Quick Questions—On Resumes and Cover Letters

Quick Question:  Help! I just need information about how to write a resume and cover letter and I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me write these.

Writing Center Response: There is certainly a lot that can be said about resumes and cover letters.  Ultimately, the resume and cover letter depend on the purpose you want them to serve.  Applying for a graduate program would look differently than applying for a marketing job.  You should tailor your resume and cover letter according to what you are applying for.

I would suggest for a resume to make sure that you have everything that can play to your strengths mentioned.  I would also recommend only putting on recent activities; a law firm is probably not interested in the years you were a camp counselor in high school (if you were a counselor throughout college, however, that would be appropriate). Make sure you include any awards you have been given, any languages you speak, and any programs you are familiar with (if this is for, say, an internship.  Some examples would be Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, etc.).

With regards to the cover letter, I would suggest making sure that your letter covers three points.

  1. Who You Are
  2. Why They Want You (Why Are You Qualified)
  3. Why Do You Want Them

This way, the cover letter seems personal/unique and gives them a better picture of who you are as a candidate. Be sure to be as specific as possible with your examples (ex. Don’t just say “I like fast paced environments”; rather explain why you like fast paced environments and why you think they are important for what you are applying to).  Finally, end the paper with talking about why you want what they have to offer; this is ultimately about you and the hirer creating a relationship, so tell them why you want to be a part of it.  (A tip here is “honesty is always the best policy.”  They probably see a lot of people with the same ideas of how much they love X and they think they would really benefit from working for X, so be real with them and tell them what you are looking/hoping to get out of the experience.)

Again, all of these tips are dependent entirely on what you are applying to. I have attached a link to the Career Center’s website that may be more useful.  I would recommend visiting them and talking to them about your goals and they can help you format a proper resume and appropriate cover letter.

Best of luck in your applications!

Virtually every day tutors at the writing center respond to “Quick Questions” asked by writers from the DePaul community. Occasionally we publish the questions we receive along with the answers our tutors craft in response.