Resumes & Cover Letters
Your resume is a marketing tool, and often your first introduction to a potential employer, so you want to make the best impression possible. Resumes should be tailored to the job you are seeking, and should be a brief overview of your qualifications and experience to highlight particular accomplishments for a prospective employer.
Common elements include: Contact info, Education, Experience, Honors, Activities, & Affiliations, Academic Projects, and Skills. Don't forget to use power verbs throughout!
Writing your Resume
The sections below offer tips for specific sections of your resume. To get you started, we've created a few documents that you can download and edit - remember, you may have different section headings, more or less sections, etc. Don't forget to use power verbs throughout!
There are common formats for writing a resume: the Chronological Resume, Combination Resume, and the Functional Resume. Remember, even with a common format, layout, and/or structure, your resume will still be unique!
Which Resume Format Should I Use?
Use a Chronological resume format if:
Use a Combination resume format if:
Use a Functional resume format if:
Other Recommended Formatting, Structure, and Layout Tips:
- One-page to two-page resume is most common (two pages for years of relevant experience)
- Use consistent formatting throughout the resume: bolding, italics, font size, font style, date format (mm/yyyy or month year), etc.
- One column format
- Font size: 10-12 point (note: your name will be larger) and using a common font style (Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond)
- Use 0.5-1.0-inch margins
- Avoid using tables, grids, lines, and graphics
- Use templates only if it fits your needs
- Be concise with wording and make sure to proofread– don’t just rely on spell check! (Microsoft Word does not catch ALL CAPITAL misspelled words)
Here are two different examples that you can download and edit to personalize to fit you.
Headings include how the employer can contact you.
- Name - largest text on the resume (it is all about YOU!)
- If you go by your middle name/preferred name, consider using an initial (E. Thomas Jones for Eugene Thomas Jones)
- Professional EMAIL - recommend use your UMICH.EDU email
- Phone Number - make sure your voicemail is set up professionally and not full
- Other Options to Include:
- LinkedIn Customized URL (be sure to keep profile your up to date; more about using LinkedIn on our Networking page)
- Full Address or City and State
- Other Websites or Professional Portfolios (specific to your field)
Your academic credentials are important to an employer, particularly if you are relatively new to the working world or if you are pursuing a job that requires specific training.
- Express your educational background clearly
- Avoid abbreviations (except for states). Only abbreviate your degree if it is necessary to fit the space
- List your institutions in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Be sure to include:
- The school name, city, and state
- Type of degree (Ex: Bachelor of Science)
- Major(s), any minor(s)/concentration(s)
- Month and year granted or Expected Graduation month and year
- Optional: Overall GPA or Major GPA if 2.8 and above
- Optional: Relevant Coursework (Other common titles: Relevant Courses, Computer Courses, etc.) is commonly found within the Education section. Usually any courses level 200 or higher that are specific to the position/career field or departmental concentrations are included.
- Optional: Certifications, teaching endorsements, or honors
The University of Michigan-Dearborn
Relevant Coursework: Professional Communication Ethics, Communication Research Methods
Henry Ford Community College
An objective is a brief sentence that clarifies any skills, abilities, or experience that align with the position you are applying for. Use your objective to answer the question "what can I do for the employer?" Consider having an objective statement when you do not have a cover letter or you are attending a recruiting event/career fair.
A powerful objective can be broken down into three parts:
- The title or function desired
- The skills that the job seeker brings to the position
- The results that the employer can expect
Experiences can be highlighted in one section or broken up in a variety of ways. These sections indicate your value to the employer by highlighting accomplishments and skills you have developed through previous experiences.
- Common section headings include: Experience, Work History, Work Experience, Relevant Experience, Professional Experience, Experience in [specific field]
- Other experiences to include (that may be their own section): Volunteer Experience, Practica, Field Experience, Internships, Military Experiences (check out the Other Resources section at the bottom of this page or meet with a career coach for tips on translating your military skills to civilian terms)
- Within any "Experience" section you create, include the following:
- List experiences in reverse chronological order
- Include each job title and employer name (no supervisors or addresses needed)
- List city, state (or country), and accurate dates for each position
- Use bullet points with descriptive statements displaying skills, abilities, and professional accomplishments (begin with a power verb)
- If present work, use present tense, if past use past tense (stay away from active tense)
- Try to include quantifiable results (number of people on a team, cost reductions, etc.)
Adding additional sections is strongly recommended if you have experience that has not been reflected through the rest of your resume. Some of these items might work well in previously mentioned sections and there may be other sections you include based on your personal experiences.
- Academic Projects (other common section headings) Class Projects, Projects, or Projects in [Specific Field])
- Include any presentation, group projects, papers, etc. that highlight your skills related to a specific field (helpful for those with limited to no formal work experiences in their field)
- List in most relevant order (dates are not important here)
- Structure these similar to the "Experience" section or with a Project Title and a few descriptive statements
- Activities and Affiliations (other common section headings: Leadership, Campus Involvement, Co-Curricular Activities, etc.)
- Include organizations, clubs, professional memberships, associations, leadership roles, etc.
- Organization's name and/or positions held (could be a similar design to an "experience" section)
- Highlight a descriptive statement of accomplishments (using power verbs) rather than stating "member"
- Employers are more concerned with what rather than when here (dates are not as important)
- Provide explanations for the names of organizations, if they are not self-evident
- Honors and Awards (if all are academic related, they could be placed in the "Education" section)
- Include awards, recognitions, scholarships, etc.
- Consider honors and awards from employment, volunteer experiences, co-curricular activities, and academics
- Skills (other common section headings: Special Skills, Technical Skills, Computer Skills, Skills in [Specific Field], etc.)
- Include any specialized knowledge - relevant/industry-related skills (equipment or programming specific to the field/job)
- Foreign Languages
- Computer Programs/Software
- Certifications (these could be listed within another section or in their own section)
- Certifications or Endorsements
- For specific software or industries (such as SAS, or CPA)
- State of Michigan (Elementary or Secondary) Provisional teaching
- Teaching endorsements (find your Michigan endorsement code): Math (EX), Early Childhood (ZA)
Applications by Email and Digital Copies
Applications by Email:
- Always include a brief note in the body of the email stating what you’re applying for, what materials you have attached, and how to contact you.
- This can also be a good opportunity to reiterate your excitement for the position.
Application File Names and Saving Documents:
- Employers receive dozens of cover letters and resumes a day. Saving your documents with clear and appropriate file names will ensure your materials don’t get lost.
- Example: JonathanWolverineResume.pdf or JonathanWolverineCoverLetter.docx
- When sending by e-mail or posting on your LinkedIn, saving as a PDF prevents your formatting from getting jumbled; some online application systems cannot process PDFs, so always follow specific system instructions.
Additional tips provided by Career Services, Talent Gateway, ICMC, CASL Internships, and CECS Co-op Staff
- This is not easy, this can be overwhelming, and you are not alone in this process!
- Use a template only if it fits your needs (Ex: BA 300)
- There's no such thing as a “perfect” or “finished” resume
- Consider all experiences: classes, projects, student orgs, volunteer, leadership, awards, publications, presentations, certifications, special skills, etc.
- All resumes are different (even if formatting looks similar)
- POWER VERBS - use them! (see Resume Power Verbs and Transferable Skills)
Resume Tips for Specific Fields
While similar to the resumes described above, if you're seeking a job in education there are a few additional tips to consider.
Elements to Consider when Describing Teaching Experience
When describing your teaching experience, include any teaching experience such as substitute teaching, student teaching and practical/observations as well as your classroom experience. Specify if you have special skills such as
- Multi-level subjects taught – ex: reading groups, math groups
- Integrated curriculum/cross-disciplinary teaching/team teaching
- Special methodologies – ex.: Math Their Way, Hunter Units
- Special testing, ex: the Iowa Basic
- Teaching endorsements
Also include related experiences such as:
|Tutoring||Internships and assistantship|
|Coaching or other extracurricular activities (plays, fairs, etc.)||Social service work involving youth|
|Aide experience||Supervising field trips|
|Extra duties (e.g.,) playground, lunch room, study hall, bus duty|
... or other experiences demonstrating transferable skills or work history.
Include elements that make your teaching experience unique, such as the populations you've worked with:
|Students with physical disabilities||Inclusion students|
|Students with visual impairments||Exchange students|
|Students with hearing impairments||Gifted students|
|ESL/Bilingual||Students with learning disabilities|
For students in the College of Business, the Internship and Career Management Center (ICMC) is here to support you. They help students explore careers, assist with resume and internship prep, host networking events and much more!
They also provide templates for cover letters and resumes that you can customize to make your own.
Resume Samples & Templates
Here are a few samples so you can see the different types of resumes. The two listed as "templates" are Word documents that you can edit and make your own.
Cover Letter Tips and Suggestions
A cover letter is an introduction to your resume and your qualifications. An employer uses cover letters to determine your interests in the position and to assess your written communication skills. It is important to remember that a cover letter is not just a copy of your resume; it should intrigue the employer enough to read your attached resume.
A cover letter should answer the following questions:
- What is the position?
- Why are you applying for it?
- What do you hope to gain from the position?
- Why are you qualified?
- What unique skills or experiences do you have?
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