A résumé is a concise method of introducing yourself to a potential employer. With this document an employer will decide whether you have skills, education, and experience necessary for the position. Rarely will the résumé produce an immediate job offer. It is, however, commonly used my employers as a screening tool. The candidates with the best résumé will be given further consideration. Therefore, it is important to invest in its preparation. It is not enough to list your experiences and credentials. You must also decide which of your qualifications you wish to highlight. The more clearly you can demonstrate the match between your skills and the prospective employer’s needs the more likely you will be given further consideration.
A well-crafted résumé:
- emphasizes relevant education, skills and experience.
- translates experience and training into tangible skills and accomplishments.
- is clearly designed and written with brief action phrases.
Résumé are organized in terms of category headings such as Objective, Education, Experience, Activities, Affiliations, Honors, Interests, and References. Many of these headings are optional. Choose categories that are appropriate for representing your background and qualifications.
This is the central element on which the content of the résumé is based. Because job titles vary from company to company, think of what you want to do (function), at what level (entry, trainee, middle management, etc.) and in what setting (financial institution, aerospace industry, etc.). A good objective is a bit paradoxical: it must be specific yet open-ended. If you are considering more than one occupational field, prepare a separate résumé for each. If you are having difficulty writing a career objective, drop by Career Resource Room and talk with a career counselor.
List education in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent education and working backwards. A high GPA (e.g., 3.0 or above) and other academic achievements may be included. You may also choose to list courses that especially qualify you for your career, not overlooking courses that are almost universally appropriate (e.g., writing skills, speaking ability, foreign languages, computer skills, etc.).
The key to the experience section is to think broadly. This section will include not only paid employment that you have had, but also other types of experience where you used related skills. For instance, you may want to list that you were captain of the intramural volleyball team or that you volunteered as a trainer in Special Olympics. The "skeleton" of the experience section includes the "position title" (in some cases this may be "Social Subcommittee Chairperson" or "Club President"), "company" name (again in some cases your "company" may be your fraternity or volunteer setting), city, state and dates for each entry. This core information should be on your résumé, regardless of the format you use for this section.
There is no ideal format for the experience section, but two common styles are acceptable to most employing organizations: chronological and functional. A chronological format lists past employment in reverse chronological order by dates, with the most recent experience listed first. With a functional format, experience is summarized in skill categories rather than by chronological order. It consists of a selection from your total experience of only those skills which relate to the job you are seeking. A functional format will require an additional section entitled Employment History, where you show the reader where you have worked and in what positions. A third possible format is a combination format. List your experience in reverse chronological order. If you include brief job descriptions, stress the connections between those jobs and the one for which you are applying.
Skills and Accomplishments
You have acquired many skills and accomplishments through your education and life experiences that you can mention to prospective employers. You would list your skills and accomplishments under each position in a chronological format and in your skills categories in a functional format. Start each accomplishment with an “Action Verb” followed with a description of what you did (e.g., “Prepared and delivered presentations to business owners” or “Scheduled speakers and companies for tours and conferences”). If you are unaware of all your skills and unclear as to which ones relate to employment. A career counselor can help you.
If your references are so well known that the mention of their names would be a magic key, think about listing their names on your résumé. In most cases, a good strategy is to use the phrase "references available upon request" at the end of your résumé only if you have room. This gives you the flexibility of altering your list according to appropriateness for each job for which you are applying. Possible references are former supervisors, UCSB faculty, and others who are qualified to comment on your work habits, achievements, personal qualifications, etc. Line up your references in advance and clue them in on your career objective so they will know which of your sterling qualities to emphasize. Keep your references posted on your progress and send a thank you letter. People who help deserve to be appreciated. If an employer does ask for your references you can list them on a separate page.
Résumé Design Tips
- Remember the goal is to create a document which stands out in the stack because it is well designed, consistently formatted, clear, clean, and easy to read.
- Leave at least ½ inch margin throughout.
- Avoid a text heavy document.
- Put headings in CAPS/BOLD to help identify the sections.
- Use bullet points instead of paragraphs to outline key accomplishments.
- Point size should ideally be between 10-12 and consistent throughout, with the exception of headings and your name which need to stand out.
- Use Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica or other common font styles throughout. Pick one of these fonts to use, do NOT use a combination of font styles.
- Use phrases, not complete sentences. (“Supervised five employees” vs. “I supervised….”)
- Begin phrases with action verbs.
- Avoid personal pronouns (I, me, my)
- Place the most critical information near the top of the page.
- Keep it to one page for current students and recent graduates.
- Spell check and proof your document before sending to anyone!
A PDF of the full Résumé & Cover Letter Guide is available.
Cover letters are never optional. They should accompany each résumé that you send out to a potential employer. A cover letter is your personalized sales pitch that determines whether your résumé will be reviewed. It is a chance to show the reader the person behind the accomplishments, to make a personal connection between the reader and your background.
A cover letter should:
- Explain why you are sending the résumé
- Tell specifically how you heard about the position
- Convince the reader to look at your résumé
- Reflect your attitude and personal attributes
- Link your skills and experience to the requirements of the position
Getting Started on Your Cover Letter
Research both the job description and company before writing the cover letter. Have a firm understanding of what the position will entail and what the company does. Ask yourself, “What skills and experience do I have that would be an asset to this company and to this position?”
Whenever possible try writing to an individual by name. You may be able to find out the name through your research or you can simply call the company and ask who the letter should go to.
Be Clear and Specific
Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific. Clearly communicate why you are writing. When writing the body of your cover letter call attention to your relevant experience and knowledge. Be as specific as possible and provide examples. However, try not to overwhelm the reader; don’t retell your entire career history.
Cover Letter Outline
- Create an opening that catches the reader’s attention right from the start. If you have a mutual friend or are answering an ad the employer placed on Handshake, say so right off. Immediately mention the traits you want the reader to consider when thinking of you.
- In the body, demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Show how your specific traits, interests, experience, and education make you a perfect fit.
- Close the letter by letting the employer know how they can reach you and by taking responsibility yourself for the next step. Tell the reader when you will contact him/her to see when the two of you might meet to talk in person.
Cover Letter Quick Tips
- Proofread your letter. Make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors
- Ask someone to critique your letter
- Use a business letter format
- Don’t be too wordy; cut out extra words
- Avoid clichés
- Be positive and enthusiastic
Cover Letter Resources and Samples
Drop-In Cover Letter Critiques
Get your cover letter critiqued by one of our counselors; no appointment necessary! Check out our Career Resource Room link to obtain more information on drop-in hours.
Résumé/Cover Letter Guide
This handout provides you information on how to structure your cover letter and includes a sample. You can also find this handout in the Career Resource Room.
Career Resource Room Library: Cover Letters
We have several books on writing cover letters in our Career Library located in the CRR.
Writing samples are something that an employer may request in order to get a sense of your written communication skills. They are general only necessary for jobs that involve writing, but employers may request them regardless of the position.
- Some things you could submit are a press release, academic paper, news article, or blog post. Be sure to specify if the sample has been published and where.
- If you don’t have anything you want to submit, write an article or a press release on something you think is relevant/interesting.
- If the employer doesn’t specify length, keep the sample to 2-5 pages
- There is no tolerance for mistakes in your writing sample, so have somebody you trust double check it before you submit!
- Try to send a sample that is similar to something you’d write on the job. For example, don’t submit a creative writing piece for a marketing internship.
- If you submit a course paper, be sure that the sample you turn in is free of instructor comments/grades.
- Be cautious with submitting blog posts. Make sure they are more professional than personal.
- Remember to ask your previous employer for permission if you are submitting a sample that you’ve written for a previous position.
- Don’t handwrite your writing sample. Submit an online or printed copy.
- Keep in mind that the purpose of your writing sample is to show how you get ideas across, not that you have creative ideas (though creativity won’t hurt).
- If an employer requests a writing sample or says that it is “optional,” submit one. If they don’t mention writing samples during the application and interview process, don’t submit one.
Career Development Center
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
625 North Jordan (10th & Jordan)
At the CDC, our mission is to be the gateway to career services on the Indiana University Bloomington campus by providing students with a strong foundation for career development success. We are a student-focused center that provides opportunities for undergraduates to cultivate self-awareness, career and major exploration, marketable skills, and experience. By offering comprehensive, high-quality services and opportunities, we aim to help students successfully identify and pursue their academic interests and achieve their career aspirations. Our services include:
- Drop-in Career Advising – all topics (University Division Students only)
- Individual Career Advising Appointments for University Division students (non-University students by request)
- Tailored Exploratory Programming: choosing a major and career exploration programs, self-assessment group interpretations, part-time job and internship search strategies, resume writing, interview preparation, industry awareness, and the graduate school application process
- Experiential Education: job shadowing and mentoring
- Part-time Jobs (MyJobs): online postings, recruitment and fairs
- Online career resource library which includes information on career exploration, 24 career industry guides, experiential education search tools, resume/cover letter writing, job search strategies, the graduate school application process, and career information for special populations
Deciding on a career is one of the most important decisions a student will make, and the staff at the Career Development Center are dedicated to providing students with a multitude of experiences and resources that will enable them to make informed career decisions.
For a full description of our services, visit cdc.indiana.edu, call us at (812) 855-5234, or come see us at 625 N. Jordan (the corner of 10th and Jordan).
Walter Center for Career Achievement
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
625 North Jordan (10th & Jordan)
The Walter Center for Career Achievement provides comprehensive career planning to IU undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences. These career services include career advising, assessment inventories, career fairs, career panels, web-based and print resources, on-campus interviews, and listings for internships and full-time jobs.
First-year and sophomore students may enroll in ASCS Q294: Basic Career Development, an eight-week, two-credit course, which assists students with self-assessment and career exploration.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors may enroll in ASCS Q299: Marketing Yourself for the Job and Internship Search, an eight-week, two-credit course, which assists students in the development of an effective plan for post-graduate success. Students wishing to receive internship credit for their qualified experiential learning experiences may enroll in Q398: Internship - Theory into Practice. Other courses include ASCS Q275: Professional Portfolio Development and ASCS Q377: The Art of Meaningful Work.
Creating a plan for post-graduate success is one of the most important decisions a student will make, and the staff at the Walter Center for Career Achievement are dedicated to providing students with a multitude of experiences and resources that will enable them to make informed decisions about the future.
Kelley School of Business
Undergraduate Career Services Office (UCSO)
Help Desk (P100) Telephone: 855-2482
Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (Fall/Spring only)
Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (All other periods)
Fridays 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The UCSO serves more than 5,000 student registrants each year and coordinates recruiting activities for more than hundreds of employers who schedule thousands of on-campus interviews. Although geared for Kelley School of Business students, non-business students can participate by completing the "Compass" career classes that are required of all business undergraduates: Business T275 (including the Business T175 prerequisite) at the Bloomington Campus.
In addition to the traditional on-campus interview program, we strive to bring students and employers together in informational (non-interview) settings. These efforts take place through a variety of special programs including career fairs, off-campus job listings, corporate presentations, corporate lectures, web resume books, virtual job fairs, and other specialized events.
Complete details can be found at the UCSO web site: https://kelley.iu.edu/recruiters-companies/undergrad/.
Graduate Career Services Office (GCS)
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Graduate Career Services provides resources and individualized coaching for students in the MBA Program, Graduate Accounting Programs, Information Systems Graduate Program & Kelley Direct Online Program. GCS coordinates recruiting activities (on-campus interviews, networking events, virtual information sessions) with over 100 companies seeking Kelley talent each year.
Complete details can be found at the GCS web site: https://kelley.iu.edu/recruiters-companies/graduate/.
School of Education
W.W. Wright Education Building 1000
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
Career Connections assists education students and alumni with career services for P-12 careers and related fields. Our career coaches provide one-one-one job career advising, resume reviews, cover letter and other correspondence assistance, mock interviews, and more.
Our staff also coordinate a series of professional development workshops throughout the year, utilizing community guest speakers in order to support students’ classroom learning with practical skills for education careers.
Career Connections hosts the School of Education Annual Interview Day, which is held in late April. Over 80 school districts from Indiana and a dozen additional states visit campus to participate in pre-scheduled interviews with graduating education candidates for their upcoming teaching vacancies.
Our office acts as a liaison with employers in a variety of ways: facilitating employer advisory councils in order to inform school district hiring needs and candidate best practices, maintaining a dynamic job board for IU students, responding to employer requests with qualified candidate resume referrals, and hosting on-campus information sessions and interviewing.
Students interested in comprehensive job search services are highly encouraged to enroll in EDUC-M 202: Job Search Strategies for Educators, a one-credit, eight-week course offered every fall, spring, and summer semester, on-campus and online.
To get started, log in to Career Connections now, using the student login link at edcareers.indiana.edu.
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Career Services Office
Law Building 020
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Career Services Office serves as a bridge between employers and law students, offering a spectrum of services to assist students in their personal career and professional skills development. The CSO works year-round assisting students and alumni through a customized approach that helps them develop a unique career search strategy based on their values, interests, personality and skills. Among the many services offered are (1) job search and career development seminars; (2) individual career coaching sessions; (3) on-campus recruiting; (4) job listings web site; (5) national job fairs; and (6) an extensive career resource collection.
The web site keeps students abreast of new developments (www.law.indiana.edu/student-life/career/) and special events. Seminar topics include: Self Assessment, Job Search Techniques, Professional Tool Kit (Resume, Cover Letter), Interviewing Skills, Legal Practice Areas and Settings, Networking, Public Interest & Government Careers and more. Indiana Law has many distinguished alumni who return annually to speak with students about their career choices and share their wisdom with students.
Jacobs School of Music
The Jacobs School of Music Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development (OECD) provides expert guidance and resources, as well as a wide variety of events designed to empower Jacobs School of Music students as they prepare for a career in music and dance.
Project Jumpstart offers high-impact programming that includes career development and entrepreneurship workshops, professional development programs, self-promotion and publicity, and networking events.
Throughout the fall and spring semesters, the OECD provides workshops on key skill sets such as resume and cover letter writing, website development, video editing, photography, health and wellbeing. Most workshops take place at Jumpstart Central (MU011), which is located near Clouse’s Lounge.
Meet one-on-one with a career counselor to identify and locate information about specific music careers, prepare and optimize your resume and professional cover letter(s), and plan your career path. Appointments can be made by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Office of Career Services, SPEA 200
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
SPEA’s Office of Career Services provides comprehensive career development services for students pursuing careers in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The services offered to students include (1) A web-based job listing service, SPEACareers.com, (2) on-campus recruiting, (3) individual career counseling, (4) employer information sessions, (5) alumni mentoring, and (6) user-friendly web-based career resources and an extensive career resource library.
Undergraduate students are required to complete V252: Career Development and Planning, a full-semester, two-credit course, which assists students with self-assessment and preparation for the labor market and overall post-graduate success.
The Office of Career Services also coordinates and administers the Indiana University Washington Leadership Program (WLP). The WLP affords 20-30 IU students the opportunity to take classes and participate in high-level internships in our nation’s capital. WLP participants earn IU academic credit for this experience. The WLP is offered every fall and spring semester and it is open to all IU-Bloomington majors, and SPEA majors on other IU campuses.