Resumes, CVs and Cover Letters

Resumes are intended to summarize your skills and experiences, rather than be a long drawn out list of explanations. Often students want to be as comprehensive as possible in their resume on the chance that the employer will find something relevant in a long list of skills and experiences. But most employers do not have the time to read through resumes in great detail. Employers typically spend less than a minute looking over a resume. Click on the topics below to learn more about different aspects of your resume.

RESUME WRITING

A resume provides a CLEAR, CONCISE, CONSISTENT and CUSTOMIZED summary of your background that should inspire the employer to want to meet you.

Clear
  • Write in present tense for experiences you are currently doing
  • Use reverse chronological order within each section
  • Dates should be in month/year (September 2024 or Sep 2024)
  • Allow for white (blank) space to exist in between your sections — your document has to be readable
Concise
  • Use a variety of strong action verbs to start your impact statements
  • Use acronyms carefully; is the acronym known to your intended audience?
  • Impact statements should be 1 – 2 lines
Consistent
  • Apply bold, italics and underlining consistently
  • Be consistent with capitalization and punctuation
  • Margins should be between 0.5 – 1 inch
  • Use the SAME font type and s
    • Only your name should be slightly larger!
Customized
  • Your resume should demonstrate the skills and experiences related to the job you are applying for
  • Include language in your resume that is used in the job posting

Resume sections represent common categories that employers look for when scanning a resume.

The only section that every student will include on their resume is the Education section. Every other section is dependent on your experiences and want you choose to incorporate on your resume. You want to use headings that best highlight your own experiences.

Education
  • Institution, location
  • Degree, Minor
  • Expected Grad Date
  • GPA
  • Coursework
  • Study Abroad Experience
Skills
  • Computer
  • Certifications
  • Languages
  • Fabrication
  • Training
  • Lab Equipment
Experience
  • Work
  • Internships
  • Projects
  • Team
  • Independent
  • Academic
  • Research
  • Leadership
  • Volunteer
Other
  • Activities
  • Professional Associations
  • Awards / Honors
  • Publications
  • Conference Presentations
  • Objective – Explains Your Intent
  • Summary – Overview of skills and experience related to a targeted role
  • Demonstrate required transferable skills
  • Provide evidence of technical qualifications (degree, computer skills, certifications, machining / fabrication, etc.)
  • Highlight accomplishments, contributions, and problems solved
  • Showcase non-technical jobs, extracurricular activities, and other unique experiences
  • Include your GPA! Most employers will want to know your GPA eventually and expect that it will be on your resume. If your GPA is above a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, you should include it. It may even be a good idea if it is under 3.0. Contact the ECRC to speak with a Career Advisor if you have questions regarding your personal GPA for the best advice for your situation.

Recruiters quickly scan resumes looking for evidence of your skills, abilities, and achievements related to their hiring needs.

The 20-second scan represents the time it takes a recruiter to decide whether to pursue or pass on your resume.

Personal information such as UMID, photos, icons, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or marital status.



IMPACT STATEMENTS

Create concise, action-oriented achievement (impact) statements that demonstrate your skills to perform the job. For each of your experiences, ask yourself:

  • How did I contribute to the group, organization, or team?
  • How did the organization benefit from the work I did?
  • What was the result or outcome of my effort? What impact did I have on the projects I was a part of?
  • Can I quantify my impact?

Part Time Job: Retail Clerk

Before:

  • Assisted customers with merchandise questions

After:

  • Studied store layout and merchandise placement in order to assist with frequent customer inquiries

Course Project

Before:

  • Worked in a group to research knee joint replacements

After:

  • Researched the history, physicalities, and development of knee joint replacements to identify an opportunity to improve implant functionality with four other team members

Internship

Before:

  • Designed the architecture and specifications for electromechanical hardware-in-the-loop test bench for Electronic Power Steering (EPS)

After:

  • Designed the architecture and specifications for electromechanical hardware-in-the-loop test bench for Electronic Power Steering (EPS) to ultimately reduce dependence on in-vehicle testing

APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used by many companies to process job applications and manage the hiring process. They are designed to save recruiters time by making applicant information easily accessible and digitally searchable. ATS allow recruiters to sift through the thousands of resumes they may receive utilizing various filters that they have identified to be important. How can you ensure that your resume makes it through this system and into the hands of a recruiter? Keep the following tips in mind:

Keep Your Resume Format Simple
  • Stick to standard resume formatting — avoid fancy fonts, logos, symbols, and shading.
  • Use single-column layouts. There are several ATS that fail at reading multi-column resumes. If your education and work experience are side-by-side, the ATS might interpret your work experience as part of your education.
  • Use familiar section headings such as Education, Experience, Skills, etc.
  • Do not include images, pictures, diagrams, or tables.
  • Be consistent in the formatting within each section of your resume
Meet the Qualifications
  • If you think you meet the qualifications described by the employer, your resume should detail that evidence.
  • Customize your resume using keywords described in the job posting. Don’t go overboard repeating keywords; 2-3 times will suffice.
  • Utilize acronyms carefully. Consider using the spelled-out form followed by the acronym, then the acronym only if repeated.
  • Do not force soft skills (communication, teamwork, etc.) into your resume by merely listing them. They mean little without evidence. Instead, try to convey these skills through your achievements.
Follow Applicant Directions
  • Complete the online application process in the manner that is requested. Any deviation from what is required can be a reason to filter you out!
  • Avoid skipping sections by using the phrase “see resume.” While it may seem redundant to enter the exact information from your resume, some ATS use these fields to execute the search or ranking of your background.

THE CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)

Outside of the United States, a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a commonly used document that is similar to a resume in the United States (US). In the US, however, a CV is a job search document that provides extensive information on an applicant’s qualifications and background, often with a focus on academic or research related experiences. Whereas a resume should be limited to one or two pages, a CV may be many pages in length. When applying for jobs, pay attention to the language the employer uses to determine if a CV or a resume may be appropriate for a particular position.

A CV is most often used by PhD candidates. The CV is frequently used for applying to positions in academia, national laboratories, or research focused organizations. PhD candidates who are applying for positions in industry may choose to utilize a resume instead of a CV. For most bachelor’s and master’s degree students, a resume is often more appropriate than a CV.

CVs are highly personalized depending on the candidate and the type of positions to which the candidate is applying. Be sure to customize the content and arrange the sections in the order that makes the most sense for your situation. Here are some common sections to include in a CV:

Education
  • List your degrees in reverse chronological order.
  • Include: Institution and location; Degree; Graduation date; Minors, concentrations, certificates, or areas of specialization
  • Optional (when relevant for research or academic positions): Dissertation or title of thesis, Advisor’s name
Experience
  • This section is one of the most important on your CV. The specifics will depend on the individual candidate, but this could include work and/or research experience. Note that if you have a significant experience that was of a long duration, you may have a lot of relevant information about it you’d like to communicate on your CV. Instead of a long list of bullet points under one experience, consider dividing the bullet points into themes or sub-projects under that experience.
  • Include: Name of organization and location; Title of position; Dates; Description of your responsibilities
Projects
  • This could include academic projects, independent projects, as well as any related student project teams
Teaching Experience
  • This is an especially valuable section if you are interested in a career in academia
Publications and Presentations
  • Depending on how many presentations or publications you have, you may want to list Select Publications based on relevance and/or consider dividing into categories
Activities
  • In addition to extracurricular activities, be sure to include membership in any professional associations and service or leadership experiences
Skills
  • Highlight your technical skills and language skills in this sections
Awards, Honors, and / or Recognition
  • Depending on how many presentations or publications you have, you may want to list Select Publications based on relevance and/or consider dividing into categories
References
  • References may be included as the final page of your CV

COVER LETTERS

Cover letters should not exceed one page in length and should be written for a specific position. Utilizing a generic cover letter to apply to multiple positions is not recommended.

When emailing your cover letter, insert it as page one of your resume and identify this in your brief email. Your email can simply state that you are interested in a specific position, you appreciate their consideration, and attached is your resume and cover letter.


Generative AI tools can assist in crafting and reviewing job search documents like resumes, CVs, and cover letters. The ECRC’s Generative AI Guide shares best practices for utilizing Generative AI, as well as sample prompts. It is crucial to review any results provided by Generative AI for accuracy.


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