Resumes & Cover Letters

A resume is a marketing tool designed to provide an employer with a brief, written advertisement of your skills, experiences and accomplishments.

Employers will initially spend as little as 15 – 30 seconds “scanning” a resume, sometimes referred to as the “30 Second Test.” For this reason, it is critical that your information be concise and focused. One page is usually sufficient.

Employers judge resumes on several criteria. The way you present information is important. Just like in academic writing, ideas and themes must be clear to the reader. It’s not just about highlighting the important things, but format is equally important. For a step by step guide check out our Resume Guide, or our Creative Resume Guide.

Cover letters are leveraged as a compliment to your resume. They allow for a deeper look into your experiences, interest in the position/school, and an opportunity to highlight the skills that make you the best person to be an addition to the job or institution. Outside of your resume, this is the other resource that provides context for who you are and where you plan to go. For a step by step guide check out our Cover Letter Guide.

Students often have questions about how to start a resume, what content to include, what headers to use, how to write a good cover letter, and how to best express their experiences. The Guided Discovery team reviews resumes and knows many of the best practices for writing fantastic resumes and cover letters.

Guided Discovery offers resume workshops throughout the academic year. Students are encouraged to meet with our staff to critique a current resume or start work on a new one. We encourage you to schedule an appointment today!

Addtional Resume & Cover Letter Resources:

Action Verbs

Personal Statements

Sometimes, application processes require personal statements as opposed to cover letters. When this happens, you may find yourself wondering “What’s the difference between a personal statement and a cover letter?” Simply put, the personal statement is a story- your story, told as such. Personal statements commonly incorporate much of the same information as cover letters. However, they tend to be less formal and prescriptive in nature (even so, you should still adhere to the traditional conventions of writing). These documents allow you to expound upon the information you’ve offered about yourself, especially any misgivings, questionable elements, or gaps in your resume or other expressed experiences and provide the opportunity to apply context and detail to better explain your education and/or professional journey up to this point. Think of the personal statement as a narrative advertisement. When writing them remember these three things: be honest in your sentiments, be thorough in your explanations, and be fluid in your thoughts.

As always, it’s a good idea to have these statements edited and reviewed, just as with cover letters and resumes. We encourage you to make an appointment with a Guilford Guide to further discuss personal statements. Also, feel free to peruse the resources below for more tips and pointers on personal statement writin”. 

Writing the Personal Statement- Purdue University Online Writing Lab

Personal Statement Worksheet