How to Write a Resume, Cover Letter & List of References

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When preparing for your job search, having a proper cover letter, resume and list of references is essential. While having one standard resume and cover letter might be easier for you, tailoring your listed skills to fit the position description for the company will increase your chances of getting the job. Resume Dictionary describes four different types of resumes. These types are reverse chronological (most recent employer first), functional (listing top skills/employers first), combination (mixture of any all types) and modified letter (more detailed than cover letter).

Cover letter

Open up Microsoft Word (or similar text program) and choose your font. You will want to stay with a simple serif font such as Times New Roman or Goudy Old Style.

Write a proper heading. The Purdue University Owl Online Writing Lab says the first block will have your name, address, phone number, fax (if applicable) and email. Make sure each of these is on its own line.

Skip a line and insert the date.

Skip another line and insert the potential hiring manager's information. Put their name, position and address (each piece of information will be on its own line). If you are unsure of the name of who you are sending it to, you can use a generic term such as "hiring manager."

Skip another line and address your letter by using Mr. or Ms. and their last name followed by a semicolon.

Write an introductory paragraph or two with a brief background description and why you are interested in the position. Project confidence by avoiding words such as "think" or "might."

Skip a line and create a bullet list of your skills, accomplishments and other experiences that would fit specifically for the position. The cover letter is your chance to really highlight why you are the best for the position.


Start your resume in a new document with your personal information header similar or the same as your cover letter. Consistency and simplicity is a plus. You want to stand out, but you do not want your resume to be flashy.

Research on the Web and choose one of the four types of resumes that Resume Dictionary discusses (reverse chronological, functional, combination or modified letter).

Skip a line and write an objective. According to the website, you should write a short sentence or two objective based on the position you are applying for. Make sure it is specific.

Skip a line and insert your education experience. Be sure to include accomplishments such as a high GPA or certificates.

Skip a line for your employment history section. This will be based on the type of resume you choose and should include your previous employer's name, your job title, then time spent there (month and year) followed by a bullet list of your job description and accomplishments.


There are sources that say you should include references on a resume, then there are many that recommend against it. Use your judgment on whether you should. It can be easier to list them on a separate page.

Title your references page with your header and maintain the same font format you used for your cover letter and resume.

Make a sectioned list of your references. Each section should at least use their name, title, company, city/state, phone number and email address.


Purchase resume paper. You can buy a package at your local department or grocery store, such as Walmart, CVS or Staples.

Print out your cover letter, resume and references on the resume paper.

Some companies prefer you send an electronic version of your cover letter, resume and references. Check their submission requests as some employers prefer you send a Microsoft Word file, while others prefer an Adobe PDF.


Keep your cover letter and resume as short as possible. Most employers prefer one page, but it is understandable in some cases that it has to be two.


If you are sending multiple variations of your cover letter out, be sure you remember to change the name of who you are addressing it to and any details within it. Leaving in wrong information can result in your submission going into the trash.