How important is a resume?

In the past, resumes and cover letters were the primary method to introduce yourself. Increasingly, they are merely a trigger within an employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which search through submitted resumes for keywords and related semantic context.

Using Resume Builders

Jobscan is a free resume builder. Documents can be downloaded to MS Word to make additional edits.

Rezi is a free AI-based resume builder which writes ‘work experience’ statements with a prompt. Free document downloads available.

Use the examples on these two sites to get ideas for your resume

Using Resume Evaluation Sites

Several websites score a resume’s impact, keywords, and presentation. Their comments can help to improve first drafts. These are general evaluations, and sometimes the trade skills of occupations like Education or Nursing are not recognized in the score they generate. They also do not weave an individual’s strengths into the document. Make an appointment with Career Center staff to develop language for your strengths. Fees to use these sites may apply.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Nearly every employer uses a system that manages applicants’ resumes. Here are some tips for creating a resume that can pass through an ATS.

  • Use keywords in the job ad within the context of your work/school experience. Summarize accomplishments and projects.
  • Give more emphasis to the keywords nearer the top of the job ad.
  • Pay attention to the adjectives used before a skill. ATS systems can judge proficiency by looking for words like expert, superior, strong, meticulous, efficiently or effectively.
  • Place the primary skills from a job ad in a professional summary section at the top of your resume.
  • Mirror the soft skills needed in the job as well as the hard skills.
  • Use standard job titles and section titles (e.g., Work Experience) not abstract labels.
  • Avoid using headers and footers.
  • Use simple designs/layouts
  • Submit documents as PDF’s

Cover Letters

A cover letter accompanies your resume when applying for positions. It lets employers know why you are interested in the position and their organization.


  • Customize each cover letter to match your skills and experience to the position.
  • Adhere to application guidelines.
  • A well written, free of errors and grammatically correct cover letter is a must! Do not overuse the word “I.”
  • Be sure to lead with the correct verb tense. 
  • Read your letter out loud to ensure that your ideas flow and to catch any awkward sentences or overuse of words or phrases.
  • As a final check, have your letter reviewed.

Cover Letter Checklist(PDF)    Example (PDF)

Salary Requirements

If you are required to include salary requirements, always state your requirements in a range and that you want to learn more about the position by meeting with them. Form your response on the basis of your research, not your personal need, such as: “Based on the research I have done for this position, it seems the salary range is…”

If an employer asks you to include salary history, avoid answering. This question is illegal in an increasing number of states.