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Cover Letters

When should a cover letter be sent?  Always! There are few exceptions, like when you are applying online as instructed and there is no method for submitting a cover letter. Even then, why not mail it in with your resume?  This will ensure that they receive all of your application materials, even when technology has a glitch. Another exception might be Career Fairs. However, even then, including a cover letter with your resume proves to the employer that you’ve done your homework (it is customized for them after all) and that you are enthusiastic about the possibility of working for them.

Cover Letter Resources


Human Resources professionals repeatedly say that a resume, no matter how much experience one has, should be only one page long*. To accomplish this, start by creating a master resume with as many pages as needed, then copy and revise the copy to correspond with a specific job posting. Revisions involve developing an objective that matches the position desired, and changing the order and content of your resume based on this objective. Most relevant information should be moved near the top, and bulleted lists within each experience should be re-ordered as well. Finally, remove or edit down any information that is not at all relevant (without creating huge gaps in your history).

*  If you still have two pages after revisions, a two-page resume containing relevant material is appropriate. Also, the one-page resume is not appropriate for positions with the government nor does this apply to curriculum vitae (CV). A CV is more detailed than a resume and is commonly used by those looking for work outside the U.S. and by those looking for an academic job, i.e. in a college or university. 

Resume Resources:

The Angel group "Brandywine Career Services" contains resume snippets specifically for Penn State students.

Cover Letters and Resumes

University Park Career Services Resume & Cover letter webpage contains Curriculum Vitae tips (CV) and other types of letters to employers

Vault Career Insider – Subscription resource free to Penn State students containing guides such as:
Vault Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews
Vault Guide to Law Resumes

Students must create an account using their Penn State email address in order to be able to download guides.