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Career Correspondence

Once you have investigated your career fields and the positions that interest you you will need to begin drafting and sending out Resumes. A cover letter should accompany each resume and every interview should be followed up with a thank you letter. We have provided these examples and details to assist with this part of the process.

Resumes    Cover Letters    Thank You's    Respond to Offers

Writing Résumés

A resume is a personalized document that describes your qualifications for a position. Employers use the information in resumes to effectively screen candidates and determine which candidates to consider further. Given this, best practice is to create a modified version of your resume for each position for which you apply. This version should be tailored to the specific requirements for that position, and highlight your relevant roles and accomplishments.

Resume Formats:

Chronological: A chronological resume includes sections of work experience and educational history beginning with your most recent and going into your past history. This approach is best suited for those who have extensive, continuous experience in the area in which they are seeking employment.
Functional: The functional resume focuses on relevant skill areas as opposed to chronological work history. This format can be helpful for those who are moving into a different field/industry and whose work history may not be related to their current career goals. The functional resume also limits the use of dates, so it may be a good format choice for those with gaps in employment.
Combination: A combination-style resume is similar to the functional resume format in that it focuses on skills, but it also includes work history and experience. The combination resume can be a powerful way to capture both relevant skill areas and related work history.

Tips for Crafting a Resume

First and foremost, determine the intent for your resume. Ask yourself: Who is my audience? What industry or position am I targeting?
The more you refine the plan for your resume, the more you can create a focus and tailor it to that desired position or field. Some people choose to create a master resume, which captures all work history and education in as much detail as possible. The intent with this resume is to house as much information as possible, and then create modified, targeted resumes from the master resume. You would not send out a master resume when applying for jobs, as it would likely be much too long and not specific to any particular position.
Numbers are powerful!
Using numbers to quantify information in your resume can be helpful in providing employers evidence of tangible results of your work. Think about times when you may have increased or decreased something (%), saved time or money, supervised personnel, improved efficiency, ranked highly amongst your peers, and so on. Consider how the last position you held is better for you having been in that role. Your OERs may give you some good examples of quantifiable information.
Most resumes should be one page.
Exceptions to this are resumes for federal government positions, resumes used to apply graduate school or for scholarships, and those more academically focused. Adhering to one page may be challenging, but can be accomplished by keeping your resume focused on the position for which you are applying and limiting your experience to the last 10 years. If you must go to two pages, it is best to go to two full pages.
Keep it simple!
Using a word processing software to create your resume is a solid approach. Avoid using templates found in computer software programs or found online as they may not transfer well if you submit your resume electronically. In addition, templates can be restrictive, and if you attempt to change portions of the document and shift sections, maintaining your desired format may become challenging. Simple and conservative is best!
Always refer to the application instructions, but it is wise to save your finalized resume as a PDF to avoid unwanted changes when applying electronically.
Resume Format Basics
Font: Size 11-12 is preferred, with the exception of your name, which should be slightly larger and/or all capital letters. It is not recommended to use font    smaller than size 10 as this makes your resume difficult to read. Keep your font choice simple: Times New Roman or Calibri. Margins: Ensure they are even. 0.5-1 inch margins are recommended. Aim for adequate white space in balance with the text, as this can improve readability.  Length: Most resumes should be one page. Headings: Be consistent with heading fonts and format. Common resume headings: Identification Section, Profile or Summary Section, Education, Experience
What to Avoid on a Resume
Salary requirements, unless specifically  requested as part of the application. Personal information. It’s best to leave this type of information off of your resume unless you can connect it to the job posting or employer. For  example, if you’re applying for a position that requires international travel, you may want to list travel as one of your interests or hobbies.  Negative information about a position or employer.  Spelling and grammatical errors. Take the time to have your resume reviewed prior to sending it out.  Excess information. Keep the resume  concise, clear, and well organized.

The Cover Letter

Including a cover letter with your application is one more opportunity to illustrate your qualifications for the position. Unless specifically directed not to do so, we recommend including a cover letter with each set of application materials.
Cover Letter Tips:
Be specific! Much like the resume, each cover letter should be tailored to the specific company/position for which you are applying. Show the employer that you have done your research and communicate how you will fulfill their needs. Try to address the letter to the individual responsible for hiring for the position. If you cannot find that information,  using, “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Search Committee,” etc., (as appropriate) is acceptable.
Keep it short: Cover letters are typically three or four paragraphs and less than one page. The exception is an academic cover letter, which may be considerably longer. Most cover letters are paragraphs, but using bullet points in the body of your cover letter can work well, too.
Go beyond qualifications: Your cover letter should not be simply your resume in paragraph form. It is the place to communicate your enthusiasm for the organization/position, as well as highlight significant achievements that best speak to the employer’s needs.
Online applications: If the cover letter will be attached and sent electronically, it is recommended that you send it as a PDF or other easily opened file. If you are sending your materials as an email, the cover letter would be the body of the email (without the header), not sent as an attachment.

Recommended Format (If being sent as an attachment, use standard business format):
Your address
Hiring authority’s name, title, and address
Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself and state that you would like to be considered for a specific position. If someone who works for the organization referred you for the position, the opening paragraph is an appropriate place in which to mention that referral. Try to grab the reader’s attention in a professional manner.
Paragraph 2: Summarize your qualifications, relating them to the published job requirements (if available), as well as the more general needs of the employer, as you understand them.
Paragraph 3: Thank the reader for considering your application. State that you will call in a week or so to ensure your letter and resume have been received and to provide additional information, if necessary. Provide your contact information.

Writing Thank You Notes

The day after the interview, send thank you notes to the lead interviewer (and others whom you would like to thank). These days, email is acceptable; however, a neatly handwritten or typed note makes a good impression.

In the note, thank your interviewers for their time and for the opportunity to learn about the position and tell them about your capabilities. Let them know you remain very interested (if that's true).

Also, think back to the interview and recall any instances when an interviewer seemed unsatisfied with an answer you gave. In your thank you note (or enclosed with it), clarify or expand upon your answer.


John J. James
12 Center Drive
Cedarville, WI 12344

Sylvanus T. Berry
General Farming Products
101 Corporate Avenue
Oshkosh, WI 12345

Dear Mr. Berry,

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position of regional sales manager. During the interview I learned a lot about the GFP way of doing business and became even more enthusiastic about this opportunity to lead a portion of the GFP sales force.

I understand you will be interviewing other candidates during the next week or so; however, I look forward to hearing from you early next month, as we discussed. In the meantime, if you require additional information regarding my experience and capabilities, just let me know.

Best regards,

John James

Tel: 845-456-7890

Responding to Offers

Employers normally make offers of employment in writing, asking you to respond in a week or so. If you need more time to decide, ask for an extension and explain why. Both sides will have the same goal: to ensure the fit is right and the compensation is satisfactory.

Senior executives are sometimes offered contracts. Contracts often specify the number of years offered, option years, incentive clauses, severance pay, etc. Most offers of employment are termed "at will," meaning that the employee or the employer may end the employment agreement without having to show cause.

As you consider an offer, consider the entire compensation package and terms of employment. Know the scope of your responsibilities and the measures of success - salary, bonus, stock options, medical and dental benefits, life insurance, short and long-term disability, parking and commuting, computer, educational benefits, daycare, membership in clubs or professional associations, and employer contributions to 401k or 403b plans.

Some Tips on Negotiating

Should you attempt to engage in a negotiation? If and how you negotiate will depend on the relative positioning/power of the two sides. Are you the only candidate? Are you a superior candidate? Does the employer have any flexibility? Could you easily walk away from the opportunity? Negotiating tactics normally reflect a balance of power, as well as desire to close the deal. When negotiating over employment both sides have the same desired outcome, so neither side should push too hard. An ethical employer will pay employees fairly: A smart employee will know what fair compensation is and want to be paid well but not overpaid. In any case, we suggest you take the long view: in considering an offer, consider the compensation you are likely to receive over the initial five years of your employment.

You might ask someone with the organization or a similar organization to help you evaluate an offer. If you are being offered a contract for the first time, ask a trusted mentor to help you review it (as well as your personal counsel). If the organization offered you a contract, you can be pretty sure they had their corporate counsel review the terms.

If you decide to ask for more (for example, base salary, bonus, reimbursement of relocation expenses, or something else), justify your request. Lay out the expectations that will be placed upon you and justify your request for additional compensation. The best way to do this negotiation is in person with the hiring manager.

A couple of cautions: it is not a good idea to play one offer off against another. Also, be wary of an exploding offer--an offer with an unexplained time limit. There are, of course, instances where an employer has to get someone on the job, but a few days will seldom be critical.