Resumes, CVs, and Cover Letters
Resumes and CVs
The purpose of your resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae) is to obtain an interview, but it’s a good idea to update your resume or CV every six months or whenever you complete an experience.
What is the difference between a resume and a CV?
- A CV is typically longer in length and is needed when applying for positions in medicine, academia, or a scientific profession.
- A resume is typically one or two pages in length and is used to apply for all other types of positions.
- Most MPH students will need a resume for their careers.
- A CV is common for Ph.D. students, professors, and medical doctors. A CV includes a list of publications and presentations.
To get started creating or updating your resume, view these resources:
MPH Resume Guide
Sample One Page Resume
Sample Two Page Resume
For more help or to determine if you should use a resume or CV, review these slides from the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education presentation titled Job Search Documents for Professional Scientists.
Ph.D. students interested in faculty positions should review the University of Miami Graduate School Preparing Future Faculty Guide.
Sometimes you will need to submit a cover letter with your resume or CV. A cover tells an employer what position you are applying for, why you are interested in the position and the organization, and what relevant skills, experience, and education you can bring to the position.
Tips for writing a strong cover letter:
- Follow standard business letter format. Align everything to the left, do not indent, set the format to single space, and double space between paragraphs.
- Address your letter to a specific person (Mr., Ms., or Dr.). Review the organization’s website to find out who the supervisor of the position is and address the letter to him or her.
- Write a new cover letter for each position you apply to. Avoid sending the same letter to multiple employers.
- Look at the job description of the position. Highlight required qualifications listed and the job duties. In the second paragraph of your cover letter, highlight the skills you possess that the employer wants.
- The cover letter should provide new content that is not as easily available on your resume or CV. The cover letter is an opportunity to tell the employer why you want to work at their organization and why you are a good fit for the position.
Cover Letter ResourcesCover Letter Format
Sample Cover Letter
A cover letter is an important tool to use when applying for a job because it:
- Introduces you to the prospective employer
- Highlights your enthusiasm for the position
- Describes your specific skills and qualifications for the job or internship, and clearly explains why you are a good fit
- Confirms your availability to start a new position
You should always include a cover letter when applying for a job unless you are specifically told not to by the employer. We recommend that you write a cover letter (aka letter of intent) after you have drafted and tailored your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for a particular job description. For academic faculty and teaching positions, see cover letter instructions in Masters, Ph.D.'s and Postdocs section. When applying online and limited to uploading one document, you can create a single PDF document that includes both your resume and cover letter.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
Use the cover letter template and planner to get started. When drafting your cover letter, keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:
- Limit the cover letter to one page if possible, unless applying to academic faculty, teaching or research positions.
- Use the same font and formatting in the cover letter as you use in your resume.
- You might also want to use the same header in both a cover letter and resume. See header formatting examples.
- If providing a printed copy, use the same type of paper for both your cover letter and resume. Resume paper can be purchased at the UC Davis Bookstore or at an office supply store.
- Many tech companies prefer the cover letter not be attached, but uploaded as text in an email with the resume attached.
- Use formal, professional language in a cover letter. This is true when sending your cover letter as text in an email (above point).
- Personalize each cover letter to the specific position you are applying to.
- Address your cover letter to a specific person or the hiring manager whenever possible. If you don’t know their name, use one of the following examples:
- "Dear Hiring Manager,"
- "Dear [insert department here] Hiring Team,"
- "Dear Recruiter, "
- “Dear Search Committee Chair and Committee Members:” (used for academic teaching positions)
- "To Whom It May Concern: " Note, this last one uses a “:” not a “,”
- Check for typos, proper grammar and accuracy.
- Use spellcheck, but do not rely on it to catch all errors.
- Have multiple people review your application materials.
- Make an appointment with an ICC adviser to review your application materials before you apply.
- Unless told explicitly not to, you should always include a cover letter in your application.
- Don’t use text abbreviations or emoticons if you are using email.
- Don’t be too wordy or write just to fill the entire page.
- Don’t submit a generic “one size fits all” cover letter; tailor your cover letter to fit each position. Thus, none of your cover letters will be exactly the same, though a lot of content will be similar in each.
- Don’t repeat or summarize your resume in your cover letter. Instead, focus the cover letter on your enthusiasm for the job, excitement about working with that organization, to highlight unique skills that make you qualified for the position and a good fit for the employer.
- Don’t overuse adjectives or superlatives, especially subjective ones (e.g. “You are the best company in the world” or “I am the most hardworking student intern you will ever meet.”).
- Quantify when possible. "I've helped organize three club events, including two successful initiatives attended by 25 people" is a better descriptor then "I've helped organize several club events, including a couple successful initiatives attended by many people."
- Don’t exaggerate your skills or experience.
- Don’t use UC Davis letterhead, logo, or UC seal in your cover letter. [NOTE: For graduate students and postdocs, some departments allow use of department letterhead for tenure-track faculty applications. Check with your department before using.]