Write a Resume & Cover Letter

Crafting an organized, actionable and focused resume and cover letter is crucial for getting a job or internship.


The average employer only spends 15-20 seconds reviewing each resume, so you need to ensure that yours is targeted, error-free and easy to skim.

First you will need to decide which type of resume is appropriate to represent your experience. Before you start writing your chronological or functional resume, determine which sections of information you are going to need to include.

Cover Letters

A cover letter is the primary way to provide an introduction to a potential contact or employer. Your cover letter should:

  • Communicate your accomplishments, skills and experience.
  • Convey your writing style and thought processes.
  • Capture the attention of your reader and compel them to continue reading.

Every time you write a cover letter you should:

  • Identify and customize the letter for a specific position or purpose.
  • Know your audience by thoroughly researching the organization and industry.
  • Express yourself with confidence.
  • Display enthusiasm for the employer, work and position.
  • Avoid opening the letter with “To Whom It May Concern.” Address the person who is hiring for the position if possible or use “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Hiring Committee.”

How We Can Help

  • Meet with a Career Ambassador or Career Coach during drop-in hours to review your resume, cover letter or application for a part-time job, internship or campus leadership position.
  • Schedule an appointment with a Career Coach in Handshake.  Appointments are available in person, online and by Skype.
  • Attend our resume and cover letter workshops to learn how to create a professional resume with polish, professionalism and proper punctuation. These sessions discuss appropriate content and formats and also include a review of the basic structure of cover letters and how to customize your resume and cover letters for each job application.

Changes to Online Resume Critiques

In Fall 2017, the Center for Career Services will be moving to VMOCK, an automated online resume review system. Prior to that time, you can request an online critique by scheduling a virtual appointment with an Exploration Career Coach in Handshake and request an online resume/cover letter critique. Critiqued resumes will be returned by e-mail within five business days. For a deeper review of the critiqued resume, students are encouraged to visit our Resource Room during drop-in consulting hours (Monday-Friday, Academic Year,11:00am-2:00pm; Summer, 11:00am-1:00pm), or schedule an appointment with a career coach in Handshake.  Alumni should call 202.994.6495 to schedule an appointment.

Download Our Guides to Get You Started

Resume & Cover Letter Info & Tips and more helpful guides can be found in the Resources Library in your Handshake profile.