Resume & Cover Letter Best Practices

Resume Best Practices

  • Tailor to the position for which you’re applying.
  • List the dates of your experiences, include month and year if possible.
  • Use professional, easy-to-read fonts (e.g., Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond, etc.)
  • Keep your format consistent (e.g., font size/type, order of information, layout, etc.)
  • Place the most important information first and group related experiences together.
  • Use power verbs to strengthen and diversify your descriptions of past roles.
  • Quantify and qualify your accomplishments—give specific examples of your work, including statistics and numbers (e.g. helped increase fundraising by 10%).
  • Include relevant non-work experiences.
  • Emphasize transferable skills.
  • Keep information up-to-date.
  • Keep it to 1 page.
  • Edit and proofread multiple times.
  • Always send as PDF unless asked to do otherwise.

Cover Letter Best Practices

  • Make sure you have spelled the company’s name correctly.
  • Talk about yourself in the first person.
  • Proofread your cover letter multiple times. Ask a friend or colleague to proofread it as well.
  • Limit your cover letter to one page, preferably 3-4 brief paragraphs.
  • Share your interest in the position and the organization—be specific!
  • State your qualifications for the position but don’t just reiterate your resume -help the reader understand why your experiences will help you be successful in the position you’re applying for.
  • Express how your skills and experience would benefit the organization.
  • Be confident but not boastful.  
  • Check if the institution lists requirements for the cover letter, as they may request specific answers or information. If so, be sure your cover letter speaks to each requirement.