application materials


Resumes / Cover Letters / Application Materials

Preparing quality application materials can help you obtain the job you have been dreaming of or gain acceptance to the graduate program you have been working towards.

A resume is a tool used to entice an employer to interview you. If employers are not calling you for interviews, then either your resume is not reflecting how your skills and experiences match closely with the positions you are applying for, or you are applying to jobs that do not match your qualifications and experiences.

  • Begin your first resume and view resume examples: Resume Writing Principles handout
  • Take a look at JobHero if you are seeking additional examples of skill phrases based on job category and job title

Schedule an appointment with Career Services staff member for a resume critique.

Professional letters allow you to introduce yourself and highlight unique experiences to make you stand out. This letter not only allows the employer to gain a better understanding of your skills, interest and qualifications, but it also conveys your written communication skills and abilities.

View our Professional Letters handout.

Types of Letters
Cover/application letters serve as an introduction to your resume.
Letters of interest/inquiry are inquiries about possible vacancies or a request for an informational interview.
Professional, well-written emails may motivate employers to view your cover letter and resume.

View an example reference page on the last page of our Resume Writing Principles handout.

If requested by the employer, submit a reference page with your application. Usually, prospective employers will not check your references until you reach the interview stage. Be sure to bring your reference page to the interview.

For your reference page, you should have names and contact information for 3 - 5 individuals who will speak highly of you if an employer contacts them regarding your employability. Your references should be past employers, supervisors, or professors. Prospective employers are not interested in personal references. Make sure you ask each reference for permission to include them on your list. Tell each reference what kind of jobs you will be applying for, and provide them with a copy of your updated resume.

In addition, it is important to keep in contact with your references. They often appreciate being kept informed of your progress, and may be able to provide leads on employment opportunities.

Curriculum Vitaes (CV) are used primarily in academic, research, and medical careers as a replacement for a resume. It is also common for international companies to ask for a CV instead of a resume. A CV is far more comprehensive than a resume and includes a listing of professional history, including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. CVs are often comprised of numerous pages.

About Portfolios 
A portfolio is a collection of artifacts about you that demonstrate your employment-related experience, skills and abilities. These items are either gathered into binders, or are made available through a personalized web portfolio. When used properly, the most effective opportunity to introduce a portfolio is during an interview.

Portfolios are used by professionals throughout their careers to assist in obtaining tenure, promotions, and to organize and illustrate on-the-job ideas that may require documentation, such as project proposals and funding requests.

Types of Portfolios 
Hardcopy Portfolio: The most effective portfolio to use during an interview. Portfolio artifacts are held in a professional leather-bound case or three-ring binder, and organized using a table of contents and section tabs for quick navigation. 

Mini Portfolios: Photocopies of your best artifacts that demonstrate your work-related experience, skills and abilities related to a position you are interviewing for. These artifacts are placed in a thin 2-pocket folder or a professional report binder with plastic cover, and are intended to be offered to the employer at the end of an interview, or used during the interview. 

e-Portfolios: Ideal for providing employers information about you either before or after an interview. Using technology during an interview is generally not appropriate and distracts from two-way communication between the interviewer and interviewee.

E-portfolio Technology
Most web hosting providers offer web design templates which allow individuals to develop their own personalized website or e-portfolio. As an alternative, eFfolio Minnesota is an online portfolio tool available. Other popular free websites include and

Requesting a Recommendation Letter
Ask potential recommendation writers in-person if they would be willing to write a strong and favorable letter on your behalf. Be appreciative of the person who honestly tells you that they cannot write you a strong recommendation. Remember that a well thought out letter of recommendation takes about 45-60 minutes to write.

Letters of recommendation are best written by people who know you well through a job, class, or organization. It is wise to choose a variety of people who know you in different capacities and can speak to your different strengths, abilities, and experiences. However, be sure to follow any specific instructions provided regarding who should write your letters (i.e. two professors, one supervisor). You might ask a professor in your major, a recent work supervisor, or someone you have worked with in an organization. Generally, letters written by personal or family friends are not appropriate.

Letters of recommendation should be written on organization or departmental letterhead. You will want to keep your recommendation letters together and in a secure location. Please note that some schools, employers, and scholarship applications may require a recommender to fill out an evaluation form and/or provide responses to specific questions instead of submitting an open-ended letter of recommendation. The method for submitting recommendations may also vary greatly.

Education majors, note that your most important letters of recommendation are from your cooperating teachers, supervisors, principals and other individuals who have seen you perform in a school setting or interact with young people through teaching, tutoring or mentoring.

Assist Your Letter of Recommendation Writer
Tell the letter writers your plans or interests and how this recommendation will assist you. Remind them of your past activities and accomplishments. Encourage them to include specific skills you may want to have mentioned and give examples when possible. If you have completed a resume, give the writer a copy.

Let the writer know the date by which you need the letter of recommendation completed. Try to give them at least two weeks to write the letter. Provide the writer with detailed instructions for submission, including an addressed, stamped envelope if being sent in the mail.

Thank the Letter of Recommendation Writer
A thank you note to each person who writes you a letter of recommendation is appreciated. Be sure to let your writers know the results of your search or application.

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Career Services
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187 Rodli Hall


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