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   Northwestern Michigan College
   Career & Employment Services

                             RESUME WRITING


The best resume is the resume that gets you an interview. The process of writing a resume is not an
easy task. It takes time and much effort to refine it into an effective tool that can be used to get you
an employment interview. It should not be written in a single day. A quote from Yana Parker’s
Resume Catalog says it very well. “"A resume needs to 'shake down' a bit; after it's completed, it
should be considered only a 'draft' for at least a day or two, until the owner has 'slept on it' and
some knowledgeable others have looked it over and given feedback."

Although there are many examples of how resumes may be laid out, the enclosed example is used to
illustrate the different parts of a resume. When writing your resume you should feel free to arrange,
change, add, or eliminate different sections to best present your qualifications.

I am often asked what is the best source or reference for resume writing. That is very difficult to
answer because there are many good books and other resources available. I use the “Wizard of
Work, 88 Pages To Your Next Job” by Richard Gaither. Having said that I would have to say that
there are many other excellent guides. The principles the Richard Gaither incorporates into his
resumes and job search methods are why I like this book. He offers examples, but like all examples,
they do not apply to all situations.

Also Word Processors such as Microsoft Word, Works and Word Perfect offer templates for writing
your resume. The only draw back with templates is that they are not flexible and can be difficult to
adapt to your resume. The one concept that many writers miss when writing their resume is that they
are writing it for someone else. Always keep the writers needs in mind.


How many pages should my resume be?
There are excellent one page, two page, and three page resumes or even longer. The answer to this
question is that it should include everything the reader needs to know about you, nothing more and
nothing less. Usually this can be done in one or two pages.

What comes first in the resume?
We place information in the order of most importance. The most important information is your
contact information and it goes at the top of the resume. It includes your name, address and
telephone number. It tells the reader how to contact you. The remaining sections include education
and work history. Sections such as skills, licenses and certifications, community experience and
others may also be useful in your resume. Remember, everything you include in your resume must
show your ability or qualification to do the job. An example of what comes first after your contact
information may be your education when it is the primary factor or source of qualification for a job.
For many people it is their related work experience because it demonstrates your ability to do the job.

What type of resume should I write? The chronological resume is the preferred resume for the
vast majority of us. This type of resume is very specific in that it shows what you have done and
(ideally) what you can do as a result of your education and experience. It organizes your experience
into a “chronological order” with your most current employment first.

On the following page is an example of a resume. Each section is named and an explanation and
example of what can be included in that section follows on subsequent pages.

                                 JANE P. SMITH
1111 Hometown Lane                                                     Home Phone: 231-555-5555
Traverse City, MI. 49684                                                Cell Phone: 231-555-5551


   •   Experienced in retail sales and banking with an emphasis on customer service.
   •   Skilled and experienced using American Sign Language.
   •   Proven ability to meet demanding goals and time constraint.
   •   Proficient using M.S. Word, Excel, Access, and Visual Basic 6.0.
                                                     Therre are many types of education

Visual Basic Programming
Self Study, Learn to Program with Visual Basic 6.0, John Smiley Completed June 2002
Bachelor of Science Degree – Business Administration GPA- 3.6/4.0
Podunk University, College of Business, Podunk, IA              Graduated May, 1998
Certificate, Sign Language/Interpreter Training Courses
Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI                Completed Sept. 1996

                                             Start with your most recent and work
EMPLOYMENT                                   back about ten years and maybe longer

MY FAVORITE BANK                                                            TRAVERSE CITY, MI
Account Relationship Associate/ Trust Department                            May 2000-Present

   •   Assist sales officer by processing and maintaining documentation
   •   Resolve discrepancies, prepare materials for presentations on retirement plans
   •   Provided administrative support for account officers
   •   Responsible for processing 401(k) contributions, requesting and settling trades
   •   Balance accounts
   •   Build an effective rapport with clients and Huntington personnel

ABC NATIONAL BANK                    This job has multiple            TRAVERSE CITY, MI
Senior Loan Adjuster                 positions                          Feb. 1999 – May
   • Review delinquent accounts and determine billing and collection action to be taken
   • Discuss delinquency problems with customers and make financial arrangements
   • Prepare and follow-up small claim actions taken on delinquent accounts
   • Coordinate collateral protection insurance tracking program and procedures

Mortgage Loan Specialist                                                    Oct. 1998 – Feb. 1999
  • Maintenance mortgage loan applications for compliance
  • Prepare management reports and verify new loan bookings

   •   Prepare payments to land contracts sellers and enter new land contracts

Loan Operations Reserve                                                      Aug. 1996 – Oct.
   • Assessment and computer entry of all new loan documentation
   • Fill in during peak workloads for all loan services areas
   • Train and monitor new team members performance

Retail Cash Coordinator                                                    Nov. 1994 – Aug. 1996
   • Responsible for the entire cash flow of ABC Bank
   • Prepare cash shipments to all major merchants
   • Prepare and inventory all Federal Reserve shipments
   • Control and monitor inventory of all negotiable items

Reserve Customer Service Partner                                   Oct. 1991 – Nov. 1994
   • Process customer transactions and cross-sell numerous bank products
   • Open and monitor new customer accounts
   • Travel between branches to provide coverage during peak times

SUNDAY METHODIST CHURCH                                                  TRAVERSE CITY, MI

Sign Language Interpreter for church services                            1997-Present
Part-time volunteer work providing interpretation services for clients during church services. This
experience has given me an opportunity to apply my skills as an interpreter and gain experience
working with the hearing impaired.

                                               This is a volunteer position but it is
                                               still work experience


Contact Information

Contact information is printed at the top of your resume and will be used to identify you and tell the
reader how to best contact you. This information should include your name, address, and telephone
number. Only include your present work number, if you can be contacted at that number. Generally,
work telephone numbers are used. You may also include e-mail addresses, cell phones, etc. Do not
use telephone numbers where you can’t be reached or do not have a person, answering machine, or
service to receive the calls during normal working hours. Here is an example:

                                        John A. Smith
                             5555 Anywhere Street, Podunk, ID 47843
                                  Telephone (H): 361-555-5555

Highlight Your Qualifications.

The process of selecting persons to be interviewed is often not considered by the job seeker. Just like
reading the newspaper, the employer scans the resumes, spending eight - fifteen seconds on each one.
Being selected for an interview may depend on the employer immediately seeing that you have the
required skills and abilities. One method to insure an employer sees your qualifications is to create a
"highlights" or a "summary of qualifications" section in your resume. This section is placed near or at
the top of your resume. Use bullets or phrases to state the things you want the employer to know
about you. These can be important generalizations or the specific skills and abilities the employer is
seeking. Highlights are designed to catch the employer’s attention and make him or her quickly
aware of your qualifications. Highlights could be titled "Summary of Skills" or "Key Words " when
writing a resume that may be electronically scanned.

                              HIGHLIGHTS of QUALIFICATIONS

                        §   Nine years experience in teaching and counseling
                        §   Sincere commitment to the welfare of the student
                        §   Special talent for assessing individual needs
                        §   Work supportively with colleagues and administration

This section can also be incorporated into the cover letter (not in both documents) to show
specific skills and experience you have that will qualify you for the position.

Skills and Abilities

Skills and Abilities are closely associated with your “Highlights” but may be presented in a different
section in your cover letter under a title such as “Skills and Abilities.” They are those qualifications
that you present to an employer that the prospective employer is specifically looking and those that
would enhance your ability to contribute to the employers business. Many employment
advertisements state specific skills and abilities. If you have these specific skills and abilities, they

should be included in a prominent location on your resume or cover letter. You should consider all
those skills you have used in previous employment such as keyboarding speed, computer software,
machinery operated, etc. Skills you have not used professionally (model building skills, sewing skills,
etc.) should also be considered when evaluating your skills and abilities. If they relate directly to the
position you are seeking, use them. Here is an example:


            §   TurboCAD Ver 8.0                                    §   AR/AP/GL
            §   M.S. Word, Excel, Access                            §   Cost Accounting
                MOUS Certified                                      §   Just–In–Time Scheduling
            §   CAD-CAM programming                                 §   Visual Basic
            §   ESO 9002 Certified                                  §   C++

Employment History

This section includes your most recent work experience and moves backwards to your first job.
For each work experience include the job title, company name, location and dates of employment.
 List employment for the past ten years plus any other employment that is directly related to the
position you are seeking. Use descriptive statements to illustrate what you did including special
skills and training you acquired. It is also recommended that you state what you can do as a
result of this experience. Connect your experience to the prospective position. An Example is:

    Chief Widget Maker                                                       June 1989 – Present
    ABC Widget Company                                                       Traverse City, MI
    Supervised 33 Journeyman and Apprentice Widget Makers responsible for the production of
    Category 1 Widgets. Finished all contracted prior to contracted deadline. Reduced employee
    absenteeism to less than 1 percent. Recognized by corporate headquarters for the reduction of
    scrap from fifteen to less than 3 percent in one year. Prepared and administered comprehensive
    on-the-job training program for apprentices and journeyman qualifying six new journeymen.
    Created and coordinated a comprehensive professional development program with local
    community college resulting is 60 percent of employees completing all educational requirements
    in less than 2 years and awarded Associate of Science Degrees in Business, Manufacturing, or
    other related areas. This experience and given me the experience to be a production supervisor
    or related management position with a small or large manufacturing organization.


Educational achievements should include related formal schooling, professional training, on-the-job
training, and self-study. When listing formal education include: (1) the name of school; (2) location
of school; (3) courses, certificates, diplomas or degrees earned; (4) what you learned; (5) credits
completed and/or your GPA if over 3.0 and (6) dates attended or your graduation year. Professional
development/on-the-job training should include: (1) the name of the organization and/or person
providing the training; (2) the name of the company who sponsored the training, (3) any certification

received, (4) the dates attended, and (5) what you learned if the title does not specifically state it.
Self-study should include: (1) name of subject, (2) who wrote the study material, (3) time period
studied and, (4) what you learned. Examples of formal education, self study and professional
development/OJT are shown below.

Associate of Applied Science Degree, Drafting and Design Technology            Graduated May 2003
Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI GPA: 3.4/4.0

Visual Basic 6.0, Self Study
From text “Learn To Program with Visual Basic–6, John Smiley         Completed June 2002
Learned how to write Visual Basic routines when working with ACCESS and other application

Proper Operation of XYZ Widget Press, On-The-Job Training                               Nov. 1999
Production Supervisor, ABC Widget Company, Traverse City, MI

Memberships, Organizations, Awards, Honors

Your membership in various organizations, honors, and awards may be used if they pertain
directly to the employment you are seeking. An example entry would be:

Member, National Widget Maker Association                   June 1987 to Pres..
President, Hometown Elementary PTA, Traverse City, MI       Sept 2000 – Sept 2001
Employee of the Year, ABC Widget Company, Traverse City, MI June 1999

Hobbies and Interests.

These are not usually included unless they are directly associated with the position.

                                                                                 1111 Hometown Lane
                                                                                   Podunk, CA. 78231
                                                                         Telephone: (714) 555-0987

March 27, 19XX

Mr. Marvin Paterson
Section Manager
Hewlett-Packard Co.
16399 W. Bernardo Dr.
San Diego, CA 92717
                                                 The opening
Dear Mr. Paterson:

I am writing to apply for the Control Systems Engineer position at your San Diego facility posted on
“” I have enclosed my resume and included some background information about
myself below you may find helpful.

At XYZ Company, we use many of your products. As a laboratory engineer at XYZ Company, I
have become very familiar with your products design, precision, and reliability. Your upcoming
project of applying microcomputers in automatic control systems interests me a great deal and, as my
resume states, fits well with my background.     These two paragraphs make up the main body.

An interview will show that I am an energetic performer who can handle multiple tasks
simultaneously. Supervisors often comment on my innovative approach to projects and the ability to
work well as a member of a team or independently as required. Coworkers elected me as “Engineer
of the Year” based on my accomplishments while maintaining a friendly and cooperative personality.

Please take the time to review my qualifications, and I will contact you within two weeks to talk
about the possibility of arranging an interview. Please feel free to contact me should you need
additional information or would like to schedule an interview earlier. I can be telephoned at (714)
555-0987. If I am not at home, please leave a message on my answering machine, and I will contact
you as soon as possible. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,                            The proposal or closing

Jane Smith


"A resume without a cover letter is like an unannounced salesperson showing up at your door. If
you are going to let in a perfect stranger, you at least want to see their credentials. This is
exactly what a cover letter does. It introduces you, a total stranger, to the reader. It must be
compelling, personable, and brief. It needs to specifically relate to the position in question.
Remember, you only have eight seconds to convince the reader to invite you in." (Barbara B.
Vinitsky and Janice Y. Benjamin from How to Become Happily Employed.)

The cover letter serves as the introduction for your resume. No resume should ever be sent out
without one. While your resume can remain the same for every company to which you apply, the
cover letter should be created separately and individually for each position for which you express
interest. Your career objective should be included in the cover letter, on the resume, or both. By
including it in the cover letter (which has been written separately anyway), you can tailor the
objective to the job you are applying for.

Studies indicate that your cover letter has a life expectancy of eight seconds, so it must be brief,
yet informative. The letter should have three recognizable parts: the opening, which explains why
you are writing, ("I'm responding to your advertisement...."); the main body, which lists two or
three of your major accomplishments and gives the reader good reasons to want to interview you;
and the closing, which expresses a desire for future communication. Be sure your letter draws a
connection between the needs of the current job opening and the skills you can bring to the job.
Do not use a form letter. Each cover letter should be typed individually, addressed to the
individual who is doing the hiring, and tailored to the position and needs of that company. It will
usually be three to four paragraphs on one page. Refer to publications such as “Gregg Reference
Manual” for proper letter layout and spacing.

The Opening tells the reader why you are writing. One example is:

“I am writing to apply for the position of Administrative Assistant in your sales department that
was posted in the Sunday, Jan 16, 2003, Traverse City Record~Eagle. I have attached my resume
and included some additional background information in this letter you may find helpful.”

You could also state something like:

“ I am writing in response to a conversation I had with Mark Smith, in your advertising
department, who encouraged me to apply for the Administrative Assistant position that you are
currently seeking candidates for.

The Main Body tells the reader who you are and gives them reason to invite you to an interview.
 It can be considered the motivational part of the letter. It is intended to convince the reader that
you are a viable candidate and should be interviewed. It does not include the information in your
resume but can introduce it or refer to it. The kind of person you are and how you will fit into
the organization is a very important part of the hiring process. Therefore this section is a good
place to tell them some things about who you are and what you can do. Examples may include
statements as to your ability to handle multiple tasks, your dependability, or your leadership

The Closing or Proposal section of the cover letter is the last section. This is where you thank
the reader and make the proposal for further communication. One example is:

“Thank you for reviewing my resume and I look forward to an opportunity to meet with you and
discuss my qualifications and how I may become an asset to your company. I can be contacted at
the telephone number and address provided on this letter. In the event you call and I am not at
home, please leave a message on my answering machine and I will return your call my first
opportunity. Thank you.“


A reference page should always be prepared on a separate page but is only submitted when the
prospective employer specifically requests it. The statement “References will be provided upon
request” should not be included in your resume. If the prospective employer wants references
they will ask for them. You may use that space to give them some additional information about
yourself. An example of a replacement for the reference statement may be:

                           Career-minded, honest, dependable and
                            can be counted on to do quality work!

Reference page information should include full names, titles, work addresses, and daytime
telephone numbers. You can also include their relationship such as “Supervisor” or “Drafting and
Design Instructor.” Professional references should include only those people who can speak
directly to your ability to do a job. Personal references refer to those who can speak to your
character. Usually personal references are not included unless specifically requested.

                                     REFERENCE PAGE

                                         References for

                           Allison Z. Applegate
Name, Title
Company Name
Company Street Address
Company City, State, Zip Code
Work Telephone Number

Mr. John Smith, Production Manager
Acme Widget Company
1234 American Way
Lakeview, ZP 55555
(543) 555-5555

Ms. Susan Noname, Purchasing Agent
Black Building Supplies
POB 123
Whataview, MI 33333
(341) 555-5555

Mrs. Jane Doe, Vice President
The Creative Donothing
POB 666
Wataplace, TI 77777
(564) 555-5555

Note: The person’s title can be on the first line with the name or on the second line depending on
length. All references should be arranged the same way.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Resumes
Do state your job/career objective, including what you want to do and what you can do regarding
the type of position you are seeking now, not ten years from now. For example, to secure entry
level sales position applying the knowledge and abilities developed through my business
management degree.

Do include at least personal address data, job/career objective, previous work experience,
educational and/or academic background, how references may be obtained, and military service (if
applicable). Optional inclusions are honors/awards, community involvement, hobbies, and
highlights of qualifications.
Do give only factors pertinent to the job or type of employment desired.
Do list pertinent employment starting with most recent. Include position title, company name,
location, dates of employment, and description of responsibilities.
Do list achievements made while in past jobs.
Do be positive and brief.
Do avoid trite statements.
Do strive for neatness and easy reading (remember sufficient margins).
Do prepare several versions, possibly focused on different types of positions.
Do customize highlights section for each position.
Do write your own resume.
Do proofread for correct spelling, grammar, and typing.

Don't include your age, marital status, height, weight, health condition, or salary expectations.
Don't use abbreviations or slang.
Don't be negative or wordy.
Don't list job title, if the job was very specific.
Don't list hobbies, unless extremely relevant to type of employment desired.
Don't list references names and addresses, except on a separate page.
Don't send your resume without a cover letter


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