inviting employers to contact you if they would like to meet and discuss your qualifications in more detail, and include your phone number and email address.
Sample Cover Letters
The sample cover letters below are examples of how you can convey your interest and qualifications to an employer. Make sure to use the job description as your guide and to incorporate your own writing style.
Tips for a Professional Cover Letter
Follow the tips below to ensure that your cover letter is polished and professional.
You may use the same header from your resume (i.e., name, email, phone number) if you would like to create consistency between your documents. Address the letter to a specific person whenever possible. Sometimes you will need to contact the employer's office to determine to whom the letter should be addressed. Give care and attention to spelling and grammar, including the spelling of names.
Keep the cover letter to one page, 8½" x 11" document size. Use a standard business letter layout or use the same header as your resume. Your cover letter should be in the same font as your resume, ranging from 10 to 12 point font size.
Submitting a Cover Letter
When submitting a job application, some employers may only require a resume while others may also request a cover letter. If an employer is requesting a resume but has an option to attach additional documents, it would be wise to attach a cover letter. Keep in mind that every contact you have with the employer, including your cover letter, serves as material for their evaluation of you as a candidate. This is your one chance to make a great first impression!
When submitting your documents through email, use a clear subject line, such as "Marketing Assistant Posting – Resume of [Your Name]". In the body of the email, you will have two options. One option is to attach both your resume and cover letter as documents with a brief note in the body of your email. Alternatively, you may paste the content of your cover letter into the body of the email and attach your resume.