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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Student Success

Résumés and Cover Letters


Your résumé is a document that captures who you are, your experiences, your skills, and your education. It is your brand, and you will use it to market yourself for internships, jobs, scholarships, and professional memberships to name just a few. Your résumé is always a work in progress. As you add new education, experiences, and skills to your résumé, you will also remove items that are no longer relevant. As your marketing tool, it is not a record of everything you’ve ever done, but is a customized document that tells the reader why you are a perfect fit for the opportunity. The best résumés, and the ones that get an interview, are never generic.

Once you have created your résumé, drop in to the Internships and Career Services office so that we can review your résumé. Once your résumé is final, upload it to Handshake, complete your Handshake profile, and make your profile viewable by employers.

Getting Started

What does a college résumé look like? Not sure what information to include on your résumé or how to structure your experience? Check out the Voiland College Resources page. 

Professional Inventory – To help you focus on what’s most relevant to the position, we recommend making a professional inventory before creating your résumé.

Developing Your Résumé – Don’t use a template to develop your résumé. Templates usually place your information in an odd order and can be difficult to revise when you have new experiences to add. Instead, we encourage you to create your own document that gives you the freedom for adjustment as needed.

Writing Targeted Bullet Points

Adding targeted bullet points to describe your experiences will help the reader focus on your accomplishments. The trick is to write strong bullet points that are descriptive, use keywords, and quantify the work, yet are brief. Think about “who, what, when, where, and why/how” and use the formula below:

Skill (action verb) + What You Did (job responsibility) + Results/Outcome (the how or why)Example 1:
Basic: Assisted with inventory
Great: Assisted with weekly and monthly inventory of 500+ medical supplies

Example 2:
Basic: Worked to revise website
Great: Reduced site load time by 5 seconds, increasing page traffic by 25 percent

Action Verbs

All bullet points should begin with an action verb that identifies the taks (e.g. managed, supervised, assembled).

Cover Letters

The cover Letter should be written after the résumé. It introduces the résumé, highlighting the details that will be most important to the employer. Just like the résumé, cover letters should be tailored and specific to each job posting. You can think of your résumé as a quick snapshot of who you are, while your cover letter provides the opportunity to expand upon your experiences and connects your specific skills and knowledge to the position.

Your cover letter should accomplish the following:

  • Clearly route your cover letter and résumé to the right person for the right job opening.
  • Show you can communicate professionally in writing.
  • Reinforce qualifications presented in your résumé and show that you are a good fit for the company by using short narrative examples of how your experience and skills match the needs of the employer.
  • Reflect your  positive attitude, personality, motivation, and enthusiasm.

Cover Letter Tips

Tip 1: Get into the right mindset – What is the purpose of a cover letter? Your cover letter does need to be simple and quick, but since this is your very first introduction, it is vitally important that you impress them.

Tip 2: Don’t make your cover letter generic…Target the position you are applying for. Resist the temptation to use a basic cover letter template online and just change out the names of the job title and company. This letter doesn’t make the reader want to dig deeper and read your résumé. Each letter should be unique to the position you want. Target the job, the company, the hiring manager. Get your point across quickly while being polite, friendly, and professional.

Tip 3: Address their problems and your solutions. Your cover letter should always be focused on how you can help the employer. What’s in it for them? What are you bringing to the table?

Tip 4: Quantify, quantify and measure. Numbers are what really get the attention of most hiring managers. For them, that proves that you’re not just all talk. You can back that up with measurable results. That’s either dollars, numbers or percentages.

  • Numbers: Voted most valuable employee six times
  • Dollars: Increased club revenue by $2,000 with networking event
  • Percentages: Developed procedure that reduced costs by 25 percent

Tip 5: Be yourself, let your personality shine. Whatever you say throughout your cover letter should be in your own words. You want it to be direct and to the point, but you also want your personality to shine through.

Tip 6: Spell-check then proofread, proofread, and proofread again! The number one reason employers throw out any application materials is due to spelling errors and typos. Use an easy-to-read font, like Times New Roman, Ariel, or Helvetica. Make sure there are not errors in it. Proofread it, proofread it again, and then get someone else to proofread it. Spell-check doesn’t catch everything, so you need an actual person to go over it.

Contact the Internships and Career Services Office

Location: Dana 140 Phone: (509) 335-8726 E-mail: Career Coaching Drop-in Hours: 3:00 – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday By Appointment:
Mailing Address: Washington State University Voiland College Internships and Career Services PO Box 642718 305 NE Spokane St., Dana Hall, Room 140 Pullman, WA 99164-2718