Job Search

Candidate shaking hand of female interviewerBefore starting your career search, it is important that you have a library of documents that include a resume, cover letter, list of references, and a thank you letter and/or email follow-up letter.



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Best Practices

Formatting and General Information

  • Keep your cover letter to no more than one page in length.
  • Do not write your cover letter on letter head.
  • Start the cover letter with your physical address; below it the date.
  • Make sure your cover letter is personalized to each position and company.
  • Write ONLY in professional business language.
  • Use appropriate and simple fonts in sizes of 10 to 12 pt.
  • Font size should be consistent throughout the cover letter.
  • Margins should be no more than 1 inch on all sides.
  • The cover letter should be single spaced, but leave black lines between your contact information, the date, the company’s contact information, the greeting, each paragraph and the closing.
  • Proofread your cover letter to make sure it free of all grammatical errors.
  • Sign your letter, particularly if you are submitting a printed copy. Use a signature file rather than a script font for electronic signatures.
  • When including a cover letter with an email, either upload the entire document as an attachment or paste the entire document, including mailing addresses and the date, into the body of the email.

Contact Information of the Recipient

  • Include the name of specific person, with the appropriate prefix if known (i.e. Dr., Ms., Mrs., Mr., etc.).
  • If you do not have a specific person, address the letter to hiring team or manager (example: Dear Human Resources Team).
  • Include recipient’s job title. On the next line, include the name of the company. Afterwards, include the company’s physical mailing address.


  • Address the letter to the person whose contact information you provided above and use a colon at the end, NOT a comma.

First Paragraph

  • Identify the position in which you are applying and state how you learned about the position’s opening.
  • Show interest in the company.

Second Paragraph

  • Use a copy of the job description to help you write this paragraph.
  • Describe your qualifications, experience and how your abilities match the needs of the company (Use specific examples as evidence).
  • Show company knowledge and match the company’s goals and values with your own.
  • Include personal characteristics relevant to the job and show why you are the best candidate.

Third Paragraph

  • Express interest in requesting an interview.
  • Provide information regarding how and when you can be contacted.
  • Thank the recipient for considering you for the available positions.

Closing and Signature

  • Include an appropriately professional closing, such as “Sincerely”.
  • If you print you cover letter, sign it in the space between your closing and your typed name.


  • Keep resume to as close to one page in length as possible.
  • Make sure your information fills the page without looking crowded.
  • Emphasize major headings using capital letters, underlining or bold.
  • Use Bullets, Bold, Italics, Underlining and indenting appropriately.
  • Proofread your resume to make sure it is free of grammatical errors.
  • Keep spacing and formatting consistent throughout document.
  • List dates consistently throughout the resume.
  • Use only appropriate/simple fonts.
  • Keep font sizes 10, 11, or 12 pt. for text and 12, 14, or 16 pt. for headings and name.
  • Do NOT include pictures and/or graphics.
  • Do NOT include personal Information (Age, Gender, Race, etc.).
  • Set margins to no larger than 1 inch on all sides.


  • Put your full name on the top line of your resume.
  • Include telephone number with area code (Be sure you can be reached at this number).
  • Make sure your email address is professional (Your CSU email is a perfect example).
  • Complete mailing address is optional, but at minimum you should include: City, State, Zip code


  • Profiles/Summaries are not required on resumes. If you choose to use one, summarize key accomplishments and/or skills relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Do NOT use personal pronouns (i.e. “I, me, or my”).


  • List the full name of the institution from which you earned your degree, including the city and state.
  • Write the full name of your degree and major (Do NOT use abbreviations).
  • List highest or most recent degree first.
  • Do NOT list any high school information.
  • Include the month and year of graduation or anticipated graduation.
  • Do NOT list dates of attendance.
  • Only include GPA if it is 3.0 or higher.


  • List any Scholarships, Assistantships, Grants, Honor Societies, Deans Lists, and Awards.


  • List any relevant technical skills that are reflected accurately (i.e. proficient, working knowledge, etc.).
  • Include language skills that are reflected accurately (i.e. fluent, conversant, etc.).
  • Do not include vague generalities (example: “Strong communication skills”).

Relevant Courses

  • Only include relevant courses to the job you are applying for.
  • Write full course name; do NOT include course numbers.


  • Include relevant Internship/Co-op. paid work and volunteer experiences.
  • Include position title, company name, city, state, and dates of employment.
  • Begin each job description with action verb, with correct verb tense (i.e. For your current experience, verbs should be in present tense. If experience is in the past, verbs should be in past tense.).
  • Focus descriptions on accomplishments.
  • Quantify and qualify descriptions when applicable (i.e. Increased sales by 20%).
  • Use bullet points and try to limit descriptions to approximately 5 bullet points.

Leadership and Activities

  • List campus and community activities as you would a job or internship.
  • Highlight leadership positions and describe accomplishments using bullet points. Include title, organization, location and dates of participation.


  • Do NOT include names and contact information for references on resume; list on separate page to present them when asked for.
  • Do NOT include state “References available upon request”.

Additional Categories

  • Use additional categories when applicable (i.e. Research, Publications, Presentations, Professional Associations, Certifications, Licenses, and Military Service).

Resume Template

Thanks to a partnership with Resuem Target, a professional resume writing service, is pleased to offer access to career-related information and premium resume templates. Click here for resume templates for all industries. 

Your reference list of three to five individuals should be on a separate document that is readily accessible to provide to an employer, if asked. You want to think about your relationship with each person and how well you worked with each other. Also, keep in mind how that person would explain your qualities to a potential employer. These considerations are important because you want a reference to accurately and effectively emphasize your strengths.

Each reference listed should include:

  • Name
  • Title/Position
  • Company
  • Phone Number
  • E-mail Address
  • Relationship to You (i.e. Supervisor, Professor, Advisor, etc.)

Examples of people you can use as a reference are:

  • Current or Former Supervisor
  • Teacher or Professor
  • Advisor
  • Colleague

Sending a thank you letter to the interviewer within 24 hours of your interview will demonstrate to the employer that you are interested in the position that sets you apart from the other candidates.

You should send a formal letter via mail or through e-mail, if that is how you have corresponded with the organization. You should thank the person you interviewed with for taking time out of their day to meet with you and considering you for the position.

The letter should include your desire for the position, mention content from the interview that impressed you about the company or the position you applied for and your contact information.

Thank You Letter Sample

123 Main Street
Elgin, IL 60120
December 22, 2018

Ms. Jane Smith
Human Resources Director 
XZY Company 
456 State Street 
Chicago, IL 60123

Dear Ms. Smith:

Thank you very much for the opportunity to interview for the Financial Analyst position yesterday. The interview was informative and confirmed my desire to work within your excellent organization.

As we discussed, you are looking for someone that can come in and "hit the ground running." With my internship experience in the some of the largest financial institutions in Chicago, I believe that I am that person. During my internship at ABC Company I was part of a team that handled complex research and analyses at the request of the Board. This experience combined with my strong analytical orientation and belief that "the numbers tell a story" has well prepared be for a career in this industry.

I am very interested in this position and I am available for a follow-up interview at your convenience. Please feel free to contact me at 847-555-1234 or

Thank you again for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


Fred Jobseeker

Interviewing is the stage of the career search process where employers recognize all of your attributes and want to understand what kind of person you are and how you interact with people. Taking time to prepare yourself before the interview will give you the confidence to successfully represent your skills and individuality.

Some tips to assist you in preparing four interview are listed below.

Company and Position Research

Why is this important?

Researching the company you are about to interview with is important because it gives you, as a potential candidate, insight into the company’s values, the service(s) it provides and its target audience.

  1. Skills and experience the company values
    Read through the job description and list of requirements for the position you applied for, so that you understand what the company is looking for in someone to be able to perform this role.  Also, knowing the salary ranges of the position may be useful if you receive an offer.
  2. News, recent events and history about the company.
    Showing that you are up-to-date with company news shows the employer that you have genuine interest in the company and the services it provides.
  3. Company’s culture, mission and values.
    You want to know these things to be able to align your goals with the goals of the company to reassure them that you are the best candidate for the position.
  4. Clients, products and services.
    This is directly related to the type of work you’d be doing, so having an idea of these three things will better prepare you for the interview.
  5. The title and name of the person who you will be interviewing with.
    Doing a little research on the person you are interviewing with may give you a chance to connect with the interviewer on a personal level.

Sample Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your strengths?
  3. What are your weaknesses?
  4. How do you handle pressure?
  5. What do you know about our company?
  6. Why are you interested in our company?
  7. Why do you want this job?
  8. What are your short-term goals?
  9. Why should I hire you?
  10. Do you have any questions for me?

Sample Behavioral Questions

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to overcome adversity.
  2. Tell me about a long-term goal and how you achieved it.
  3. Tell me about a situation where you gave your all and you were not successful. Why not? What happened?
  4. Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
  5. What do you do if there is down time during work?
  6. Tell me about your proudest accomplishment.

Sample Applicant Questions

  1. Remember that this is your time to interview the employer to figure out if you feel that you would be a good fit for the company.
  2. Do not ask about company demographics, salary, benefits, vacations or other company perks. This will be discussed later in the interview process or once you receive an offer.
  3. List of 5-7 Common Applicant Questions
  4. Describe the culture of the company?
  5. What are the opportunities for advancement?
  6. What do you like most about working here?
  7. What are the next steps in the interview process?

Interview Attire


  • A traditional, conservative suit; navy, gray, or black.
  • A white or blue long sleeved shirt with a conservative tie.
  • Professional and clean dress shoes with black socks.
  • Neat and professional hairstyle, clean-shaven (or trimmed) facial hair.
  • A watch and one ring.
  • No earrings.
  • No cologne or after-shave.
  • Trimmed and clean nails.


  • A well-coordinated suit; navy, gray, black or any other non-loud color
  • A long sleeved blouse in a complimentary color
  • Neutral or flesh-tone hosiery
  • Moderate matching shoes with a medium heel
  • Subdued, natural make-up and no perfume
  • Neat and professional hairstyle
  • Sparse jewelry
  • Manicured nails with light or clear nail polish

“Personal branding is the strategic and systematic process by which individuals determine, define, differentiate themselves from others or their competitors initially within a specific marketplace, industry or platform by their definable style, ability, message or values through a method of intentional positioning, building and leveraging of their unique purpose, attributes and expertise to be recognized as the authority or celebrity in their chosen field.”

-Rachel Quilty, Brand Yourself 
How to build your Personal Brand
  1. Define your overall aspirations. Clearly define your goals and objectives and be sure that they are concise.
  2. Do Your Research. Research the steps it takes to reach your objectives and goals. Learn from others who are in the position you aspire to be in. What were their biggest success and mistakes? What can you take from them and apply to yourself to aid in building your brand?
  3. Determine your brand attributes. How do you want your brand to portray you? What adjectives do you want to be associated with? What do you want to be known for?
  4. Assess your current state. What are you doing now that is contributing to your current brand? How do other perceive you now? What can you change and why do you need to change it?
  5. Create your game plan. Your game plan should include all aspects of you and how you present yourself and they should be very specific. From your physical appearance, your social media presence and how you communicate are qualities you want to take into consideration as you’re creating your plan.
  6. Manage your brand. You should be proactive when managing your brand. All aspects of your brand should be in sync and reinforce your brand attributes.