A resume serves one purpose—to get you an interview. Most recruiters only spend 30-60
seconds reviewing your resume, so a good resume will say a lot with only a few words.
Your resume should represent your skills and your career potential, but it should
also convey your personality and tell your professional story. To an employer, a resume
is the answer to the question: “Who are you?”
What Can I Put on My Resume?
Where are you in the resume development process?
Your resume is a dynamic record of your achievements, which means it is always changing.
Your resume should change throughout your college career as you gain new experiences
and acquire new skills. For example, a freshman applying to become an Orientation
Leader might have a different resume than a junior looking for a summer internship
at a global company. When beginning your resume, it’s important to know where you
are in your educational career so that you can match your resume to fit your needs.
As a freshman, you might not have a lot to put on your resume, but if you stay involved
on campus and work hard to gain professional experience and internships, your resume
will gradually fill up. Since you won’t have many college experiences yet, it is fine
to include your high school extracurricular activities on your resume until you get
your first college level internship. Remember that even a seemingly small job can
reflect a valuable trait in you, and is appropriate for a resume. For example: being
a math tutor teaches patience and presentation skills. A busboy learns responsibility,
timeliness and the importance of quality.
Hopefully by junior year, you have accumulated a significant amount of experience
working in a part-time job, performing community service, engaging in leadership activities,
completing internships and serving as a TA for your best classes. You may also have
received some honorary distinctions, such as admission into a departmental honors
program or acceptance into a national honor society such as Golden Key or the National
Society for Collegiate Scholars. You likely have gained new skills and knowledge which
could be useful at a job. While an employer first looks at your qualifications and
relevant skills, writing, language, communication, and business skills are also important!
In fact, some employers consider these “soft skills” necessary qualifications. As
a junior or senior, you should be searching for a summer internship or full-time job
in your desired career field, and anything indicating your interest in that field
deserves a mention on your resume.
Take a moment to brainstorm. We’ll worry about organizing your thoughts when it’s
time to edit. Remember, while your finished resume should be concise, it’s equally
important that it be thorough. Take the time to consider the following elements. Be
as detailed as possible.
Include your full name, address, professional email, and phone number. You may also
choose to include links to ePortfolios or professional online profiles.
The objective statement of goals forms the basis of the targeted resume.
Detail your academic experiences and background. Include colleges attended, your degree(s),
majors/minors, and study abroad. Also include your anticipated graduation date. Cumulative
and/or major GPAs are optional, but sometimes requested by employers.
List scholarships, academic awards, and other recognitions you have received. If there
is only one, include it in the education section.
List courses and projects relevant to your objective statement.
Include relevant jobs, internships, or long-term projects you have completed in recent
years. Include company names, position titles, locations, dates, and your quantifiable
accomplishments as they relate to your objective. See Editing, Revision, and Review
for more detail.
Include skills you have that are transferable to a work setting. These may include
computer skills, foreign languages, or specific engineering, laboratory, or scientific
List any special certifications you might have in order of relevance, and the latest
date you renewed your certification. For example: EMT, CPR, PMP, Lifeguard.
List your extracurricular activities, clubs, affiliations, and volunteer activities.
Include any titles or positions you held, dates of employment, and short descriptions
of your accomplishments.
This section is intended to add depth to your resume and, ultimately, to the image
a potential employer forms of you. Use this section to list non-professional interests
and hobbies that might spark a personal connection between you and an employer. Be
ready to discuss these during an interview. Keep your interests clean, legal, and
Editing, Revision, and Review
Now that you’ve written down every credential you can think of, it’s time to take
a break. Stand up, stretch, and breathe. The worst of the process is over! Before
you begin the revision process, turn your attention elsewhere. Maybe take a quick
walk, have a snack, or take a nap. Put thoughts of a resume out of your head for an
hour or so.
You’re back and refreshed? Great! Take a moment to re-read what you’ve written. Check
for these common errors:
Run your word processing program’s spelling and grammar check.
Run a manual spelling check (meaning YOU read it).
There is no one best way to format a resume. A college student’s resume format often
depends on industry expectations, depth of experience, and personal preference. Here
are some basic formatting factors to keep in mind:
Use bulleted phrases beginning with action verbs.
Avoid computer-based templates because they offer minimal formatting flexibility.
Restrict fonts to the basics (Times New Roman, Arial) and size them for legibility.
Be consistent with stylistic formatting (i.e. bold, italic, underline, punctuation.)
Most college resumes should be no longer than one (1) page. (Some technical resumes
or resumes of experienced professionals may be longer).
And after that is all done, have your resume reviewed by the experts at the Career
Center. You can sign up for a time slot in
Handshake, appointments are approximately 15 minutes.
By now, you probably have an acceptable resume: free of spelling mistakes, glaring
errors, and formatting issues. The good news is that you are no longer embarrassed
to present this resume to an employer. However, you should keep in mind that while
many good resumes will get considered, only the best resumes will get interviews and,
eventually, jobs. Here are some techniques you can use to set your resume apart from
Most college students have little or no experience when they apply to their first
job or internship, so it should be no surprise that the majority of them will embellish
on some or all of their resumes. Be aware that many employers perform background checks
on applicants before considering them for a job, and these checks often include fact
checking on a resume. Ask yourself, “If an employer asked me about this on an interview,
would I be able to explain myself?” Do not put yourself at risk of losing the job
because of dishonesty.
There are two ways to format the first line of an experience: (1) emphasis on company,
and (2) emphasis on title. Decide whether your job titles or the company names are
more impressive. Put this descriptor first and add emphasis (bold, underline, font
size), followed by the second descriptor. Finish the line with the city/site you worked
in, and the dates of employment.
Example Experience Headers:
Lockheed Martin CorporationEngineering Assistant, Bethesda, MD
May 2015 – Aug 2015
EXECUTIVE TEAM LEADERTarget Corporation, New York, NY
Jan 2013 – Jan 2015
GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. Summer Intern, New York, NY
Jun 2014 – Aug 2014
Event CoordinatorStony Brook Community Service Club Spring 2017
How Many? How Long?
The number of bullets for a given experience on your resume depends on the relevance
of the experience. In this way, you can have as many bullets as you’d like, as long
as each bullet speaks to your qualifications for the job you are applying to. This
means that each experience on your resume will have a different number of bullets.
You will also find that some experiences will have no bullets. A typical relevant
experience includes between 3 to 6 bullets.
Avoid overly fancy pictures for bullets on your resume. A small dot (•) is usually
the safest choice.
When describing an experience, be sure to use the proper tense. If an experience on
your resume is current, use present tense. If you are no longer in that position,
use past tense.
A bullet summary is a concise description of what you learned and what skills you
used during an internship or job experience. When writing the bullet summary, it is
important to keep the employer in mind. Here are some points you might want to address.
What was the situation and what were you supposed to do?
How did you address the task? Add what specific methods you used.
What specific skills or knowledge did you use or learn?
What recognition or awards did you receive for your work?
What was the impact/result? How was the organization better because of you?
Try to quantify your results as much as possible. (Add facts and figures).
Market Research CoordinatorThermarkLaser Marketing, Pittsburgh, PA Jan 2010 – Jan 2012
Led a marketing team of four to design, present and implement promotional campaigns.
Conducted market research, presented findings to management, and held promotional
Year over year marketing analysis reports documented a 15% avg. increase in sales
Gained experience in auditing of financial statements, and applications of risk assessment.
Aided auditor with analytical reviews, conducted research, and contributed to analysis
Received "Intern of the Week” award based on performance and supervisor reviews.
Depending on the kinds of jobs/internships you are applying to, you may want to consider
different ordering of sections. For example, if you are an engineer, computer scientist
or lab technician, your skills may be more relevant than your community service. A
college student’s education section typically goes after the objective statement,
so these technical students may want to put skills right below their education. An
education major looking to join the Peace Corps may want to put leadership/community
service before relevant coursework, or skills. These are general guidelines; every
resume should be treated as an individual case.
After all this is done, take one last look at your resume. Be sure that it is not
taxing on the eyes, and that the resume evokes the interest of the reader in less
than five seconds. Make sure that the reader’s eyes are drawn to the important points.
Do not emphasize too many lines on the resume, which may confuse the reader as to
which are the most important. Make sure it is clean and uncluttered. Add extra lines,
spaces, and horizontal bars when reading becomes difficult.
Finally, print out the resume and pass it around. You’ll find that each person has
a different point of view and that you can learn from them all. Your resume is never
fully ‘complete,’ and it will need to be reviewed and updated regularly. Remember
that the resume review process is a cycle, not a linear procedure.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a targeted letter that introduces you and your resume to a specific
prospective employer. Cover letters are often required by employers as part of a job
application along with a resume and sometimes, work samples. Even when not specifically
requested by an employer, they are highly recommended. As the first communication
between you and a prospective employer, a cover letter should convey professionalism
and strong written communications ability while introducing yourself and explaining
A good cover letter will be based on the job description and match your skills and
experience to company needs. The best cover letters work to complement their respective
resumes—not to repeat them. Remember that while both resumes and cover letters help
employers form their first impressions of you as a professional, a cover letter can
offer additional insight as to who you are and how you might fit in with the company’s
organization and goals.
A cover letter ‘covers’ your resume, so it is always accompanied by one. A cover letter
is used to apply for or inquire about a job or internship opportunity and complements
an impressive resume. Because a cover letter ‘covers’ a resume, it is often the first
thing an employer will read. This is why a cover letter is typically included in the
body of an e-mail rather than as an attachment. A good cover letter is a good incentive
for an employer to read your resume.
Types of Cover Letters
An application letter is written when applying to a job or internship. Along with
a resume, it typically accompanies a job application form. The main difference between
application cover letters and prospecting cover letters is that an application letter
is written for a specific job or internship position.
A prospecting letter is used to inquire about possible opportunities when none are
advertised. It is also sent with a resume, but does not address a specific job opening.
When writing a prospecting letter, you should state specific knowledge of and interest
in the company or program you are inquiring about, then describe the skills and knowledge
you offer that could add value to the company.
Cover Letter Components
The heading of a cover letter details both your contact information and your employer’s
contact information. Start with your contact information, then post the date followed
by the employer’s name, title and full address (street address with city, state, zip).
End the heading with a salutation and a colon, not a comma. Make every effort possible
to find the name of a specific contact, recruiter or Human Resources (HR) representative.
If there is absolutely no contact, you may address the letter to the HR department
of the company. For example: “Dear AXA Equitable Human Resources Director.” Be sure
not to include ordinal superscripts. (Feb 1, 2010 instead of Feb 1st, 2010).
Briefly introduce yourself. Then get straight to the point. If you are writing an
application letter, state the specific position you are applying for. If it is a temporary
job or internship, you may want to include the term of employment. (“I am applying
to the New York Target Corporation Project Management Internship for the summer of
2011.”) Be sure to state your interest in the company or opportunity. This interest
may relate to your major, course of study or area of expertise. You should also state
how you found out about the company or program. End the introduction paragraph with
a smooth transition into the body paragraph where you will explain your qualifications.
The body is where you describe your qualifications and explain how they make you a
good fit for the company and job. Highlight your most relevant experiences, tying
each qualification back to the company or duties of the position you are seeking.
Remember to address the WIIFT question. (‘What’s in it for them?’) You may also use
the body of your letter to describe in more detail what you know about the company
that makes it an especially attractive opportunity for you (after you have researched
the company website of course).
The last paragraph is the part of the cover letter that is most important for conveying
your professionalism. You may want to reference your resume in this section and leave
the employer with a few closing remarks. After this, show your appreciation for being
given the opportunity to apply/write to the employer. State your follow-up plan. (“You
are welcome to contact me at your convenience,” or “Please expect a follow-up call
from me next week regarding the program.”) End the letter with a ‘thank you’ statement.
End with a complimentary close such as “Sincerely.” (Spell it correctly!) Sign the
document and finish with your name in print below.
A Note About Sending Cover Letters
Most of the time, you will be sending cover letters by e-mail. When submitting a letter
or application in this manner, put your cover letter in the body of the e-mail and
attach your resume as a .pdf document. (You can do this by using the ‘Save As’ function
in Microsoft Word.) Be sure to follow an employer’s instructions when filling in the
subject line. If an employer does not specify subject line instructions for submitting
applications, write the word “Application,” the position you are applying for/inquiring
about, a dash “-“ and your name.
Subj: Application: Northwestern Mutual Financial Representative – Kang
The subject line is extremely important when sending a job application or prospecting
letter through e-mail. The subject line determines whether your e-mail will be opened
and ultimately, considered. Be sure to follow employer guidelines exactly where specified.
When sending a cover letter by mail, affix a hand written signature above your printed
name. Be sure the letter is postmarked before any application dates. Note the differences
in formatting in the Cover Letter format page. Be sure to include all necessary documents
in your envelope. It is recommended that you print your resume and cover letter on
professional resume paper (available at any office supply store).
Cover Letter Format & Samples
Your street address Your city, state zip Your area code & phone number Your e-mail address
email: skip 1 line/ /mail: skip 1 – 3 lines
email: skip 1 line/ /mail: skip 1 – 3 lines
Contact’s name (correctly spelled) Job title or department Company Name Street Address City, state zip
skip 1 line
Dear Name: [Use a colon, not a comma] [Use Mr. or Ms. Avoid Mrs. Or Miss.]
skip 1 line
Why are you writing? Who referred you (if anyone)? How did you learn of the company,
opportunity or program? What are you looking for?
skip 1 line
Body of Letter:
Express your knowledge of the organization and your ability to perform the job or
work in the company. Highlight the parts of your background that relate to this employer/position.
Also, highlight skills or accomplishments that make you a good match for the position/company.
Be specific to the job/title you are applying for/inquiring about!
skip 1 line
State the action you expect. For example: “You are welcome to contact me at your convenience,”
“Please expect a follow-up call from me next week regarding the program.” (If you
promise to call, remember to call!) Express your appreciation. Say thank you!
skip 1-2 lines
email: omit/ /mail: skip 3-4 lines for your written signature
Your name typed
55-55 Apple Street Bronx, NY 10469 fatiya.alam @stonybrook.edu (361) 555-8490
January 31, 2012
Mark Woltman The Public Advocate’s Office for the City of New York 1 Centre Street, 15th floor New York, NY 10007
Dear Mr. Woltman:
It is with great interest that I would like to apply for the Policy and Research Internship
with your office for the summer of 2012. I have completed my B.S. in Public Health
Administration and will be completing my M.A. in Public Policy in May 2013 at Stony
Brook University. I believe this position would allow me the opportunity to use my
experience to greater serve the community, as well as allow me to develop my career
as a public servant.
Throughout my graduate career at Stony Brook, I have gained valuable work experience
in public policy, including serving as a graduate assistant for the university’s office
of diversity and affirmative action. In this position, I work closely with the president’s
office to research, develop and promote public and institutional policy. I also sit
on the board of the coordinating committee of the National Cancer Awareness Symposium,
hosted annually by the Stony Brook School of Medicine. I am confident that these experiences
make me a qualified candidate for the Policy and Research position.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I am available full time for 8 – 12 weeks
this summer starting May 25 and I can be reached through the contact information above.
Samples of my work and any additional application materials are available upon request.
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to apply for this position.
22-31 110 Street New York, NY 10020 Phone: (917) 555-2509 matt.longman @stonybrook.edu
February 12, 2010
Robert C. Kalhoun Managing Director of Sales Enterprise Rent-A-Car 2510 Middle Country Road Centereach, NY 11720
Dear Mr. Kalhoun:
Earlier this week, I came across an article in the Vault online library about Enterprise
Rent-A-Car and its Management Training Program. I would like to inquire about any
possible openings in the program for this summer. I was impressed to learn that Enterprise
has been named one of the ‘50 best places to launch a career’ by BusinessWeek for
the past four years and that its unique culture and approach to internships have helped
hundreds of interns develop their management careers in a real working environment.
I am currently an undergraduate student at Stony Brook University and will be graduating
this May with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in business management. In addition
to the scientific research that I have completed through my course of study, I have
also gained considerable management experience through business-related internship
and leadership roles. For example, I served as an executive intern for Target Corporation
last summer and worked as a student manager for campus dining services during the
school year, managing a team of 10 – 15 student workers at a time.
Enclosed is my resume for your review. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss
my qualifications with respect to the training program. You may contact me at your
convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.
You’ve gotten yourself an interview! Congratulations! You’re well on your way to securing
an awesome job. An interview is simply an employer’s way of getting to know the candidates
for a job, so they may select the best fit for their organization’s needs. Think of
an interview as a final examination. It’s your chance to show a potential employer
that you’ve got what it takes to be a part of their organization. Like any examination,
the interview is best taken when you’re well prepared. While there’s no way of knowing
exactly what questions you will be asked (just like a college final!) you can follow
10 simple rules to help you give your best performance possible!
The 10 Commandments of Successful Interviewing
In the Days Before Your Interview
One thing you can be sure of: nearly all the questions you will be asked on your interview
will be about YOU. It is important to remember that the only thing your interviewer
knows about you is what is listed on your resume. Be prepared to explain each point
Sharing stories is an incredibly important part of the interviewing process. An employer
isn’t just looking for a person with a certain skill set, but someone who can provide
examples of how she applied her skills in a professional setting. Take some time and
write down your biggest triumphs from past jobs. These stories could be about projects
you completed, group-work you led, even a story about how you overcame a weakness.
If you’re having some trouble getting started, refer to the
Self-Help Interview Resources section.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has things they’re good at and things
they’re bad at. Being able to recognize both is important for the interviewing process
as employers are looking for candidates who are self-aware. Single out your three
strongest skills and be ready to share a story about how you applied them in a professional
environment. Be prepared to discuss a weakness with a story about how you are working
to improve/overcome it.
Know where you’re going. Employers want goal-oriented employees. Ask yourself where
you see yourself in the future. What do you still want to learn after you graduate?
What sorts of projects do you want to undertake, and how will this job help you realize
Also know why you’re interested in the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying
for a job “just because,” you’re going to sound incredibly unenthusiastic to your
interviewer and are probably not going to get hired (or even interviewed again). Be
prepared to explain how this position fits your career goals.
Who are the major companies in your industry? If you’re applying for a job at Staples,
you’ll probably also want to know what Office Max and Office Depot are up to! Pay
attention to industry-specific current events, especially mergers, new regulations,
newcomers to the market, IPOs, etc.
Visit the employer’s website. Find answers to the following questions:
What does the organization sell/manufacture/do?
Who do they serve?
What is the organization’s mission statement?
Where is the organization’s headquarters? Regional branches? YOUR branch?
Who is the CEO of the organization? Your regional manager? What is the position of
the person who is interviewing you?
Is it a public or private organization?
When was the organization founded and how has it expanded over the years?
What are some new projects the organization has under development?
From this research, prepare a list of questions to ask the person interviewing you.
The questions you ask have the ability to teach the recruiter more about you.
The Career Center is here to help! We offer both interviewing skills workshops and
mock interviews throughout the semester to help you become the strongest candidate
possible. Call to schedule an appointment (631-632-6810).
The Day of Your Interview
The most important thing you can do for the day of your interview is get 8 hours of
sleep the night before. Being well rested the day of your interview will help you
be more alert, more relaxed and more personable.
The second most important thing is to have a good breakfast. Treat yourself to a hearty,
protein-rich breakfast to give you a boost of energy without jitters!
The third most important thing is to have a well-polished look. Dress professionally!
Dressing professionally does not have to mean dull, stiff or boring. You can still
explore your personal style within an atmosphere that requires professional dress.
When putting together an interview ensemble, remember one simple rule –
quality over quantity. Employers understand that you, as a college student, have limited funds. You don’t
need to drop your life savings on a closetful of interview clothes when one great
suit and a few nice shirts will do.
There are no set laws for dressing for your interview. Different industries have different
expectations for candidates. The information on the
Build Your Brand page is an excellent starting point, especially for most non-technical and non-fashion
When getting dressed the day of your interview, be sure to double-check with your
prospective employer whether you’re expected to wear “Business Formal” or “Business/Smart
This requires no explanation. You should know exactly where your interview is and
plan multiple routes to get there in case traffic problems force you to take a detour.
You should be walking in the door 15 minutes before your interview is scheduled to
start. Part of success is being there on time! Keep your interviewers contact information
readily available in the event you experience something unexpected during your travel
(ie. flat tire/train delays), this will allow you to contact the recruiter before
you are late and can demonstrate responsibility.
Remember that your interview begins when you arrive. How you treat others and how
you behave while waiting may be noted even if the official 'interview' has not yet
There are four types of interviews you will be facing over the course of your career:
screening, in-depth (technical), behavioral and group interviews. You should approach
each interview with confidence, poise, sharp dress and respect.
The Screening Interview – Typical of On-Campus Recruiting and the first interview, a Screening Interview
is typically a short-duration interview designed to eliminate poorly qualified candidates
from further employment consideration. These interviews are frequently conducted by
a organization’s human resources or recruiting department and are based on general
questions to measure how well a candidate will fit with the organization.
The In-depth/Technical Interview – These interviews are almost always held in the building where you’ll be working
and are led by a supervisor or hiring manager. Questions will be job-specific and
designed to determine the extent of your knowledge of the industry and your skills.
The Behavioral Interview –This technique is used by interviewers to get a candidate to tell specific stories
about past professional experiences. Often these will end up coupled with Screening
Interview questions. For example: “Many of your projects will involve working closely
with technology professionals. Are you comfortable with working in groups? Have you
ever worked with professionals in a previous job?” These questions can also focus
on using specific job skills to complete projects.
Sometimes you may be asked to perform a simple task to demonstrate your skills. For
example, you may be asked to make a mock phone call to a customer.
The Group Interview – Two or more interviewers will be asking questions to a group of several applicants
at one time. Questions may be asked of the entire group, or one or two candidates
only. Be sure when answering a question that you meet eyes with every member of the
interviewing panel. Also treat your fellow candidates with respect; you never know
which of them you may end up working with…or FOR!
You should also be aware that organizations might decide to have you interview with
multiple people throughout the day. Do not schedule other important meetings or appointments
on the day of your interview, because you don’t know how long you’re going to be there.
Remote Interviews - Increasingly interviewers are utilizing technology to conduct interviews. Whether
your interview is over the phone or via video chat, you will want to set yourself
up for success. Find a place that is quiet and will have limited interruptions during
the interview time. Make sure that your phone or laptop is charged to be able to complete
the interview. Choose a location that has a clean simple background, you would not
want the recruiter to be focused on the messy bedroom behind you during the interview.
If your interview is via a video chat, you should dress the same way as you would
for an in-person interview.
Being confident does not mean not being nervous! It simply means pretending to not
be nervous. Before you step into the interview, take a moment of introspection. You
already feel great because you had a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast, and
you look great because you’re rocking your best clothes! You look just like (fill
in your favorite celebrity)! Now get in there and act like it!
During your interview, pay attention to your body language. Are you sitting up straight?
Are you in control of your nervous habits (hand wringing, leg shaking, etc.)? Are
you making eye contact with the person you’re talking to? Most importantly, are you
Also pay attention to what you’re saying. Are you speaking slowly, at a good volume
and enunciating? Do you understand what questions the interviewer is asking, and are
you responding appropriately? (Don’t be afraid to ask an interviewer to clarify something
you don’t understand!) Are you spinning even your most negative experiences in a positive
manner? Are you comfortable with pausing briefly in your speech to collect your thoughts
without saying “like” or “um”?
Every interview is going to end with the following question: “Do you have any questions
for me?” Don’t be caught off guard by this! You should have a list of questions about
the organization, position and the application process prepared when you enter the
interview. Use these questions as a chance to show an employer just how interested
you are in this position!
Ask the interviewer things about the company you’re curious about based on your research.
Ask what projects you may be assigned if you get the job.
Ask about employee development programs.
Ask how your work will be evaluated.
Ask about the future of the department and how your position fits in with the bigger
Ask your interviewer for his/her card and the next steps in the interviewing process.
DO NOT ASK ABOUT SALARY AND BENEFITS
After Your Interview
At the conclusion of your interview, ask if there’s anything else you need to do to
complete the application process. The last thing you should say to an interviewer
is always, “Thank you, it was very nice to meet you. I am excited about this opportunity.”
Remember to make eye contact and offer a firm handshake.
On your way out, thank everyone who helped you find your way. Do not linger to chat!
As soon as you get home, e-mail the person who interviewed you a thank you letter.
Refer to the
sample thank you letter on this page for help.
Arguably the most important part of the interviewing process is thanking the person
afterwards. This small show of appreciation takes no more than 5 minutes and demonstrates
to your interviewer that you are serious and professional.
E-mail subject: Thank you for interviewing me.
Dear Mr. Smith,
I want to thank you again for interviewing me for the Web Design position at Awesome
Enterprises. It was a pleasure meeting you and getting to know your company better.
I am excited about this job opportunity and hope to speak with you about it soon.
References & Letters of Recommendation
References and letters of recommendation both involve your professional mentors putting
a good word in for you when you’re applying for something, be it a job or a graduate
program. However, they are used at different times.
A references sheet is a short list of contact information for 3-4 of your past professors or supervisors
whom an employer can call and speak to about your qualifications and professionalism.
It is something employers will ask for during the interview process, and it does not
require any written work on your mentors’ part.
Letters of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation is a formal letter written by a professor (or sometimes
a past supervisor) that discusses your qualifications, and is usually a required part
of graduate, medical, or law school admissions (and sometimes applications for internships,
scholarships, and other opportunities.) As letters of recommendation are formal written
documents, you are required to give your professors advance notice if you’d like them
to write for you. Please visit the
graduate school page of our site for more information about letters of recommendation.
A reference sheet is a document that lists the contact information of people who can
attest to your professionalism, skills, and experience. Employers typically ask for
references after an interview, and will take your references’ words into account when
deciding whether to hire you. It is in your best interest to have a list of professionals
ready to advocate for you during the job hunting and hiring process.
Your references should be people who are familiar with your work and who know you
Past supervisors, former professors, and advisors are the best references to provide.
You may also include clients and subordinates as references.
You want your references to be people who are acquainted with you in a professional
environment. Friends and family are not acceptable references unless specifically
requested by the employer.
Choose references who have a positive impression of you. They should be familiar with
your personality and interests.
Leave out bosses or professors you do not have a good relationship with. For example,
a professor who gave you a B freshman year whom you haven’t spoken to since would
not be a good choice. Rather, a professor whose class you did well in and with whom
you’ve kept in contact regularly would be a great choice.
Take their personalities into account. Choose references who can speak comfortably
about your experience and career goals. Make sure your references are people who you
believe can deliver an articulate and positive portrayal of you.
Speak to all of your potential references before giving their names to employers.
Remind them of your career goals. Be courteous when asking for a reference.
Depending on their enthusiasm or hesitation, you should determine who would make a
suitable reference for you and who would not.
Some people might be too busy or might not feel they know you well enough to provide
a reference. If you sense that they’re not enthusiastic, don’t list them. You want
your references to be enthusiastic advocates for you in the job market.
Ask for the contact information and time frames they would like to be reached at.
Never give away their contact information without asking.
Always notify your references when you have upcoming interviews, and tell them briefly
about the positions for which you are applying so that they can be better prepared
to speak for you. Give them copies of the resumes you’re submitting so that they know
which skills of yours to emphasize.
Your reference sheet should be
one page and should contain
three contacts, although you can add more if you’d like. Sometimes an employer will specify how
many references they want.
Use the same header (including your name and contact information) and font you used
on your resume for consistency.
List the most relevant references first. If you’re applying to grad school, list professors
at the top; if you’re applying for a job, list present/past employers at the top.
Include each reference’s name, place of work, title, address, contact information
(phone/email) and a brief description of their relationship to you.
Keep your reference sheet easy to read and concise.
During your college career, it is important to develop relationships with professors,
counselors, and supervisors—not only will these contacts help you get through your
college years, they can become valuable references for you when you start applying
Attend your professors’ office hours; engage them in talk about their careers or research,
and tell them what kinds of fields you’re interested in.
Developing a close relationship with professors in your field of interest is especially
useful, but even professors who are not directly linked to your career goals can be
excellent mentors and references.
If you develop a good relationship with a potential reference, don’t let it die out.
Keep in touch each semester; let them know how you’re doing and what your interests
are, and visit them occasionally.
You want to make sure your references know you well enough to talk about you to employers.
But don’t visit them so often that you annoy them!
For freshmen who are just starting out and looking for jobs, consider asking your
old high school teachers to be your references. Follow the same advice when asking
teachers to be references and choosing which teachers would give you the strongest
As you develop relationships with your professors at Stony Brook, you will remove
your old high school teachers from the list and add the professors closest to you
If you follow these steps, you’ll have yourself a great list of references by the
time you’re ready to apply for jobs and graduate school! Remember, the reference sheet
is something that you should usually only provide if an employer asks for it. Bring
copies to all your job interviews and feel confident knowing that you have great mentors
helping you out behind the scenes!