Résumé & Cover Letter Writing

Whether you just need a quick resume review, help tailoring your resume for a specific opportunity, or maybe you need some advice on how to get started, the CDO is here to inspire, educate and equip you with the necessary tools to make your resume stand-out. Your resume is a marketing tool, and its primary function is getting the person who is reading your resume to want to interview you.

For more information, example format, and sample resumes, check out our Resource Guide [pdf].

While every resume is different, here are some guidelines that are important for you to consider: 

Format, Design & Delivery


The standard length of an undergraduate resume is one page. Some special circumstances require two pages, but one page is usually the maximum.


Keep your TOP/BOTTOM margins and LEFT/RIGHT margins consistent. No less than 0.5 and no more than 1.0.

Font Type

Use a professional-looking font such as Calibri, Cambria, Arial, Helvetica, or Garamond.

Font Size

Use 10-12 point font. Your name should be bigger than your text, but no more than 16 point.

Keep it Simple

Don’t go crazy with too many italics, CAPS, bold, underlines, indentations, columns, and all combinations thereof.

Bullet Points

Start each statement with an action verb. Include specific details and quantify your accomplishments (#, $, %).


Divide your resume information into clearly labeled sections. Prioritize the most relevant sections towards the top of your resume.


Laser print your resume on quality 8.5 X 11-inch bond paper that is white or off-white. The CDO provides resume paper.

Email Delivery

  • Turn your resume and cover letter into one PDF file.
  • Create a quick, professional e-mail that states you have attached your resume and cover letter.
  • In the subject line of the e-mail, put information that will easily identify your email, perhaps your name and “resume” – i.e. “John Doe Resume” or position to which you’re applying.

How to Write Cover Letters

A cover letter or letter of interest should always accompany each resume and/or application. It is an essential part of the job search process. This letter introduces you and your resume, explaining both your reasons for writing and your qualifications for the position. The cover letter should be typed in business format and printed on the same color and quality of paper as your resume.

Cover Letter Guidelines

Always Target Your Message

A cover letter that shows how your skills and experience relate to the specific position is more effective than a generic “all-purpose” cover letter.

Highlight Your Accomplishments With Measurable Results

Show how your credentials match the requirements of the job.  Incorporate information that reflects your knowledge of the organization, its industry and relevant issues.  This is the perfect place to “editorialize” about the accomplishments cited in your resume.

Show What You Have to Offer

Make sure you demonstrate how your skills, expertise and past accomplishments can benefit the employer.  This is your opportunity to make yourself more attractive to the employer by showing that you have something the employer can use.  The cover letter is not the place to be self-serving. 

Use Standard Business Protocol

Write clearly and concisely, and check your letter for spelling and grammar.  Employers have disqualified good candidates because the resume was poorly constructed.  Select white or a light colored paper that matches your resume and envelope.

Send Your Letter to a Specific Person

Identify the person who is likely to make the hiring decisions.  It may require resourcefulness and tenacity, but the benefits will outweigh the time and effort.  You may need to make several phone calls to learn the contact’s name, correct spelling and title.

For more information, example format, and sample cover letters, check out our Resource Guide [pdf]