Resumes/Cover Letters

Find a job/internship
Considering an offer
Resume and Cover Letter
Find A Job/Internship
Considering An Offer

General Guidelines

Review these tips and videos to help build your resume.

  • In general, limit your resume to one page. However, if applying for a federal position, longer resumes are expected (See Tips for Writing a Federal Resume).
  • Keep margins ideally at 0.75"-1".
  • Use traditional, clean fonts sized 10-12. Use of bolding is OK for section headings and job titles.
  • Avoid using vertical or horizontal lines, graphics, italics, and columns.
  • Proofread carefully for grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors.
  • Make sure verb tense is correct. Use present tense for current jobs and past tense for past jobs.
What is the difference between a resume and a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

A CV is generally used when applying to Graduate School or when applying to a job in Academia. In addition, several countries, such as Canada and the UK use the CV instead of the resume so you may need a CV if applying to jobs internationally. Check out our Curriculum Vitae resources on our Graduate School Resources page for additional assistance on putting together a CV.

Tailoring Your Resume

Before submitting your resume, make sure you tailor it if necessary. Review the employer and job description, find out what main skills, qualities and keywords they are seeking. Then, do your best to match your resume to them.

Applicant Tracking Systems
  • Did you know that a large majority of companies use a software application - called an applicant tracking system (ATS) - to scan and narrow down resumes based on the job description? View this guide on "How to Maximize ATS Scoring."
Accomplishment Statements
Transferable Skills

Marketing Your Brand

Besides your resume, make sure you always submit a cover letter. A cover letter is a nice introduction to who you are, why you want the job and your qualifications. We also share other ways to market your brand such as creating a portfolio or LinkedIn account.

Cover Letters  
  • Employers may request that you provide them with references. These are people who can speak positively about your accomplishments and work ethics.
  • Avoid using family members and friends on your reference list. Ask current and former employers, supervisors, professors or mentors.
  • Learn more about creating a reference list.
Additional Writing Help

The SJSU Writing Center can help you improve your professional writing skills, and their Writing Specialists assist SJSU students with any type of writing (including resumes, cover letters, and personal statements). Schedule a tutoring session, attend a workshop, and/or use their valuable online resources.

Have questions about resumes/cover letters?