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How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

A UC Davis alumni guide to writing your resume and cover letter

In today’s competitive market, your resume and cover letter need to be a focused, concise summary of your qualifications, customized for the specific position for which you are applying.

Your resume is a critical marketing tool that presents your accomplishments, strengths and experience to prospective employers.

Your cover letter explains who you are, what your qualifications are and why an employer should want to spend valuable time meeting you in person.

No matter if you are looking for your first job out of college or are an experienced job seeker, the resources below – courtesy of the UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Association – are here to help. And don’t forget about the amazing network of fellow Aggies within your chosen industry; they can help you learn about specific keywords to use on your resume and cover letter in order to stand out to recruiters.

Tips for writing a great resume or CV

Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume, what is right for you? Click here for a great description of each option.

A well-written resume highlighting your most relevant qualifications for the job will help you get selected for an interview. Above all, your resume needs to be consistent, concise and easy to read.

You should tailor your resume or CV to show you are a good fit for the position. You will need to clearly understand the mission, focus, goals and objectives of the organization and job that you are applying to. Research is key. Follow these three steps for success from the UC Davis Internship and Career Center:

  1. Brainstorm and Collect Experiences/Skills
  2. Tailor and Format
  3. Submit

Tips for writing a great cover letter

The cover letter acts as your introduction to a prospective employer. Highlight your enthusiasm for the position and clearly explain why your previous job, internship, and/or skills are a good fit for the employer. You should always include a cover letter with your application unless specifically told not to by the employer.


  • your contact information
  • the date
  • a greeting 
  • a few paragraphs highlight qualifications and examples
  • a summary of qualifications

For more do’s and don’ts of cover letter writing check out the UC Davis Internship and Career Center’s tips here.

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