How to Write a Resume and Cover Letter

Typing on laptop

Resumes and cover letters are two vital documents to have when job searching. A cover letter and resume is often the first impression a potential employer has of you as these documents introduce who you are, along with your experience and skills.

When applying for a position, you may be asked to submit just a resume, or sometimes both a cover letter and resume. A strong, organized, and well-written resume and cover letter will help increase your chances of standing out among other applicants.

It is important to note that a resume and cover letter are two different documents that serve different purposes. Here are some tips to apply when crafting your resume and cover letter.


A resume is a summary of your qualifications to your potential employer. It provides details about your experience, accomplishments, and education.

Here is how your resume should be written and formatted:

  • Tailored to the position you're applying to
  • Have information and experience that are relevant to the desired position
  • Provide specific examples of accomplishments that include results
  • Include keywords from the job description
  • Each sentence begins with an action verb
  • Experience should be in chronological order with the most recent experience at the top
  • Use professional fonts (Times New Roman or Arial) with 10-12 font size
  • 1-2 page max

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a formal letter/email, usually sent with a resume, that introduces you to your potential employer and identifies the position you're applying to. A cover letter is more personal than a resume as it allows you to showcase a bit more of your personality, experience, and skills.

Here is what should be on your cover letter:

  • Tailored to the company and position you're applying to
  • Professional business heading
  • Addressed to a specific person
    • Use “Dear Hiring Committee” or “Dear Hiring Manager” if the job posting does not include a contact person
  • Strong introduction that catches the hiring manager’s attention, introduces yourself, and explain your interest in the position
  • Included in the introduction is where you heard about the position
  • At least two paragraphs with specific relevant work experience or skills that match with the requirements of the position
  • Talk about what you bring to the company and how you can help them, not how the position or company will help you
  • Concise conclusion with a call to action

SJPL Works: Resume and Cover Letter Programs

SJPL Works is a special unit within the San Jose Public Library that focuses on providing resources relating to career and business. For job seekers, SJPL Works has two special resume assistance programs.

Resume & Cover Letter Workshop

Every Monday - 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

A SJPL Works Business & Career Librarian will teach the essential elements of a successful resume and cover letter. This virtual workshop will include how to highlight your accomplishments and transferable skills in your resume, and what to include and what not to include in your cover letter.


Resume Review

Every Tuesday - 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Have your resume reviewed by a SJPL Works Business & Career Librarian. The resume review will be a 15 minute virtual one-on-one meeting, during which the Librarian will identify what needs to be improved and help organize your information.


Resume and Cover Letter Titles

Here are some select titles available at San Jose Public Library that can help you write your resume and cover letter.

Resumes, book cover
Modernize Your Resume, book cover
Knock 'em Dead Cover Letters, book cover
What Color Is your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Resumes, book cover
The Elements of Résumé Style, book cover

See more titles about resumes and cover letters here.