Resume & Cover Letter

Resume

A resume is a concise, factual document that highlights relevant education, qualifications, and experiences. It should be well organized, free of errors, and succinct. The goal of a resume is to obtain an interview, at which point you can expand upon your experiences. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to resume writing. Please use the following information as a guide and connect with Career Services at uaa_career@alaska.edu for further support.

Layout and Design:

  • Templates are a great source of inspiration, but we recommend you start with a plain Microsoft Word document (download Microsoft Student for free), as templates often are hard to personalize and have a tendency to distort. 
  • Use easy-to-read, colored font minimally (e.g. headers, or position titles only). 
  • Do not include any graphics, photos, etc. 
  • Final resumes should be submitted as a PDF (download Adobe Reader free) document. To ensure the document is compatible with computerized screen readers, make sure that you can copy and paste all text from the PDF in one selection.
  • References should not be included on the resume. 

Length:

  • Resumes are best kept to one page when you are in the early stages of your career, or when you’re starting a new career path and have limited related experience. 
  • Resumes may extend beyond one page when you have extensive related work experience.  
  • Multiple page resumes should include a last name and page number at the top of each page. 

Font:

  • Choose a font style that is easy to read (i.e. Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Calibri) and use this font consistently throughout the entire document. 
  • The majority of the text should be sized between 10 - 12 font. Headers may be slightly larger, but shouldn’t exceed 16 pt font.

Not all resumes will contain each section summarized below. Schedule an appointment with a Career Services staff member for an individualized review.

Heading: 

  • Use a larger font size (14-16) and boldface text.
  • Include name, preferred name (optional), and professional contact information (e.g. phone and email). You may include an address, but should list city and state only. 
  • Consider including a LinkedIn or Handshake profile URL. 
  • If you work in a creative industry, consider adding links to your professional social media, website, or digital portfolio. 

Summary or Objective: 

A summary is a succinct, 3-5 sentence synopsis of your professional and educational background. This should include relevant certifications obtained, relevant experiences, and hard and soft skills. 

Example: “Enthusiastic engineering student with strong work ethic seeking an internship with a local Alaskan engineering firm for summer 20XX. Offering leadership experience, solid organizational skills, and innovative thinking to advance development of current and future products. Proficient in MS Word and Excel; Solidworks and CAD; experienced in soldering.”

An objective is a quick, one sentence explanation introducing yourself and the position or industry you are applying for. UAA Career Services recommends the use of a summary rather than an objective statement. 

Example: “Senior engineering student seeking an internship with a local Alaskan engineering firm for summer 20XX.”

Work Experience: 

Work experience can be listed as one section or divided out into multiple sections (e.g. Internship Experience, Coursework Experience, Related Experience, Other Work Experience). 

  • Each experience should include position title, company, and dates of employment. 
  • List each experience in reverse chronological order, with the most recent on top.
  • Use 2-6 bullet points to list work completed, relevant experience, and skills used in the position. 
  • Do not list your entire work history, but focus on relevant accomplishments and position duties. 
  • Start each bullet point with a strong action verb, using present tense for a current position and past tense for a previous role.
  • Do not use any personal pronouns such as “I”, “me”, “my”, etc. 
  • Focus on your accomplishments more than your position’s duties. Quantifying your work by using numerical data/measurements helps to elevate your experiences. 

Example: “Supervised a diverse team of 20 full-time employees.”

Education:

  • List education in reverse chronological order, including educational programs you are currently enrolled in, with an anticipated completion date. 
  • Include the degree received, major, minor if applicable, institution name, and completion date (month/year).
  • Only list high school or GED if specifically stated as a requirement for the position. 
  • Optionally list GPA if 3.0 or greater. 

Coursework Experience: 

This is an optional section for those with limited traditional work experience or for those whose educational background shows greater career readiness for the desired job. Limit this section to three courses, listing only the most relevant experience.   

  • Follow the work experience formatting and writing guidelines. 
  • Include the course title, month/year the course was completed. 
  • Highlight relevant experience gained in the course, knowledge gained, or skills learned. Use 2-6 bullet points to highlight relevant experience or knowledge gained, and learned skills. 
    • Be sure to write what you did, do not copy and paste the course description.

Certifications:

This section includes certifications that are not typically obtained through post-secondary education (e.g. Lean Six Sigma, BLS, CPR, ServSafe, OSHA). 

  • Include certification title, name of certifying body, and date received. 

Community and Campus Involvement: 

  • Follow the work experience formatting and writing guidelines. 
  • Include position or title, organization, and dates of involvement. 
  • For those with limited traditional work experience, a short (1-3) bulleted list of accomplishments and experiences gained may be included.

Skills: 

In this section highlight any hard and soft skills that are relevant to the position. 

  • This section should include 2-6 skills with an emphasis on hard skills specific to the position.
  • Be specific in your proficiency level by using a quantifier (e.g. basic, advanced, expert).

Awards:

Awards and recognition from work, academics, or community activity may be listed here, or within the related section (e.g. education, community involvement, work experience). 

  • Include the name of the award, organization who provided the award, and date received. 

It is recommended that each bullet point under work experience begin with a strong action verb. This showcases what you have accomplished within the role. Here is a list of action verbs to utilize throughout the resume.

Career & Self Development:

  • Achieved
  • Developed
  • Displayed
  • Established
  • Gained
  • Identified
  • Leveraged
  • Maintained
  • Participated

Communication:

  • Advocated
  • Briefed
  • Clarified
  • Composed
  • Documented
  • Instructed
  • Interpreted
  • Negotiated 
  • Presented
  • Persuaded
  • Translated

Critical Thinking:

  • Analyzed
  • Calculated
  • Conceptualized
  • Customized
  • Deciphered
  • Discerned
  • Evaluated
  • Improved
  • Increased
  • Operated
  • Organized
  • Researched
  • Translated
  • Transformed

Equity & Inclusion:

  • Acknowledge
  • Addressed
  • Advocated
  • Championed
  • Collaborated
  • Contributed
  • Demonstrated
  • Diversified
  • Elevated
  • Embraced
  • Fostered
  • Identified
  • Increased
  • Mentored
  • Organized
  • Transformed

Leadership: 

  • Advised 
  • Arranged
  • Championed
  • Coordinated
  • Cultivated
  • Delivered
  • Directed
  • Endorsed
  • Enforced
  • Ensured
  • Facilitated
  • Formed
  • Fostered
  • Guided
  • Headed
  • Hired
  • Implemented
  • Influenced
  • Initiated
  • Inspired
  • Mentored
  • Modeled
  • Operated
  • Organized
  • Produced
  • Reconciled
  • Supervised
  • Trained

Professionalism:

  • Achieved
  • Acted
  • Demonstrated
  • Maintained
  • Modeled
  • Prepared
  • Prioritized
  • Organized

Teamwork & Collaboration:

  • Assisted
  • Assembled
  • Collaborated
  • Collected
  • Contributed
  • Cooperated
  • Coordinated
  • Organized
  • Shared
  • Supported
  • Upheld

Technology:

  • Analyzed
  • Assembled
  • Automated
  • Calculated
  • Collected
  • Coded
  • Configured
  • Engineered
  • Formulated
  • Implemented
  • Launched
  • Modified
  • Networked
  • Operated
  • Programed
  • Remodeled
  • Surveyed
  • Troubleshoot
  • Upgraded

Other:

  • Assessed
  • Created
  • Composed
  • Designed
  • Enhanced
  • Established
  • Originated

Cover Letter

While a resume tells the employer what you've done and accomplished, a cover letter convinces them why you're the best candidate (or worth interviewing!). A cover letter is a written narrative that showcases an applicant's personality, individuality, unique and relevant skills, experience, and qualifications. It is an opportunity to provide additional information or expand upon (rather than repeat) information already provided in the resume.

  • Start with a plain Microsoft Word document (download Microsoft student for free), as templates often are hard to personalize and have a tendency to distort.
  • Keep margins between ½ inch and 1 inch all around.
  • Your cover letter and resume should match. Use the same header, font, font size, and formatting for both. 
  • Include the full contact information of the employer: contact name, title, organization name, and organization address. 
  • Length should be ⅔ - 1 page, no more than a single page. 
  • Do not include any graphics, photos, etc. 
  • Final cover letters should be submitted as a PDF document. To ensure the document is compatible with computerized screen readers make sure that you can copy and paste all text from the PDF in one selection.
  • Review the position description, and research the employer thoroughly prior to writing a cover letter.
  • Highlight and draw attention to the points in your resume that uniquely qualify you for the position.
  • The letter should be specific and tailored to the position you are applying for. Include keywords and phrases used in the position posting.
  • Write the cover letter in first person, but be careful not to overuse “I”. Vary your sentence structure and use compound sentences. 
  • Showcase the value you will bring to the company by continuing to relate your experience back to the company needs. 
  • Back-up what you say. If you state that you are interested in the company, describe the reasons. If you say you have excellent customer service, provide an example. 

Addressing the Reader: 

  • Address the letter to a specific person or hiring manager when able.
  • When a specific name is not available, list the recipient as ‘Hiring Manager’, ‘Search Committee’, or ‘Internship Coordinator’. 
  • Avoid using gender specific titles unless absolutely positive about the gender identity for whom you are addressing. 

Example: “Dear Sam Johnson” vs. “Dear Mr. Sam Johnson”

Opening Paragraph: 

  • Begin by stating your enthusiasm for the specific position you are applying to. 
  • Mention by name anyone who referred you to the position, if applicable. 
  • Briefly introduce yourself and explain why you are enthused to apply. A good way to show your enthusiasm is to connect something about your talents or experience to a specific facet of their position description or company attributes.

Body Paragraph(s):

  • This is the bulk of your cover letter and will range between 1-3 paragraphs. 
  • Highlight specific accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to meet the knowledge and skill requirements of the position. Provide direct connections between your experiences and the needs of the position by mimicking keywords and phrases within the job posting. 

Closing Paragraph:

  • Indicate next steps. Will you be reaching out to the employer or will you be waiting for them to schedule an interview?
  • Thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Signature: 

  • Use a business appropriate sign off such as, sincerely, best regards, respectfully. 
  • Tab down 3-4 lines and print your full name. 
  • In the blank space between “sincerely” and your printed name, you will include your signature. This can be your actual signature or a font that resembles a signature.