Resumes, Cover Letters, and CVs

Get Help with Writing

  • Post your resume on CSUDH Handshake for a critique from a career coach
  • Attend a Resume Writing Workshop - a career coach will discuss how to write an effective resume and shows a step-by-step example.
  • See a Career Coach - For individual help, make an appointment with a career coach in our office using CSUDH Handshake.
  • Review the examples below
  • View Our Career Manual - available in the Career Center

Career Readiness Guide

How to Write a Resume

What is the purpose of a resume?

A resume is a marketing tool. Its purpose is to motivate an employer to interview you. It should give a potential employer a brief overview of your education, work experience, extracurricular involvement, and skills and abilities that address the stated and implied requirements for the position you are applying for.

How do I get started?
  • Know yourself and the position.
  • Create a personal inventory of what you have to offer that includes your skills, accomplishments, and educational and work-related experiences.
  • Obtain and review a job description for each of the positions you want to pursue.
  • Read through the job description to see what qualifications the employer is looking for, and see what qualifications you have. Take note of key words on the job description that relate to what you have done. With this information, you should be able to target your abilities and background to the position desired.
What type of resume do I use?
  • A Reverse Chronological Resume is the standard format preferred by employers.
  • Best suited for college students and recent graduates.
  • It is a date-oriented history of education and experience, listing most recent experiences first.
  • If you are considering another format, such as a functional resume, a career coach from the Career Center can guide you on what format may work best for you.
What information do I need to put on my resume?
  • Objective
  • Education
  • Relevant Experience (paid and nonpaid)
  • Honors and affiliations
  • Skills
How do I effectively convey my experience?
  • To make sure that your resume is dynamic, use action-oriented verbs to describe the tasks you've performed in your jobs or the skills you possess. Use verbs that most accurately describe what you want to convey to a potential employer.
  • Avoid repeating yourself and using the same words over and over. For example, you do not want to put down "responsible for…" under each description.
  • Examples of action verbs include: improved, coordinated, organized, oversaw, planned, supervised, collaborated, facilitated, developed, created, established, etc.
  • The Career Center's Career Manual, available in our office, has an extensive list of action verbs to help you get started.
How should my resume look?
  • The resume's content is brief and specific, presented through concise statements formatted in an outline style.
  • Do not abbreviate. Spell out names of employers, universities, etc.
  • Avoid slang or "insider" terminology that only someone at your current employer would understand.
  • Use simple, easy to read fonts like Times Roman or Arial. Avoid underlining and fancy designs.
  • Use good quality white or off-white 8 ½ x 11 bond paper.
  • Proofread carefully and use spell check and grammar check.
For prospective grads
  • Place education first on the page, ahead of experience.
  • Include as much work experience as possible, including paid, unpaid, volunteer, internship, clubs and organizations.
  • Forego high school information - it is not relevant once you reach junior status in college.
  • Include a permanent address and phone number if you plan to move in the next few months.
  • Use a professional e-mail address.
  • Limit to one page.
For alumni with experience
  • Instead of an objective, consider a summary of skills and qualifications targeted to the position desired.
  • Place experience ahead of education.
  • Expand to two pages if needed, and place your full name at the top of page two.
  • Focus on accomplishments at work, not just responsibilities.
  • Include relevant activities, e.g. continuing education, professional memberships, and community service; avoid hobbies and interests.
Do I need a cover letter?
  • Yes. With each resume you send, you must also send a cover letter.
  • A cover letter will introduce you as a candidate, clarify the position for which you are applying, and enable you to highlight strengths.
  • See our examples of cover letters below.

Follow these tips and you are on your way to a competitive resume -- and your next job interview!

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