Perfect your resume and cover letter

Having a dynamic resume and cover letter is vital to the employment process. Not only are they the first impression you provide to potential employers, they can help you prepare for interviews and communicate to the employer how your skills, accomplishments, and abilities fit their position.

The Career Services Center at Indiana University Kokomo is here to help you put your best foot forward when searching for employment, starting with a well-written cover letter and resume.

How to write a ‘YES’ resume

The format of resumes vary from person to person based on education, experience, and where you are in your professional career. There’s no specific model for a resume, but there are some guidelines worth following:

  • Start with a first draft and expect to do several revisions.
  • Try to keep your resume 1-2 pages in length.
  • Use clear fonts and keep your design crisp, well-balanced, and pleasing to the eye.
  • Use your complete, legal name – no nicknames – and include your city and state, and phone number.
  • Do tailor your resume to each position you apply for. Different portions of your experience will appeal to different employers.
  • Use brief phrases, not full sentences. Be clear and specific.
  • Use the correct tense. For past jobs: “developed,” “organized,” “initiated.” For a current job: “initiate,” “lead,” “maintain.”
  • List community activities and awards if they enhance your work experiences (demonstrating leadership, organization, etc.).
  • Proofread your final product for correct spelling and punctuation, as well as any grammatical and typographical mistakes.
  • Print your resume on high-quality paper (water bond, cotton, etc. in white or eggshell; sized 8.5 x 11 inches).

Steps to avoid in resume writing include:

  • Do not use abbreviations – and only use professional and technical language when relevant.
  • Do not use odd-sized, bordered, or colored paper.
  • Do not list personal or professional references in your resume; include those on a second document, or provide them when asked.
  • Do not use non-standard fonts or pictures.
  • Do not repeat words and phrases; instead, highlight how those accomplishments cover multiple related areas.
  • Do not italicize.
  • Do not list your GPA or any collegiate honors unless you are a recent graduate and your rank is above a 3.0/4.0.
  • Do not use excessive detail when discussing job experience. Keep your entries short.

Cover Letters

Cover letters are an additional, yet important, component of a resume. It is important to customize each cover letter to each company and/or position that you apply for.

  • Address your letter to the person listed on the position advertisement, or a person that you know has the authority to hire.
  • Format your cover letter like a letter.
  • State which position you are applying for, and where you heard about the opening.
  • Show enthusiasm in your writing, and briefly explain why you are the best fit for the job.
  • Explain why you want to work for this company/organization, and why your skills, experience, and qualifications directly relate to the position.
  • Briefly highlight the examples you believe will set you apart from other candidates.

Resume Samples

Have you ever written a resume or cover letter before? Don’t know how to start? Our sample resumes can provide you with the inspiration you need to finish your next job application.