CMS Login

Resume, Cover Letters & References

Image Caption

Helpful Links and Sample Documents

Resumania: ESU's Resume Guide and Workshop

Schedule an Appointment

Optimal Resume Tool

Students have the ability to easily create, customize, and distribute resumes including the ability to create an interactive personal resume website that could be shared with an employer. Creating a resume at OptimalResume is easy and is accomplished with step-by-step instructions, intuitive examples, career exploration tools, action words, automatic spell checking, and a myriad of styling options to make each resume the best presentation possible.

Optimal Resume Help Guide Preparation

Good, error-free resumes and cover letters are essential for career and professional development.

Resume Development
Applicant Tracking Systems
Cover Letter Development
References Development
Business Cards

Anatomy of a Resume

The resume is your advertisement and "selling piece" to persuade an employer to interview you. It is a summary of your experiences, not a full-length biography.

Showcase your credentials and achievements in ways that will make employers take notice. Don't list job responsibilities. Show how you have made positive differences through your experiences. Create themes (based on personal assessments, your goals, and objectives) throughout your application documents. Build an effective resume by highlighting relevant skills, experiences (including leadership, school, and work experiences) to the position.

Profile vs. Objective

The use of "Profile” or “Summary" at the beginning of your resume is now preferred over an "Objective".

Objective (wrong): Seeking a position where I can utilize my knowledge and skills and advance my career in the direction of upper-level management.

  • Asking for a position
  • Non-specific
  • Does not add value

Profile (RIGHT!): Engaging and dedicated customer service expert with two years’ experience working in a variety of retail settings. Critical thinker, problem solver, and an effective communicator. Possesses the knowledge, skills, and desire to succeed in the Assistant Sales Manager at Company “X”.

  • Branding statement to open
  • Skill summary that relates to the job description
  • Focused on a specific job at a specific company

Resume Checklist

Clean and Error Free

Your resume must be neat. An initial impression is made in the first five seconds. If your resume is difficult to read, it may be thrown aside and not considered. Furthermore, even one error will make an employer question the quality of all your work.

Consistently Formatted

You should ensure that your resume uses consistent verb tenses, font, and size. Avoid the use of templates since you have to make sure that your resume is distinct and not necessarily the same as the other candidates.

Positive, Action-Oriented Words

Maintain a positive word choice – Avoid saying “not” or “none”. The reader should feel that you are optimistic in your approach. Use "action" words and action – verb phrases in order to make your responsibilities distinct and powerful. Highlight any leadership involvement and opportunities you took to initiate or lead.

Correct Grammar

  • Ensure consistent and correct use of punctuation and capitalization.
  • Use the language of your specific industry when you are sure it will be understood
  • Limit use of abbreviations/acronyms
  • Avoid the use of personal pronouns ("I" and "me") and unnecessary articles such as "a” & "the."
  • Use consistent verb tense (present tense for current positions; past tense for previous work)
  • Use conventional abbreviations and capitalization for resumes
  • Abbreviate states using the U.S. Postal abbreviations. Be sure to capitalize both letters in the abbreviation (PA, not Pa)
  • Capitalize languages (i.e. Spanish not spanish)
  • Write out all dates in consistent format (1993-1995, not 1993-95 or 1993-5; September, not Sept.)
  • Periods are not required when using bullets; periods may or may not be used, but you must be consistent throughout
  • Be extremely careful when spelling and capitalizing computer software and hardware. Check the correct spelling and capitalization with the manuals. (COBOL not Cobol; PowerPoint not Powerpoint)

Resume Samples

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – Tailor Your Documents

These software systems are becoming increasingly common for the initial screening of application materials. They are used to scan the content of your documents in order to identify how well your experience relates to the functions of the job being applied to. This is done to save the employer time when reviewing candidates.

The most effective way to overcome these filters is to adjust the content of your documents to include keywords from the job description. Adjust your skill set to reflect what is being requested, and be sure to include the names of any specific software systems or tools you will be using in the position.

When applying for positions, it is essential to customize your resume to specifically address what is being sought in each job description.

Cover Letter Development

The cover letter is an important component to give you an edge on other applicants that may have a similar experience. We have developed sample cover letters that can give you a better idea of what key questions to address in your cover letter.

  • One page maximum
  • 10 point font minimum, Times New Roman preferred
  • Even margins, minimum of 1 inch around
  • Well balanced use of white space
  • Block formal letter format
  • Clean grammar and spelling
  • Avoid the use of acronyms that may seem vague
  • Avoid the use of informal contractions
  • Use paragraph breaks to make it easier to read
  • Include return address, date and recipient address


  • Letter is addressed to someone specific if possible
  • Introductory paragraph introduces candidate and purpose
  • Do not start with “My name is…”
  • Avoid starting each sentence with “I”
  • Body of the document should include reference to specific examples
  • Final paragraph should express appreciation for consideration
  • Ask for specific action if possible
  • Indicate how you will follow-up about the position

Distinctive Expression

  • Catch the readers interest by detailing your qualifications
  • Avoid listing or regurgitating what is already on your resume
  • Provide evidence that you surpass the other candidates
  • Emphasize that you are a good fit with the organization’s objectives
  • Focus on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you
  • Compliment the company’s successes
  • Make it clear that you understand the mission and company culture


Reference Development

Your references will be an important part of every successful job application process. Although they will usually look the same, there are a number of important things to consider when compiling a list of references for any job:

  • Always make sure that the people know that they are being listed – Let people know!
  • References are their own document – DO NOT PUT THEM ON YOUR RESUME
  • Match up your references to the job you are applying to – Who can speak to your ability to perform the tasks of the job you are applying to?
  • Only provide as many references as they ask for – It may seem like a good idea to add more, but this can be interpreted as not following directions. Usually 3-5.


Business Cards

A business card is the first way to introduce yourself, especially when you don’t have a resume with you.

What should your business card include?


  • Your name and any accreditation initials
  • Your picture.
  • Email or phone (beneath picture)
  • Your address


  • Your branding statement or leave blank for “note section”

*Note: use matte finish so people can write on it.

For assistance, please contact us.