Resumes, Cover Letters and Writing Samples
A resume is a marketing tool and an extension of your professional brand. An effective resume showcases your experience, achievements and strengths, relating them to a specific position by using key words and highlighting relevant experiences. Remember, there is not one “correct” resume for you to use—the best resume is the one that clearly and effectively communicates your skills, abilities and future potential.
CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)
A CV is a longer more detailed version of the résumé commonly used in academic, scientific or research environments. Commonly 2-10 pages in length, the CV details your academic and professional career. Before starting, always check with professors in your department for sample CV’s as different disciplines have different requirements.
Your LinkedIn profile can increase your visibility online and help you build your professional brand that showcases your background to prospective employers. Your profile should include much of the information included on a resume.
For "creative" positions (copywriter and graphic designer): A resume is truly secondary to the work that you present in your portfolio.
For writing-intensive positions: You will benefit from an online portfolio (created using a website like WordPress, Pressfolios, or clippings.me) that includes samples of your writing, such as blog posts, published articles, and/or press releases (depending on the nature of the positions you are targeting). You should provide a link to this website on your resume.
For videographer and production positions: Videographers and producers need to have a “reel” of work that they conceptualized, filmed and produced. The videos should be posted to a website for easy viewing. Resumes are more of a formality after evaluating the person's reel.
Resume Feedback and Handshake Approval Process
Once you have used the above resume advice, templates and samples on this page to build or update your resume, the following steps are recommended by the Career Center to ensure that your resume will stand out to employers.
- Receive feedback and instruction through BigInterview. With BigInterview's tools, you can obtain:
- Interactive resume scoring and editing. Receive bronze, silver and gold medals based on industry standards for sections and aspects of your uploaded resume.
- Resume Builder. Use a bank of bullet points and resume sections to describe your experience in ways most meaningful to employers.
- Receive feedback from the Career Center staff:
- Attend Drop-in Hours (which vary by day). Please visit bit.ly/udel-dropins for more information on this week's schedule!
Handshake Resume Approval
Students using Handshake to apply for any jobs, internships or other positions in the recruiting system must first have their resumes approved by the Career Center staff. The approval process is in place to help ensure you are effectively presenting your skills and background to employers. Once your first resume is approved all future resumes and documents will be automatically approved for use in the system.
Upload your resume to Handshake by clicking the image or icon at the top right of the page, selecting "My Documents" and then "Select from Computer".
Your resume will be reviewed for approval; approved resumes may need some edits so be sure to scroll down and look for comments.
- Make changes based on the feedback and by using resume samples and templates.
We make every effort to be timely in the approval process, but it may take up to two business days to review and provide feedback on/approve your resume. Be aware of job and internship application deadlines, and begin the resume approval process well before an application is due.
Cover letters show your interest in a position and showcase your writing abilities. They link your resume and background to the position, showcasing your knowledge of the employer and highlighting relevant skills. Cover letters should be personalized for each position. Hiring managers may read hundreds of cover letters in a year and can easily spot a generic or poorly prepared letter.
Why are you interested in this position and employer? What in the position description got your excited about the opportunity?
■ The main purpose of the first paragraph is to explain why you are interested in this position and employer, and to grab the reader’s attention.
■ If someone has referred you to the organization (a current employee, friend, family member), you should include his or her name in the first sentence.
What 2-3 experiences connect your skills to those listed in the position description? What makes you a good fit?
■ Tell your story: describe your qualifications for the position using specific examples from academic, work, volunteer, leadership, athletics, and student organization experiences.
■ Connect your accomplishments, skills and knowledge directly to the position and employer
■ Focus on key areas of your background and do not simply repeat statements from your resume
Can you summarize your interest/qualifications in one statement?
■ Give a final statement of your interest and qualifications
■ Thank the employer for their time and consideration.
■ Use LinkedIn, social media and the organization’s website to gather information for your cover letter.
■ Try to find the name of the person who will read the letter, which could be listed in the position description. If you can't find a name use a title (eg: Internship Coordinator, Human Resources Director, Hiring Manager)
■ Underline the verbs in the job posting to identify key skills needed for the position.
TYPOS, GRAMMAR AND STYLE
■ Cover letters also showcase your writing abilities, so make sure they are error-free and grammatically correct.
■ Avoid beginning every sentence with an “I” statement.
■ Use positive and confident language, but not too imposing.
■ Try to be concise with supporting detail
■ Write in the active verb voice.
FONT & LAYOUT
■ 10 to 12 point, in the same font as your resume.
■ One inch margins
■ Left justified, beginning no more than two inches from the top of the page
COVER LETTER AS AN EMAIL
■ Use body of email as cover letter starting with salutation. Do not include addresses and dates.
Writing samples are required for entrance into many graduate programs, as well as for jobs and internships where writing is an integral part of the position. Often these positions are in research, media, advertising or public relations.
Do not skip the writing sample!
Written communication is one of the top skills valued by both graduate schools and employers. If they request a writing sample, it is required! They are committed to hiring students who can write well, and are looking for proof of this skill.
Pay close attention to writing sample instructions.
If there is a length, word count or subject matter requirement, abide by it. If no instructions are given, and you cannot tell from the position description what type of sample would be most relevant, consider contacting the program or employer to ask about their preferences.
Select your writing sample based on quality and relevance.
Above all else, select a piece that you, and others who you trust, think is well-written. Have multiple audiences proofread your writing sample so that it is completely free of spelling and grammatical errors.
If no specific instructions are given, make the sample as relevant to the position or program–and the writing you will do in that position or program–as possible. If you are applying for a job writing brief news stories for an online newspaper, send in clips from your time for The Review, not your ten-page analysis of a Russian novel. Similarly, if you are applying for a summer research position, you will want to submit a research-focused writing sample; if you are applying for a business analyst position, you could submit a case study that you wrote in an economics course.
There may be times when you will not be able to use a sample that you have already written. If you are applying for a position in PR, for example, but have never written press releases, you may have to create one from scratch.
If you have to submit a writing sample for a discipline-specific graduate program, then use a strong paper that you wrote in a course related to that discipline. Faculty often can assist you in selecting a sample for these applications.
The UD Career Center is part of the Division of Student Life, which advances equity and inclusion, deepens student learning and drives holistic development through education, experiences and communities.