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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. Jump to the different sections by clicking on the topics below.

Resumes | Professional Letters | References | CVs


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

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

View our Professional Letters handout for details and examples.

  1. Cover/application letters serve as an introduction to your resume.
  2. Letters of interest/inquiry are inquiries about possible vacancies or a request for an informational interview.
  3. Professional emails done well engage an employer to view your cover letter and resume.
References and Letters of Recommendation

Reference Page
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 resume. Usually, prospective employers will not check your references until you reach the interview stage. However, it may benefit you to send your list of references in the initial stage of your job search even if it has not been requested. This may create a favorable impression if your references are particularly impressive, or the employer knows someone you have listed. Be sure to bring your reference page to the interview.

For your reference page, you should have names of 3 - 5 references 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 what skills you want them to emphasize if they get a call from a prospective employer.

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.

Letters of Recommendation
Request letters of recommendation from employers and other individuals who may validate your work-related experience, skills and character.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

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. In certain professions, it may even include samples of the person's work and may comprise 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.

Majors Requiring Portfolios
Fine Arts, Marketing Communications, Education, Communication and Media Studies, Stage and Screen Arts, Horticulture, and Sociology.  

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 web site or e-portfolio. As an alternative eFfolio Minnesota is an online portfolio tool available . Other popular free sites include and The College of Business utilizes LiveText for current students, and the College of Education & Professional Studies utilizes Chalk and Wire for its students. 

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