Resume and Cover Letters
Finding a great job or internship is only half way to landing a position. To get the position, you need to make your application materials the best they can be. Here are some tools to get you started:
Design a resume that highlights your strengths and helps you stand out from the crowd.
A resume is a concise document that summarizes your experience, education, skills, and achievements. Most internships, jobs, academic programs, and grad schools require a resume as part of the application process. Your resume is a way to set yourself apart from other applicants, and answers the question, “Why should we interview you?”
Download the PDF guide below to write or edit your resume, then make an appointment with a career counselor to polish it up. We'll help you make your resume shine!
Cover Letter Guide
Summarize your best assets, show your passion, and persuade the hiring manager to read your resume. A cover letter is a standard professional letter with norms for content and format that are recognized by employers in every ﬁeld. When you apply for a job or internship, you attach your resume to a one-page cover letter that contains three or four short paragraphs. A successful cover letter persuades an employer to look at your resume and grant you an interview.
Download the PDF guide below to write or edit your cover letter!
Recommendation Letter Guide
Prospective employers, graduate schools, and scholarship foundations may ask for one to three letters of recommendation that support your application.
Depending on the application, your recommenders might be professors or staff at your school, employers at jobs or internships, or supervisors of community leadership and volunteer activities. Your recommenders will be asked to comment on how long they have known you and in what capacity; their recommendations will be taken more seriously if they can show they know you well.
Help your recommenders as much as possible, by providing accurate instructions and background information. Read our FAQ below.
Recommendation Letters FAQ
It's important to establish relationships with teachers, supervisors and mentors who are qualified to comment on your academic accomplishments, work habits, personality, and likelihood of success. Even if you're not planning to apply for anything just yet, keep an eye out for suitable recommenders.
You may want to ask a supervisor at the end of a successful internship, or a professor in whose class you did well, if they would be willing to write a letter on your behalf. A recommender might agree to be contacted in the future, or might choose to write a general letter of recommendation right away, for you to keep on file. (See how to store and send letters of recommendation).
Give your recommenders plenty of advance notice. It's not only good manners, but also allows time for composition of a thoughtful letter that can effectively support your application. Asking early also gives you a chance to find another recommender if your first choice is busy, absent, or reluctant.
If you're on campus, make the request in person. That way the professor gets a chance to ask about your goals and plans, and you get a chance to gauge the professor's willingness to write a positive letter. If you've graduated and left the area, you'll need to make the request by phone or in writing. It might be a good idea, especially if it's been a few years since the professor has seen you, to attach a small photo of yourself to your written request.
Ask your recommender if he or she would be willing to write a good (i.e. strong, supportive) letter on your behalf. Don't assume - some people will agree to write letters only for students they know very well, or for students who did well in their classes. Some will not agree to write letters unless they have several weeks' notice, especially at busy times of the year. (Should you decide not to follow through with your application, be sure to let your recommender know immediately.)
Always check in with your recommender several days before the letter is due. Sometimes even the most organized and conscientious recommendation writer will appreciate a reminder. A thank you note is always in order when someone writes a letter on your behalf. Be sure to let the recommender know about the outcome of your application.
Interfolio is an independent company you can use to store letters of recommendation. Their Dossier service is a free, online platform that provides one centralized account where users can collect and manage confidential letters of recommendation and other materials needed for review, funding opportunities, admission to graduate school, jobs in higher education, and other academic and professional opportunities. This allows you to store your reference letters and maintain their confidentiality
When you are ready to have your materials sent to employers, graduate programs, or others, you'll need to upgrade to Dossier Deliver, which allows you to send up to 50 deliveries for a flat annual fee of $48 (as of 2022). regardless of the number of documents included in that delivery.
When requesting a letter of recommendation, it's important to have a conversation with your potential letter writer to discuss your request, and to learn if they feel comfortable writing a strong recommendation for you. Once someone has agreed, you can set up your Interfolio-Dossier account and request a letter of recommendation using Interfolio.
Share the following information with your recommenders:
Your current contact information, so they can reach you if needed.
A reminder of how you and your recommender know one another; classes you took with them, evaluations you got in those classes, paper topics or projects you worked on, etc.
Information about the position/scholarship/graduate program to which you are applying.
A brief description of your goals and plans; your resume; and any information you'd like your recommender to address in the letter (or a phone recommendation(.
A draft of your personal statement or research proposal (for grad school or scholarship applications).