McMaster University will continue to host undergraduate academic activities remotely for the Spring/Summer/Intersession term with only a few exceptions for courses that need student access to specialized equipment.

Job Search

Whether you are looking for summer employment, an internship opportunity or an entry level position, know that looking for work takes time and effort. Use these tools to help you get started, or visit a career advisor for some help.


Your resume is a specific reflection of your relevant skills and experiences. It needs to illustrate the hard and soft skills you possess and are required for the position for which you are applying. Above all, it’s a marketing tool to persuade an employer to offer you an interview. The purpose of a resume is NOT to get you a job, but to secure you an interview!

Putting your resume together:

  • Permanent contact information, including: name, address (optional), email, phone number, LinkedIn URL (Optional)
  • Use bold and a large font to make your name is the most prominent word on the page
  • Use your McMaster or other professional generic email address

Profile (Optional):
  • The purpose of your profile is to let employers know who you are and to summarize the key competencies/qualifications you possess
  • Profiles are optional. If you use one make sure it is specific and relevant to the position by highlighting the most appropriate skills and experience

A profile should NOT be an objective statement outlining the type of job you want. This is outdated. Instead it should show what you can bring to the company. Education:

  • List your educational background in reverse chronological order
  • Minor (if applicable)
  • Scholarships
  • Technical or lab skills include ______
  • Course of instruction include ______
  • Major projects ( presentations, project, thesis)

  • This section highlights skills learned through employment or volunteer experience; skills learned only at McMaster in an academic activity should be listed under Education
  • Include computer skills, language skills and any other type of skills that are pertinent to the position
  • Group similar skills into sections such as Laboratory Techniques or Statistical Software
  • If you have a second language or exemplary computer skills, specify your ability to speak, read and/or write, and your level of proficiency

Work Experience:
  • List experiences in reverse chronological order and include relevant accomplishments and transferable skills
  • Aim to include 3 – 5 effective bullets under each experience
  • Quantify, describe and specify. Use facts, figures and statistics where possible to clearly illustrate your contribution and skill development.

Volunteer Experience (Optional):
  • List your volunteer background in reverse chronological order
  • Include relevant volunteer experience as a board member or holding a leadership role in professional associations, clubs etc.

Curriculum Vitae Guidelines

A curriculum vitae is a summary of your skills, experience and education used for job search in academia, medicine and research, as well as applications to graduate school and professional schools.

Differences between a CV and a Resume

 Curriculum VitaeResume
Purpose: Applying to graduate or professional school or for a job in academic/research/medical fields Applying for a job in most non-academic sectors
Goal: To provide a detailed account of your academic credentials and accomplishments To provide a summary of your skills and experiences relevant to the position
Audience: Academics in your field of study Employers who hire for a wide variety of positions
Length: 2 to 4 pages for a young professional; 4 to 7 pages for a person with more experience 2 pages maximum
References: Include Do not include

Cover Letter

Why are cover letters important? A cover letter is used to make a first impression on an employer, and to demonstrate how committed to the position a candidate is. It also helps to provide a sample of a candidate’s written communication skills and convince the employer that the candidate can do the job.


  • Read the job description carefully. Tailor your document to what the employer is seeking.
  • Identify 2-3 skills listed in the job description that align with your strengths. Provide concrete examples of how you have demonstrated each skill in past experiences.
  • A good cover letter compliments your resume. It does not simply repeat the information found on your resume.
  • A cover letter is a business letter and should be written in a formal tone. However, you want to ensure that you engage the audience, therefore do not shy away from injecting personality or including a short personal story if it will help connect you with the employer and is relevant to the proposed position.
  • When possible, address the letter to a specific person rather than using a generic greeting. Use the correct title, i.e. Mr. Ms. Dr. If you use a generic greeting, Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Recruitment Team, is appropriate.
  • Do not highlight qualifications or skills you are lacking.
  • Use the same header on both your resume and cover letter.
  • Do not repeat your contact information in the concluding paragraph of your cover letter if it is included in your header.
  • Your cover letter should be one page, properly formatted.
  • Check spelling, punctuation and grammar, mistakes will NOT be accepted.
  • Create your own email signature.

Personal Statement vs. Statement of Intent

 Personal StatementStatement of Intent

An account of your personal experiences that have shaped who you are and enabled you to develop the skills required for the program of interest. The statement should also convey what specifically motivated you to pursue this area of study as demonstrated through the following experiences:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Volunteer roles
  • International excursions (not personal vacations) personal life

Communicates your research interests and career goals. Within the statement you are required to communicate:

  • Why the subject area is of interest to you?
  • What you intend to research within the program? Name the professor(s) you would like to work with (if requested to do so).
  • The academic and/or research experiences that have contributed to your skill set? The skills you possess that will enable you to be successful in the program
Sample Prompts:
  • Discuss your motivation to pursue a career as a _______
  • Describe key experiences that have influenced your decision to pursue a career as a ______
  • Discuss your career goals and the attributes that you will bring to the XYZ program
  • Outline your research interests and career goals upon completion of graduate studies
  • Outline the key experiences that have prepared you for graduate level studies
  • Of the 3 areas of study available, provide a rationale for your selection, your key qualifications and the professors with whom you would like to study
Skills to Highlight:
  • Communication skills (verbal, written, additional languages)
  • Interpersonal and teamwork skills
  • Leadership and self-management skills
  • Organization and time management skills
  • Problem solving skills and the ability to learn new things
  • Research skills/scientific literacy

Email Scripts

Having a professional and polished email script is essential if you want to contact people to network or inquire about job opportunities.  Establishing initial contact through email can be challenging. You want to convey respect and interest and saying the right words can sometimes be hard.

  • Keep the email short and straight to the point. The three main things you want to get across are:
    • Who you are and the purpose of the correspondence
    • Your interest in the person’s research or occupation and your relevant skills
    • Suggest a length of time that you could meet or call to speak with them. This shows that you are extremely interested in the field and are anticipating some sort of response back
  • Make sure you display a working knowledge of the person’s research or position
  • Thank them for their time at the end of the email. Also include an email signature which consists of your name, level program and university
  • Maintain a balancing act between being too formal and informal. You don’t want to sound like you are quoting from the dictionary
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