Resumes, cover letters and references

Resumes, cover letters and references are designed to demonstrate how you, your experiences, strengths, and skills fit the needs of a particular opportunity. Explore the information below to learn the best practices when tackling these documents.

Big Interview

This online tool will help with developing a resume and practicing interviewing skills. Includes how-to videos and a resume creator tool. Just log on with your WSU Access ID.

Resume Templates

Resume template 1 - Print version for emails and in-person networking events

Resume template 2 - Print version for emails and in-person networking events

Resume Template 3 - Online version to upload when applying through website Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)


How to write a resume (For college students) 

How to write a resume with little or no work experience - resume template 

How to write a good cover letter for a job application with no work experience

How to write a cover letter with no experience (How to write a great cover letter) 

How to customize your resume to get past the applicant tracking system 

How to get your resume past resume screening software (2019) 

General resume information

Many times, your resume is the first impression an employer has of you. For this reason, it is important that you write this document in a clear, concise, and informative manner that accurately portrays your education, work history, and involvement.

5 tips and additional info as you begin working on your resume

  1. Find a job posting BEFORE you try and write your resume. The posting tells you what to talk about.
  2. One page is typically appropriate for undergraduates, two pages are acceptable for graduate students.
  3. Use font size 10-12 for text. Margins can be from .5 - 1" as long as they are all the same (top, bottom, left, right).
  4. Be sure your format is conservative, consistent, and easy to read – avoid using too many elements (bold, underline, italics, capitalization). Your resume should be formatted for an applicant tracking system.
  5. Use bullet points for descriptions and utilize action verbs to begin each bullet point. Be sure to incorporate skills, keywords, and competency phrases from the job posting, if you have those skills/competencies.

Resume Resources

The Most Effective Resume Format in 2021 [Pros and Cons]

Resume Rubric

How to Match Your Qualifications to a Job

Writing effective CV's and resumes

Resume action words

Resumes and cover letters

How to write a resume when changing careers

Vault sample resumes by job

44 resume writing tips

Cover letters

With the exception of career fairs, every time you submit a resume you should include a tailored cover letter. This document allows you to explain your qualifications for the position and demonstrate how you have unique abilities that will add value to the organization. The cover letter will also provide the employer with a sample of your writing.

Cover Letter Guide

Cover Letter Rubric

Seven elements of a successful cover letter

Sample cover letters

Vault cover letter information

E-mail cover letter etiquette

A strategy for writing the dreaded cover letter


Most employers and job applications will ask for 3-5 references.

Three reference guidelines:

  1. Always ask your references if it is ok to list them on your documents before giving their information to an employer.
  2. Inquire about which addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers your references want you to list.
  3. Send your resume, cover letter, and job description to your references so that when a potential employer contacts them, it will be easier for the references to speak about you.

Additional info on resume etiquette

The Right Way to Submit References During Your Job Search (Template Included)

Should you include references on your resume?   

How to format your references