Resumes, Cover Letters & Curricula Vitae

Tell your story

You have more experience than you think. Share who you are and what you're capable of. 


Most employers spend 20 seconds or less scanning your resume for the first time. In those few seconds, you need to clearly demonstrate how your skills, experience, education, and characteristics match what they are looking for. 20 seconds isn’t long to make that kind of impression. Here’s how to do it.

Accomplishment statements

Accomplishment statements are the foundation of an outstanding and competitive resume. By the end of this short video, you will be able to identify the components of an effective accomplishment statement and will also provide you with a step-by-step guide for creating powerful accomplishment statements that uniquely reflect your skills, abilities and potential.

Take a minute to reflect on what you just watched. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How have you described your experiences? What accomplishment statements already exist in your document?
  • What about your experience can be better described with the VERB + TASK + RESULT formula? Where are opportunities to quantify and qualify your experience?
  • How can you apply “fast numbers” (e.g. service to over 250 clients, collaborated with a team of four classmates, raised $4,000 dollars, supervised 10 volunteers, etc.) to your statements?

Targeting your application

Each employer reads a resume with a particular job in mind. When students submit general resumes employers struggle to see a specific “fit” for their team. By customizing your resume for each and every job you will improve your chances for getting an interview.
  • Think about the last job you applied for. How did you customize and change your material to match what the employer was asking for?
  • Find a job description for a position that you really like. What do you believe that the employer is for as they review applications? How can you stand out from the crowd?
  • How are you going to highlight your professional skills (e.g. communication, teamwork, critical thinking, etc.) with concrete examples?

Organizing your content

There are no “official” rules for headings, formatting and organizing the content for your resume. Based on the feedback we receive from thousands of employers, we know that there are general principles that make your resume more readable; however, your resume will always be the combination of your personal style reflecting the needs and expectations of a particular industry. This video will provide tips on how to best use headings and formatting to best highlight your experience for employers.
  • What jobs, volunteer opportunities and academic projects will you now include in your “Relevant Experience” category?
  • How might you re-design the way your resume is formatted? 
  • What do people think about your revised resume? Ask for feedback from family, friends and mentors in order to get your document professionally polished.

Cover Letters

Always write a cover letter to go with your application. It personalizes your application and is a chance for you to emphasize your most relevant qualifications for the position.

What to put on your cover letter

Contact information

  • Include your name, address, telephone, and e-mail
  • Keep the format of this section consistent with your resume


  • State the month, day, and year (e.g., May 15, 2009)

Employer’s information

  • Include the name of the contact person, job title, company name, address, and postal code
  • Try to obtain as many of these details as possible through research or by calling the company


  • Begin with “Dear” or “To”
  • Address the contact person by the last name starting with “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If you don’t know the person’s name, address the person by their job title or address your letter to “Human Resources”
  • Avoid “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”

Opening paragraph

  • Open with strong sentences that grab the employer’s attention
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the position: say why you are interested, mention two or three strengths that qualify you for the position
  • Mention the position you are applying for and how you learned about the job
  • Name your referral if relevant, e.g., “Joe Davis, Manager of Customer Service, suggested I write you...”
  • If you are responding to an advertisement, refer to the ad

Follow-up paragraphs

  • Describe specific accomplishments from your past work, volunteer, and academic experiences that show your strengths
  • Target your strengths to the needs and requirements identified in the ad or from your research

Next-to-last paragraph

  • Explain why you are interested in working for this employer
  • Do research to show you know something about the organization’s values, culture, or areas of prospective growth
  • Describe how these values are similar and relevant to you and your previous accomplishments

Closing paragraph

  • Mention your interest in an interview or discussion about opportunities
  • Provide information on your availability and how the employer may contact you
  • When appropriate, take a more proactive approach by arranging to call the employer

Curricula Vitae

Often referred to as an “academic resume,” the curriculum vitae (CV) is a brief biographical resume of one’s educational and work background. The term, Latin in origin, means “the course of one’s life or career.” A CV is used when applying to graduate or for professional programs, academic postings, or employment with international firms.

How is a CV different from a resume?

  Curriculum Vitae Resume
Audience Academics in your field of study Employers hiring you for a specific position
Length Highly flexible 1–2 pages
Focus Represents your academic achievements and your scholarly potential Represents skills, job-related experience, accomplishments, and volunteer efforts
Essentials List of publications, presentations, teaching experience, education, honours, and grants Skills and experiences related to the job you’re seeking

Complete list of publications, presentations, and titles of classes you’ve taught

Activities unrelated to academic pursuits
List of references Include Don’t include
Goal Present a full history of your academic credentials, including teaching, researching, awards, and services Present a brief snapshot of your skills and experiences that communicates your ability to perform the job you’re seeking



The following categories reflect common CV sections; however, this list is not finite. Adapt them to fit your experiences or as a basis for creating a CV that makes you the candidate of choice. You may want to order your sections in the following manner, or rearrange them to highlight your strongest assets. However, the Education section should go at the beginning or close to the beginning and Community Service and References at the end (if included).

Contact information

List name, address, email and telephone at the top of the CV. Do not include the words “Curriculum Vitae” or “Resume”.

Research interests

Be specific and precise but strike a balance between being specific enough yet communicating congruence between your objectives and the academic position. A discussion with your advisor may help you ensure compatibility.


List degree, school, dates, city, province/country in reverse chronological order.

Thesis/dissertation abstract

Include the title of your thesis/dissertation and a summary of your research if more explanation is required. You may wish to check with your advisor about the wording.


Include the most relevant courses. You can remove this section after you obtain your first academic job.

Work experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological format. Includes job title, employer, dates, city/country, and one to four statements describing your main duties. Begin your duty descriptions with a verb and be clear about the tasks you completed for the job.

Laboratory skills

List any special skills using important equipment.

Special skills

List computer skills, additional languages or experience with special equipment (if not listed in the above section).

Scholarships, awards, honours, achievements

List these items including: name, grantor, and date. If the title of the award does not communicate the reason for the reward, highlight what the award recognized. If the value of the scholarship or award is high, you may wish to include the dollar amount. Do not include awards from your high school education or awards granted over 5 years ago. If you only have one award, you may wish to include it in the education section.

Publications, presentations, works-in-progress

Include publications you’ve authored or co-authored. Provide title, authors, dates, and publisher. Only include unpublished manuscripts if they are being considered for publication. For presentations, include the title of the presentation, the name of the organization, the location of the meeting, and the date.

Professional associations

Membership in related professional associations attests to your career commitment and the level of enthusiasm you have for your intended areas of study. If you do not belong to one, join as soon as you can.

Community service

Include community responsibilities and/or university-wide committee memberships.


List the names and titles of three references.

Curricula Vitae for graduate students

Highlighting your thesis/dissertation

The following video follows on from Resumes 101. It is specifically designed for students who want to showcase their research and academic experiences in ways that capture the attention of employers within and beyond the academy.

The following example focuses specifically on how your experience undertaking a thesis or dissertation project can be used to highlight key competencies that employers are looking for when hiring for academic positions.

Highlighting an academic project

This tutorial follows on from Resumes 101. It is specifically designed for students who want to showcase their research and academic experiences in ways that capture the attention of employers within and beyond the academy. The video focuses on how your experience undertaking an academic project can be used to highlight key competencies that employers are looking for.

Highlighting community based experiential learning

This tutorial follows on from Resumes 101. It is specifically designed for students who want to showcase their research and academic experiences in ways that capture the attention of employers within and beyond the academy.

This example provides guidance on how you can showcase your experiences gained through experiential learning projects.