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Resumes & Cover Letters

An image of a road to the horizon with text career


A resume is the most important ‘marketing’ document in your job search. It is the written part of your life that includes skills, education, jobs, accomplishments, experiences and more. It is the way to communicate and sell your “story” to potential employers with an intent to link to employer needs. The desired outcome of the resume review is to get a job interview.

Skill Definition:

  • I can develop a job resume and tailor it to a specific employer.  It features skills and accomplishments.
  • I can write cover letters and know when to use them.

Key Learning Points:

  • Developing a resume is a great way to “know yourself”…your strengths, experiences, talents and results emerge as part of reflection.
  • Resumes should position you for a job you want in the eyes of the employer. A cover letter is the way to introduce you to a prospective employer.

Learning Path:

  • Know your talents, values, purpose, experiences, and career objectives. List these in outline form on paper.  Consider using the Career Planning Template.
  • Decide if you want to use a chronological or functional format. See Deeper Tips below.
  • Decide on a resume format you prefer. You can easily search the internet for templates that match your need and personality.
  • Draft your resume and find a few people to give you critical input.

Deeper Topics:

  • Steps in Resume Preparation.
    • Gather and check all necessary information including previous jobs, accomplishments, education and training and references.
    • Find the format that fits your need (chronological/functional) and personality (style).
    • Highlight details that demonstrate your capabilities.
    • Use action verbs and focus on results and accomplishments (not a job description).
    • Ensure that it is visually presentable and error-free.
    • Evaluate your resume (see Checklist below) and ask other people to comment on it.
  • Functional vs. Chronological Resumes. The chronological resume seems to be the most popular format used. This type of resume usually contains an objective and/or career summary statement and a chronological listing (from most recent to past) of all your employers along with related accomplishments. This type of resume may be fine for someone who is experienced, but if you are switching careers or are just entering the workforce, consider writing a functional resume. Source: Should You Use a Chronological or Functional Resume? by Roberta Chinsky Matuson on Monster.com
  • Resume Types.
    • Print Resume. These are hard copy (on paper) and should be visually appealing for people to read. They can be scanned and delivered by mail or fax.
    • Electronic Resume. These are stripped of word processing codes, saved as ASCII or plain text document, and delivered by Internet or e-mail. Some companies will ask for your resume in this format if you apply on-line. In your word processing program, click File / Save As … “plain text”.
  • Cover Letters. A cover letter is the way to introduce yourself and your resume to employers. It allows a level of personalization.
  • Networking. Most jobs are acquired via networking, not by submitting applications and resumes,

Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:

  • Search for sample completed resumes on-line and evaluate them using the Evaluation Checklist tool (below).

Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:

  • Is my career objective clear to myself?
  • Do I take pride in my resume? Am I showcasing my strengths and accomplishments in a way to “tell my story”?

Tools and Templates:

Word Definition:

  • Resume. Work history: a summary of somebody’s educational and work experience, for the information of possible future employers.
  • Cover Letter. Accompanying, explanatory letter: a letter sent with another document or package, providing necessary or additional information.

 Web Sites and Articles:




  • Emphasize your strengths on your resume, in your cover letters and in your interviews. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people simply list everything they’ve ever done. Convey your passion and link your strengths to measurable results. Employers and interviewers love concrete data.” – Marcus Buckingham

One-Point Lesson:

Related Skills:

Summary 2-page Lesson Examples, upon request:

  • Resumes and Cover Letters (handout).
  • Resumes and Cover Letters (with instructor notes).