Mohave Community College Libraries

Resumes & Cover Letters

pen and paper  What is a resume?                                      

A resume is your primary marketing tool. It is a professional document meant to get you a one-on-one interview that summarizes your plans, qualifications, and values to a potential employer. It primarily focuses on select aspects of your background and experiences that highlight your strengths and accomplishments. The resume is the first impression a prospective employer has of you, making it not only the first, but most crucial step you take in your job search. 

MCC Library Icon   The guidelines, examples and associated rubrics posted on this site were developed by Mohave Community College Libraries in an effort to provide basic information and minimum standards to individuals creating their first professional resume. This webpage is not intended to be a comprehensive, all-inclusive volume that addresses all possible variations of resumes.

Mohave Community College Libraries provides services and tools to students and alumni but is not responsible for any representations or guarantees with regard to securing employment.                                                                    

pen and paper  Analyze Yourself and Organize your Experience

Potential employers want to see what experience and skills you can bring to their company. Before you begin writing your resume, review and list all of the attributes you possess. During the writing process, you will hightlight the attributes most attractive to the target job you are applying for, along with any related experience and trainingMake sure to use the terminology of your new career field, and include the strengths and skills you have used to achieve your accomplishments. 

Your List Should Include:

  • Jobs you have held
  • Classes you have taken
  • Training
  • Certification
  • Honors 
  • Volunteer work
  • Clubs or activities that you have been involved in at school or the community
  • Specific accomplishments you have achieved
  • Mililtary service

 Remember - Save this list and add to it as your experience and skills continue to grow.

 What Skills Interest Employers?

Employers are most interested in the specific skills you have become proficient in, through your courses, leadership roles, volunteering, and work experiences as they relate to the job for which you are applying. Your resume should match your skills with the skills and keywords from the job listing. 

Employers want to know about your 

group meeting   Communication Skills    

  • Listening to customer needs
  • Explaining the benefits of products or services
  • Report writing; written documentation
  • Presentations to groups
  • Training others on practices and procedures
  • Critical analysis of information and its benefits
  • Successful resolution of conflicts with team members or of customer service issues

computer   Technological Skills 

  • Industry-specific knowledge and skills
  • Computer programming languages
  • Software packages specific to an industry or task
  • E-commerce related marketing
  • Publication of websites for business purposes
  • Design of databases or spreadsheets for information management

circle of people   Leadership Skills

  • Team building and participation experiences
  • Selecting others for a purpose or task
  • Working in collaboration with others of diverse backgrounds
  • Working independently with minimal supervision

flow chart   Organization and Planning Skills

  • Demonstration of initiative and motivation in projects or tasks
  • Flexibility and adaptability in handling new situations, ambiguity, or new cultures
  • Good work ethic and reliability
  • Ability to plan and organize multiple tasks or projects
  • Excellent customer service by anticipating customer needs
  • Ability to identify problems and provide solutions integrating facts from many sources
  • Ability to effectively weigh alternatives to choose the best course of action

Analyze the Job Description

One good way to help your resume stand out is to analyze the job description before you start. Assessing what the prospective employer is looking for can greatly help get your resume noticed. 

paper and magnifying glass   Keywords - for brainstorming your Resume, Cover Letter, Interview   

The way to get your resume "through the front door" is to make sure you use Keywords.

With so many people looking for jobs these days, employers are scanning resumes (either with a person or even a machine) to see how your resume matches up to their job opening. Resumes that appear qualified will go the next step - usually a human resources worker will review your resume. If a resume does not match enough of their qualifications, your resume is toast!

Keywords are the link to the most important qualities and qualifications an employer is looking for. It's no secret - all the information you need is right in their employment listing. When applying for a job, print out the ad. Look for all the important points and highlight these keywords. The "important points" could be about the culture of the company, the qualities they are looking for, and qualifications required. Here is an example: 

Actual Job Description with Keywords Highlighted and Underlined

"Want to build your career with a world-class company? You will receive comprehensive classroom and on the job training that will prepare you to investigate the facts of a claim with the ultimate goal of bringing a satisfactory resolution. A Fortune 500 company, XXX is one of the largest providers of personal auto insurance in the U. S. Working at XXX means having extensive career path opportunities and the chance to work with diverse, bright colleagues in an innovative, dynamic atmosphere, where results are rewarded. We're looking for someone who can work effectively with customers who've been in an accident while keeping an eye on the details. Primary Job Responsibilities: - Investigate the circumstances surrounding auto accidents. - Estimate the cost of repairs and value of injury claims. - Settle the claim. Knowledge and Skills: - Bachelor's degree or equivalent combined relevant work experience and/or post-secondary education required. (Relevant work experience includes a position requiring critical thinking, problem solving, serving customers, negotiating, effective written/verbal communication. Valid driver’s license required. "

paper and magnifying glass  The underlined words in the above ad are keywords that describe the company and their culture:

  • Large, successful (Fortune 500) personal auto insurance company
  • Employs diverse, bright people
  • Innovative, dynamic work atmosphere
  • Values ambitious people who want to move up in the company
  • Training is an important component

 What you want your resume and cover letter to reflect: (1) experience you've had with larger companies; (2) if you are innovative, creative, motivated; (3) past training or schooling. 

paper and magnifying glass  The highlighted areas show the qualifications and skills they are looking for:

  • Customer service skills
  • Goal oriented and results driven
  • Detail oriented
  • Critical thinking and investigation skills
  • Negotiating and problem solving skills
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills
  • Bachelor’s degree in no specific major (or combined equivalent education and experience)
  • Driver’s license        

 Make sure that these skills are emphasized on your resume (and cover letter), placing them prominently near the top if possible. Give examples in your work experience, education, volunteer sections to reflect your expertise in these areas. Don't forget to include any personal qualities that are outstanding - achievements, awards, good grades; any experience you have related to your new profession. 

Creating Descriptive Phrases

Choosing the best words to describe yourself and your experience are key to a successful resume. Make sure that you are presenting yourself in a way in which future employers will take notice and be impressed. Creating descriptive phrases will help your resume stand out. 

arrows and target  Accomplishment Statements

A common weakness found with first résumés is the absence of accomplishment statements. You need accomplishment statements because while it is easy to write on a résumé what tasks you did in a particular job, it is more challenging and important to show the reader your past ability to contribute to the productivity and/or profitability of the company.

A well-written accomplishment statement has two parts:

Outcome: The results or benefits that came as a result of your work. The outcome should be stated in terms of the value added, and in as tangible and quantified a manner as possible. To determine the outcome, you need to think of what would have happened if you did not do such a competent job. Example: if filing is not done in a timely fashion or items are misfiled, co-workers would not be able to find documents needed to provide good customer service.

Action: The action you took to achieve the outcome. What steps you took and what techniques and strengths you used. Be specific and use strong action verbs (refer to an 'Action Word Glossary' online).

Accomplishment statements show your strengths, instead of telling them. An employer may or may not believe you if your résumé includes the words “high achiever.” Employers will know you are a high achiever if your résumé includes specific examples such as:

  • “Saved $60 a year in service charges by proposing and acquiring a checking account at a new bank for Student Council.”
  • “Instituted class study group that increased average overall GPA from a 2.90 to a 3.30.”
  • “Increased membership in ABC student club by 50% through creative advertising.”

 A general guideline is to write at least one accomplishment statement for every job, but more importantly, each accomplishment statement should be tied to skills your target job requires. Each accomplishment statement should cover the most important aspects of your target job and relate directly to your job objective.

arrows and targetHow to Write Accomplishment Statements

  1. Always start with an action word.
  1. Good: “Responsible for leading team for classroom assignments.”
  2. Stronger: “Directed team of 3 classmates to complete assignments on time.”
  1. Use colorful and unique action words.
  1. Good: “Started a new program.”
  2. Stronger: “Created and implemented a new recycling program with 80% participation of employees.”
  1. Avoid wordiness and unnecessary adjectives.
  1. Good: “Coordinated 150 student housing volunteers for the 12th Annual “Day in Our Shoes” orientation program, which brings students that have been admitted to the College to one of the campuses for the day to learn about attending Mohave Community College after high school.”
  2. Stronger: “Coordinated 150 housing volunteers for the “Day in Our Shoes” program, which brings admitted students to campus for the day to learn about Mohave Community College.”
  1. Attempt to quantify at all times.
  1. Good: “Handled cash transactions.”
  2. Stronger: “Handled $1,000 in transactions weekly.”
  1. When different elements are significant to the accomplishment, put them together.
  1. Good: “Consistently met and exceeded answer and call time requirements, with a 99% accuracy rate.”
  2. “Achieved a 95% customer satisfaction rate.”
  3. Stronger: “Consistently exceeded answer and call time requirements, with 99% accuracy and 95% customer satisfaction.”
  1. State the benefit to the employer first, then what you did to accomplish that result.
  1. Good: “Developed a marketing strategy that increased student involvement 15%.”
  2. Stronger: “Increased student involvement 15% using a creative marketing strategy.”

  Remember to use only accurate facts and percentages. An employer may perceive “guessing” on your part as dishonesty and reason to disqualify you for the job.

arrows and target  How to Strength an Accomplishment Statement

 Poor    “Trained Employees”

red arrow

Good   “Trained new employees resulting in increased customer satisfaction.”

red arrow

Better   “Trained 15 new employees over a six-month period, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.” 

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Best    “Increased customer satisfaction 20% by providing effective training for 15 new employees in a six-month period.”

⇒  You may not have enough information to get every accomplishment statement to the “best” level, but get as close as possible for each one.

pen and paper Headings and Organization

A resume is formatted much like an outline with headings that highlight your education, experience, and skills. Each resume has anywhere from 5-6 headings under which information, used to market you, is summarized. 

Suggested headings:

  • Personal information: contains your contact information
  • Objective: focuses your goal and the goal of the job you are seeking
  • Summary of Qualifications: summarizes your experience and skills
  • Education: lists your complete educational background
  • Experience: summarizes past and current job descriptions and duties
  • Skills and/or Accomplishments: highlights and emphasizes your skills
  • Additional information: lists experiences not directly pertaining to any other heading

Organization of Headings

The headings of your resume are organized with your personal information at the very top, and all other headings organized in a combination of chronological and functional format, depending on your background, and your personal information.

Determining Organization:

  • Your education section should almost always immediately follow the objective statement. This is because your education is your current pursuit or most recent significant accomplishment.
  • If at all possible, use relevant experience to support your objective.
  • Experience can be paid or unpaid, an internship, or a substantial class project, volunteer positions, or positions held in clubs, etc.
  • If you do not have related experience, you should still list your employment background. This shows an employer that you have learned basic work ethics and skills such as taking responsibility, working cooperatively with co-workers, customer service, time management, or other characteristics that are important to any work environment. Think about skills you used that are transferable to a work setting.
  • If you have a certification or licensure (i.e., teaching certification, fitness certification, CPR, first aid, scuba divining, etc.) related to your career objective, include a "Certifications" or "Licensure" heading.
  • Place the certification or licensure section higher on your resume page; often it is right after education.  

Heading Content

papersPersonal Information

This heading includes accurate and complete contact information. Do not include a picture or personal information such as marital status, age, hobbies, etc.

  • First and last name centered and in large font at the top
  • List your permanent address (when applicable): street, city, state, zip code – limit to two phone numbers
  • Use a personal e-mail address that sounds professional with no underline or link


This heading is an option that focuses a resume and is used to state what kind of job you are seeking. Write a focused objective that reflects not only your goal but the goal of the organization to which you’re applying.

  • Keep it simple and specific
  • Include specific examples of your strengths, abilities, and qualifications (i.e., “public speaking experience and customer service skills,” not “experience and skills”)
  • Omit it if you can’t change your resume objective for every job opening you apply for

certificate   Summary of Qualifications

This heading is an option that can be used instead of, or in addition to, an objective. The summary of qualifications is a statement that summarizes your experience, areas of expertise, and skills.

  • 4-6 bulleted descriptive phrases
  • Phrases summarize the most important skills and experience you want to emphasize
  • Most summaries include the number of years experience you have in the field

graduation cap and diploma   Education

This heading includes complete and accurate information regarding education. Do not include primary or secondary education (middle school or high school). 

  • List your most recent education first
  • Spell out complete school name and bold (i.e., Mohave Community College)
  • Include location of school (i.e., Lake Havasu City, AZ)
  • Include expected graduation or date graduated (i.e., May 2015)
  • Spell out complete degree name (i.e., Physical Therapist Assistant, AAS)
  • Include major(s), minor(s), and concentrations of study
  • Include relevant course work that distinguishes you or is not an expected part of your major

post it notes  Experience

This heading includes a summary of your job descriptions and duties. Try to include statements of achievement and contribution as well as present your experience as it relates directly to your skills and experience the employer needs.

  • List most recent jobs first
  • Spell out and bold company names and include location (i.e., Lakeside Physical Therapy, Lake Havasu City, AZ)
  • State your job title, dates employed (preferably just years), and job description
  • Use short phrases and/or bullet points, not full sentences
  • Use action verbs/words to start each phrase or bulleted point
  • Use present tense to describe your current job and past tense for previous jobs

skills sign   Skills or Accomplishments

This is an optional heading that is specific to the position you’re applying for. Include this heading if you have a short work history and need to add to your resume.

  • Use to emphasize your skills instead of your work experience
  • Use if you’re changing careers and need to highlight transferable skills
  • Highlight the accomplishments that benefited your previous employers

resume  Additional Information

This heading includes leadership accomplishments and other information that does not precisely fit the needs of your resume or identified headings. This section may be placed before or after the work experience section depending on which section best represents you for the position.

  • Activities, skills, and accomplishments that could be listed:
    • Volunteer work
    • College activities
    • Internships
    • Certifications
    • Associations
    • Training
    • Relevant courses
    • Military service
    • Honors 

Reference Page and Design Elements

pen and paper Reference Page

Your list of references should be a separate sheet from your resume. It is not necessary to include the phrase “References available upon request.” Remember to always obtain permission from your references before using them. Tell them about the job you are seeking and verify what they will say. It is always a good idea to prepare your employment references before interviewing, so that you have a complete list ready to hand to the interviewer upon request. 


  • Format matches your resume
  • List 3-5 references
  • Use work references. Never use relatives for references
  • Include their name, job title, company name, address, e-mail address and at least one phone number

pen and paper  Design Elements

It is important that your resume is easy to read, and the design you choose plays a big part in that. A well-defined design suggests good organization. Avoid fancy or complicated fonts—simplicity is the key.

  • Font: Use a simple, easy to read font such as Times New Roman, Ariel or Calibri. 12 is the recommended setting for font size.
  • Section Headings: Should be placed left justified or centered and bold.
  • Bullet Points:  Use simple bullet points (such as the one used here) and keep your statements clear and concise.
  • Consistency: Keep all the elements of your writing the same: if you bold one title, bold all the titles; if you underline a title, underline all the titles.

⇒  Resist the urge to use this opportunity to showcase your creative talents. Avoid including pictures of yourself, pets, or hobbies in your resume.

resume  The Cover Letter, Example

John Doe
123 Acoma Blvd.
Lake Havasu City, AZ  86403
(123) 456-7890

January 30, 2015

Ms. Jane Smith
Physical Therapy Dept.
Company Name
1234 Main St.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

RE: Physical Therapist Assistant position

Dear Ms. Smith

I am applying for the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) position at Lakeside Family Therapy advertised on your website on January 12, 2015.

Currently, I am a student in the Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program at Mohave Community College with an expected graduation date of May 2015, and I believe that my experience and education will be an asset to your physical therapy department because:

  • I will be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam for PTA on July 8, 2015
  • I have over 900 hours of clinical experience as a physical therapy aide and over 80 observation/volunteer hours
  • As a healthcare provider, I am dedicated to helping patients achieve their goal in a timely fashion
  • My previous work experience reflects a self-starter attitude and willingness to work as a team player

I am looking forward to meeting with you to further discuss this work opportunity. At your convenience, you can contact me at (123) 456-7890 or via email at


John Doe

resume  The Cover Letter, Dissected

pen and paper                          Resume Writing Review

Do's for Your Resume Dont's for Your Resume
 1. Tell the truth  1. Copy your resume or have someone else make it
 2. Keep it short, simple, and error free  2. Lose track of jobs you've applied to
 3. Easy to read in 20-30 seconds  3. Use hard to fix templates
 4. Use keywords, stay relevant  4. Compromise your unique brand
 5. Tell your accomplishments with    explanations  5. Use pronouns (I, me, my)
 6. Highlight transferable skills  6. Give personal information like age, marital  information, or ethic background
 7. Use strong "action" verbs  7. Be boastful or self-serving
 8. Always include a cover letter  8. Use cliche's or weak verbs
 9. Explain what you can do for employer  9. Make the employer guess what job you're seeking
 10. Have one or more persons review it  10. Have any mistakes in spelling or misleading information