Career and Professional Development

Resumes and Cover Letters

Below are tips to guide you in creating professional documents for the application process.

The purpose of a resume is to serve as a sales tool that will secure you an interview. An employer typically scans a resume for about 6-10 seconds, so it is extremely important that it effectively markets your skills, knowledge and experience. The document must be flawless and well formatted.

Sample Resumes

Action Verb List

Resume Rubric

To get feedback on your resume:

  1. Upload in your Knight Career Network account under the Add a Resume menu option
  2. Email us at to get feedback via email
  3. Stop by our Drop-in Hours M-F 12-2PM in Bachman 19

Turnaround time for uploaded or emailed document is 2 business days.

A cover letter is a business style letter that accompanies each resume you send to prospective employers. It serves as an introduction, telling the employer who you are and why you are sending a resume. Your letter allows you to provide a more detailed account of skills and experiences in your background that relate directly to the position you are seeking. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored, so it makes sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing an effective letter.

After an interview, plan to send a thank you letter to each person who participated, personalizing the letter to mention specific topics that were discussed. Reiterate your interest in the position, briefly and concisely discuss specific aspects of the company or position that appeal to you and thank them for the chance to interview. Thank you, letters should be sent as soon as possible after your interview, preferably within 24-48 hours. The letter is typically emailed, although employers in some organizations still like to receive a handwritten note.

Follow-up letters can be used after a networking opportunity such as a phone conversation with a potential employer, a networking event, or other conversation with a person who is indicating an interest and ability to assist you in your job or internship search. These letters give you the opportunity to reiterate your interest, highlight specific related skills and experiences, and most importantly, remind your contact about your conversation.

Follow-up letters can also be sent to an employer after you have applied for a job. If you do not receive a response to your internship or job application within a reasonable amount of time (two weeks to one month, depending upon the position), it may help to follow up by email. A follow-up letter should inquire about the status of your application, offer to provide additional information on your qualifications, and reaffirm your interest in the position and the organization

A list of references is submitted only when requested by the employer or graduate school. Before creating a professional reference list, remember that the most important thing is to ASK if someone would be willing to serve as a reference for you. Prior to asking, think about your relationship with the person and ask yourself why they would remember you, including the quality of your relationship. Ask at least two weeks in advance for jobs and at least a month for graduate school applications, which usually require letters. Provide your references a copy of your resume for a full picture of your experiences.

Every time you provide an employer or graduate school a list of your references, contact the individuals again with a position or program description to prepare them.

Attributes Employers Seek on a Candidate’s Resume


ATTRIBUTES                                                                                          PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS

Problem-solving skills


Ability to work in a team


Communication Skills (written)


Strong work ethic




Communication Skills (verbal)


Technical skills


Analytic/quantitative skills






Source: Job Outlook 2024, National Association of Colleges and Employers