What is a Résumé?

For current students and recent graduates, the traditional U.S. résumé is typically a one-page document that highlights your educational background, experiences, accomplishments, skills, and interests. This length could vary depending on the industry and depth of your experiences, so knowing expectations within your field is critical for résumé success. A master résumé allows you to keep track of everything you have done so that you can pick and choose which experiences to use and tailor.

An industry résumé allows you to have a version tailored for a specific industry that you will only need to make small adjustments to when adapting for a specific position résumé. Your résumé is the most important document in marketing yourself professionally and will evolve over time. Some international employers will ask for a CV, which is actually a traditional résumé and different from an academic CV. Visit the Writing Center for resources on writing academic CVs.

The Marian E. Wright Writing Center provides assistance to students who are looking for help in developing a résumé. To make an appointment with the Writing Center, please visit www.umflint.edu/writingcenter/writing-center-home.

Why Create A Résumé Early?

You may think that you don’t need a résumé until you start applying for internships or full-time jobs, but the Career Center recommends you get started as early as possible. Listed below are three primary reasons why beginning your résumé early will be advantageous.

Promotes skill building

When you write a résumé early in your college career, you can use it as a guide to see what skills, experiences, and activities you need to develop while in school to help as you apply for internships, full-time jobs, or graduate school.

Helps you be prepared

By preparing a master or industry version of your résumé early, you will be better prepared for any opportunity that arises. You may need a résumé when applying for career-related summer jobs and/ or internships, admission into an academic program, scholarships, or on-campus job opportunities.

Helps keep track of what you do

If you start your résumé early, you will be able to keep track of everything you do throughout your college career. Many students who create their first résumé as seniors have forgotten the details of what they did their first and second years. Your master résumé can be used as a document that helps you remember information as you modify future résumés and prepare for interviews.

Writing Résumé Bullet Points

Bullet points describe what was accomplished or learned in a certain experience. They allow the employer to understand how each experience relates to the one for which you are applying and answer the questions “What?” “How?” and “Why?”

HOW did you do it? (Skills USED/action VERBS)

Review the list of tasks and locate patterns in the types of responsibilities you had. These tasks demonstrate the skills gained from the experience. Look at the job description for the position you are applying for, highlight the skills most desired for that position, and incorporate them into your bullet points.

Each bullet point should start with a strong action verb. If the experience is still occurring, the verb is in present tense. If it has ended, past tense is used.

Why did you do it? (Results)

This element adds context to the tasks so the person reading the résumé better understands your previous experiences. Consider the importance and end result of your tasks. Quantify results whenever possible.

What did you do? (Situation/TASK)

To start, brainstorm a list of every task you have completed in that experience. Think about the various aspects of the position you held.

Possible Résumé Categories


Includes name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, e-mail address, and LinkedIn profile URL.


Professional Objective • Career Objective

Recommended for all jobs and internships, but typically not included for graduate school or scholarship applications where personal statements are being submitted.

This is generally a brief sentence that clarifies any of your skills, abilities, or experience that would positively contribute to the opportunity for which you are applying. This sets the order of importance for the remaining categories on your résumé.


Educational Background • Academic Background • Academic History

Area where educational institutions, city, state, degree, and anticipated graduation date are listed. GPA may be listed. Educational institutions are listed in reverse chronological order, with highest degree-conferring institution at the top.

May also include: Minor, Concentration, Relevant Courses, Study Abroad, Honors, Dean’s List, GPA, Certifications


Work History • Employment • Additional Work Experience

Document work history that highlights skills to employers. These jobs don’t need to be relevant to the Objective statement. These are typically paid job experiences. This shows employers that you have held jobs and have some understanding of work responsibilities. You don’t need to include every job you’ve held.


Campus Involvement • Leadership – if you have held leadership roles and/or had leadership responsibilities

Strongly recommended if you have been involved in certain activities for several months/years

Any campus and community involvement.


Community Service • Service • Community Engagement

Strongly recommended if you have been involved in community service.

Activities you were involved in that help individuals and/or the community. This work is generally unpaid, but may also be part of a workstudy program.


Relevant Coursework • Professional Courses • Coursework

Strongly recommended if looking for an internship.

Dependent upon length of résumé and field of interest if applying for a full-time job.

Any coursework that is level 200 or higher that is specific to the profession or industry in which you are seeking employment. It is usually recommended to list between four and eight courses.


Relevant Skills • Qualifications • Skills and Certifications • Computer Skills

Strongly recommended that all students include computer skills.

Any specialized knowledge.

If you have other industry related skills, you should include those too (e.g., a biology major with lab skills).


Related Experience • Professional Experience • Practicum • Clinical Experience • Internship Experience • Research Experience

Strongly recommended if you have experience related to your Objective statement.

Can be volunteer work, internships, summer and/or part-time jobs that are directly related to a desired position.

May also include:

- Relevant research

- Senior design projects


Optional, often used as a space filler.

Things you like to do that aren’t structured activities.


Research Experience • Awards • Professional Affiliations • Presentations • Publications • Honors

Strongly recommended if you have experience and/or affiliations with any category listed above (or any others that apply).

These categories may be added if relevant to you. Some people add these items to categories previously listed. Determining if a separate category is necessary depends on how significant and/or unique the experience is for you and how relevant it is to the Objective.


Not typically listed on résumé. Have a separate page that lists your references.

List people who will serve as a positive reference for you.

Cover Letters

• Tailored to job announcement for a particular position
• Introduces the résumé and serves as a marketing tool
• Convinces the employer to invite you for an interview
• Proves that you can do the job
• Shows enthusiasm for the job and the organization

• Formal business letter (regular mail or as an attachment in an email)


• Research the position and the company prior to beginning the cover letter

• Write “Hello my name is...”
• Write more than 1 page
• Just repeat your résumé
• Indent your paragraphs
• Write “To Whom It May Concern”
• Write general statements regarding your desire to work for the organization, or how you are impressed with it

When possible, direct your cover letter to a specific person. If you can’t find a contact name, use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Search Committee.”

Your Address City, State Zip (Or use the letterhead from your résumé)
Date (January 1, XXXX)
Name of Employer Contact (or HR Director) Title Organization Street Address City, State Zip
Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. _____________: (use last name)
Introduction Paragraph:
• Why are you writing? Specifically mention the position and company you are applying to.
• Make a connection with the reader by mentioning a common professional acquaintance or by expressing your interest in the organization.
• Conclude the paragraph with a statement similar to a thesis statement, indicating the skills you are going to address in the next two paragraphs.


Body Paragraphs:
• Show that you can do the job by providing specific examples of past work, internship, volunteer, leadership, or classroom experiences to illustrate that you have the skills from the position description.
• Explain why you are a PERFECT FIT for this position and this organization.
• Explain how you can add value to the company, and why you want to work there specifically.


Closing Paragraph:
• Thank the employer for looking over your application materials, and reiterate your interest in the position and/or organization.
• Express your willingness to follow up with more information if needed, and provide your phone number and e-mail address for contact.


“Sincerely,” or “Respectfully,”

Name (typed)

General Tips and Strategies

résumé Design
• Be consistent with format. List the month, year, organization/ company, location, and position title.
• Use bold and italics consistently yet sparingly.
• Use the same font throughout the document—font size should be 10 to 12 pt; your name can be larger.
• Choose a common font (e.g., Times New Roman or Garamond) that will easily translate from older to newer versions of software.
• Establish equal margins all the way around the page (0.5-inch minimum, 1.0-inch maximum on all sides).
• Avoid using tables, grids, and templates as they do not transfer well when emailed.
• Keep the length of a traditional undergraduate résumé to one page; certain industries, job fields, majors, and graduate programs may require longer ones.
• Create a résumé that is unique to your personality—avoid templates in software programs.
Professional writing tips to remember
• Professional writing should be concise, on-point, and focused.
• Always proofread and make sure your content is grammatically correct.
• Follow traditional business letter formatting.
• All professional communication must be tailored; generic letters go in the trash.
• Address your letter to a specific person; if you can’t find a name, use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Search Committee.”
• Cover letters and letters of inquiry, like résumés, are formal documents that need to be printed on high-quality paper when mailed or distributed in person.