Career & Professional Development

The School of Graduate Studies seeks to help students achieve their professional potential both in and out of the classroom. Because this enduring task must be tailored to, and work for, a wide array of backgrounds and needs, the School of Graduate Studies has assembled a menu of resources. In addition, the School of Graduate Studies sponsors regular seminars covering a range of topics all intended to help students on their diverse professional journeys. Our students can partake in the School of Graduate Studies Career & Professional Development Seminars on campus or remotely. 

Our 2019-20 career and professional development seminar series is under development. Please contact graduatestudies@western.edu to suggest your topics!

A resume is the unique professional summary you will build upon your whole life. Employers read it to evaluate your experience, skills and achievements. The primary goal of your document is to communicate why you are qualified for the position you are seeking.

Where to start?

  1. Brainstorm: Focus on your experiences that are most relevant to the position: work, internships, practicum, academic, research, project-based, extra-curricular and leadership-based.
  2. Format: Craft a one-page document unless you exceed five years of professional work experience. Do not be tempted by the convenience of a template or wizard! Start with a blank Word document and build your resume line-by-line. Assume a clean, consistent look: 10-12 point font, 0.75”-1” margins all around.
  3. Content: Use action verbs to grab the reader’s attention. Avoid passive language, such as “duties include.” Quantify and qualify your experiences to convey the complexity of tasks. Include accomplishment statements that demonstrate the results of your efforts. Avoid clichés and vague or empty descriptors. Include relevant master degree coursework, thesis title, publications, student assistantships, internships, course project work and examples of leadership. Include relevant professional associations and certification
  4. Heading: Your heading will contain your name and basic contact information. An email address and contact number are standard. Mailing address has long been a resume staple, but in the era of digital communications, it is increasingly common not to include a postal address. You may also include a link to your LinkedIn profile or online portfolio. This heading should match exactly the heading on your cover letter and reference sheet.
  5. Categories: Three to five is the norm. EDUCATION (at top), WORK EXPERIENCE, LEADERSHIP, SKILLS. You will list your experiences in each category in reverse chronological order. Within each job, you will author three to five relevant bullets in descending order of importance. Consider beginning with a scoping sentence—your 10,000-foot view of your role.
  6. Visit the Resume Checklist at western.edu/career-services

Your cover letter invites the hiring committee to read your resume and tells them why you are the best person for the position. It also may cover high-level information or relevant specifics that you might want to give extra attention.

  1. Compose: Prepare to write your cover letter by highlighting aspects of a job description you are qualified to perform. Jot down examples of work, volunteering, coursework, etc. Tell a story that shows how you match the job requirements.
  2. Format: Use the same header, font and margins as your resume. Use formal salutations. Single space paragraphs with a double space in between are recommended. One page is usually sufficient. 
  3. Content: Consider a three- to five-paragraph letter with an introduction that connects you to the reader, middle paragraphs that feature experiences that match what the employer is seeking and a closing paragraph that indicates how you will contribute.
  4. Tone: Adopt a tone that mirrors the organization’s culture. Highlight strengths without embellishing.
  5. Proof: Print, check and read your letter out loud. Have at least two peers read your cover letter and resume for errors.
  6. More Helpful Links

LinkedIn [dropped the all-caps, toggle tag]

Build a great LinkedIn profile to network and build your professional brand. LinkedIn has created targeted videos, handbooks and one-sheets just for students.