Resumes, Cover Letters, References, and CVs

Preparing application documents to highlight your skills and experiences is an important part of any search process. Whether you are applying to graduate school, an internship, a part-time job, or any other formal experience, you need documents that highlight what you have to offer. Career coaches are available to help you customize your documents to meet your needs. We also have several example documents in the additional resources section below. You can also choose to advance directly to CV information or to document examples.

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There are many right ways to create a resume, but the most important thing is to demonstrate your specific qualifications for the opportunity you are seeking. Customizing your resume involves critically reviewing the job or internship description and carefully organizing and re-writing content to demonstrate your qualifications. The goal of writing a great resume is to get an interview – helping remember that it is the starting point of the application can take some pressure off of having the perfect design and allow the focus to center on making your experiences specific, relevant, and obvious.

Resume Checklist

Use these basic tips to make sure your resume meets the minimum requirements to appear professional.

  • Resume is at least one full page 
  • Contact information at the top of the resume includes name, email, and phone 
  • Fonts are professional and easy-to-read in 10-12 point font 
  • All format elements are consistent throughout the document including fonts, bolding, italicizing, and use of capitals 
  • All work experiences include a description of accomplishments, transferable skills, or relevant job duties
  • Begin each bullet point with an action verb in the appropriate tense 
  • If the experience has concluded, it should be written in the past tense 
  • All work experiences list the organization name, your title, location, and start and end dates 
  • List the formal title of your degree (e.g. Bachelor of Arts in History) and the date you did or will graduate (e.g. May 2020) 

Enhance Your Resume

Move from basic to best with these suggestions for strengthening your document.

  • Customize your resume to a specific job or internship posting 
  • Focus on highlighting transferable skills to the job you are seeking 
  • Put your most relevant content to a job of interest closer to the top of the document 
  • Quantify accomplishments by including numbers 
  • Convert your document to a PDF before uploading to prevent an extra blank page 
  • Remove all high school information from your resume after your first year at OHIO 
  • Make your name the largest text on the resume 
  • List the university’s name and location in the education section 
  • Avoid any pronoun use in the document 
  • Do not use periods at the end of bullet points 
  • List your GPA only if it is above a 3.0 

Cover Letters

Cover letter writing is much easier with a little practice, a strategy, and a genuine interest in the job or internship you are seeking. You should write a brand-new cover letter for each position you apply to. 

Cover Letter Checklist

Use these basic tips to make sure your cover letter meets the minimum requirements to be professional.

  • Address the letter to the person managing the posting (not, “To Whom it May Concern”) 
  • Write in a professional style—free from jargon, clichés, and run-on sentences 
  • Only include priority information, most cover letters are one page or slightly less 
  • Avoid excessive (if any) humor and over-the-top elements 
  • Include key words, qualifications, or skills from the job posting, if relevant to your experience 
  • Make your examples and highlights unique from your resume content, not a restatement of your resume 
  • Emphasize what the company does that intrigues you (e.g. specific projects, reputation, etc.) 
  • Conclude by informing the employer of when and how you will follow up with them 
  • Convert your document to a PDF before uploading to prevent an extra blank page 
  • Include your contact information at the top of the letter (e.g., name, email, phone, and address) 
  • Fonts are professional and easy-to-read (e.g. Times, Calibri) in a legible size (typically 10-12 point) 
  • Include a formal salutation (e.g., Dear) and closing (e.g., Sincerely) in the letter 
  • Reference the name of the company and specific position you are applying for referenced in the first paragraph 
  • At least one statement is made about why you are interested in working with the organization 
  • What you have to offer the organization is emphasized instead of what you will gain 
  • Use one specific and detailed example of your previous experience to highlight why you are an ideal fit for the position 

Cover Letter Outline

Struggling with where to start? Use this basic outline to know what to include where.

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

State which position you are applying for and where you found the opening. Give information that shows your interest in the company and why you are writing. Explain why you are interested in working for this employer. 

Point out two or three relevant achievements or qualifications you have that will benefit the employer. Relate your achievements/qualifications back to the organization and job description. Avoid repeating information found on your resume. 

Thank the employer for their consideration. Leave the reader with one last highlight either about yourself or why you would like to work for that company. 

Best regards, 
[Your Full Name]


Reference Lists

Many applications require a reference list, but it can be confusing what this is and how to maximize the opportunity to connect employers with references. A reference list is different from reference letters. Letters are often requested by graduate or professional schools for a faculty member or professional to document all of your relevant accomplishments. The reference list is brief and includes the necessary contact information for references who can speak with an employer about your skills and experiences relevant to the specific experience. Only provide a reference list if it is requested. 

Basic Requirements for a Reference List

Use these basic tips to make sure your reference list meets the minimum requirements to appear professional.

  • Format the reference list as a separate document from your resume  
  • Use your same contact information from your resume at the top of the page 
  • List 3-5 professional or academic references who agreed to be a reference (examples – supervisor, academic advisor, coach)
  • Include the name, title, organization, city/state, email, and phone number for all references
  • Only select references who you have worked with professionally or in an academic setting, do not use family and friends to provide a character reference
  • Ask potential references if they can give you a positive reference before including them on your list 
  • Share your resume and a list of jobs you intend to apply for with your references so they are prepared for calls 

CVs (Curriculum Vitae)

CVs are typically academic-oriented document demonstrating your life as a scholar, rather than a highly customized, succinct resume. CVs are often used by faculty, academics, and researchers. The term CV can also be used internationally as a term interchangeable with resume, which can add to existing confusion about the difference between a resume and a CV. A great strategy for starting a CV is to review the CVs of faculty members in your department and to ask for feedback from your faculty. 

OHIO’s psychology department shares this sample CV [PDF] as a starting point for what a CV can include. 

CV basics

  • Usually longer than a resume (more than 2 pages)
  • Can include more detail in certain areas, especially describing research and teaching
  • Includes sections that may be different from a resume, for example, publications, presentations, teaching, and grants
  • Should be customized based on job search goals (for example, highlight teaching experiences for instructor applications)

Additional Resources

OHIO Resume Template [DOC]

Download this editable document to personalize the sample resume and make it your own. Career coaches are available to help you customize a resume to meet your needs. 

Alumni and Student Sample Resumes and Cover Letters [PDF]

Examples from Ohio University alumni and students in a variety of fields. The document includes multiple student-athlete examples, as well.

Psychology CV Example [PDF]

Example from Ohio University's Psychology Department.

Purdue OWL Action Verbs List

This list from Purdue OWL for word-choice inspiration in your resume, cover letter, or CV.

Purdue OWL CVs and Resumes

Includes multiple resources for document preparation including samples, different resume approaches, and tips for veterans.

Resume Example with Summary and Company Descriptions

Resume template shared by CNBC that shows a good use of company descriptions and an effective summary for candidates with experiences. The template also emphasize skills relevant to remote work.