Writing a Resume

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.

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, you can always submit your resume for review and then meet with someone to discuss it - we are here for you!

Resume Formats, Common Structure, and Layout

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:

  • Previous employer/job titles and experiences are relevant to the job you are applying to
  • Staying in same/similar field as prior jobs
  • Employment history can show career growth and development
  • Work experience has minimal time gaps
  • Can be helpful if worked for relatively few organizations
  • Relevant experiences and work history listed separately
  • Gaps in employment
  • In order to emphasize skills/abilities prior to formal work experiences
  • Held a variety of unrelated jobs
  • Combines Chronological and Functional 
  • Emphasize transferable skills - summarizes skills from all experiences/work history
  • Changing career field or changing jobs frequently
  • Has a lot of experience in one field
  • Held a variety of unrelated jobs
  • Re-entering the job market after an absence
  • Most experiences have been freelance, volunteer, or temporary

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)
Heading (Contact Information)

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 https://umdearborn.edu/students/office-career-services/career-job-search/career-search-advice/networkingNetworking page)
    • Full Address or City and State
    • Other Websites or Professional Portfolios (specific to your field)
Education

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 (find your Michigan endorsement code), or honors

The University of Michigan-Dearborn
Bachelor of Arts
Major: Communications Minor: Management GPA: 3.8

Relevant Coursework: Professional Communication Ethics, Communication Research Methods

Dearborn, MI
Expected Graduation: April 2022

Henry Ford Community College
Associate in Business
Major: Accounting GPA: 3.87

Dearborn, MI
April 2020

Objective

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:

  1. The title or function desired
  2. The skills that the job seeker brings to the position
  3. The results that the employer can expect

Objective Examples

Experience

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.) 
Additional Sections

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)
Other Tips

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.

Other Tips:

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)
  • No such thing as a “perfect” or “finished” resume
  • Current document; not a bibliography
  • 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 POWER VERBS POWER VERBS POWER VERBS POWER VERBS 
  • What is your “brand”? What are your “strengths”?
  • View Virtual Resume Workshop video by Career Services Program Manager, Jen Macleod

Resume Tips for Specific Fields

Education Degrees

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 (find your Michigan endorsement code)

Also include related experiences such as:

Tutoring Internships and assistantship
Camp counseling Volunteering
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
Mainstreamed students ADD/ADHD
Business Degrees

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.

Cover Letter Tips and Suggestions

Writing a Cover Letter

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?

Cover Letter Sample

Career Services

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