Introduction to Resumes

What is a résumé?

A résumé is a document that briefly summarizes your education, employment history, and other experiences that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. Your resume should be neat, concise, and persuasive. Your employer will only glance at your résumé (an average of 30 seconds), which is why it is important to make a fantastic first impression in the way you organize and write your résumé.

A good résumé should include:

  • A heading. In this heading should be your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.  Make sure that your e-mail address is a professional one, not something like "crazyeyedsuzan." You may include your own website address if it contains professional information and images.
  • An objective. The objective will be the focus of your résumé. You should write an objective that tells the employer the sort of work you are hoping to do, rather than something philosophical. The more specific your objective is the better because then your potential employer will know exactly where you should be. Tailor your objective to the job you are seeking.
  • Your education and related coursework. Your education section will tell your employers what you have learned. You may also decide to include related coursework in this category or a separate category if it helps show your employer your skill set. Don't list every class, but the ones that are particularly relevant to the position you are applying for. At the very minimum, the education section should include your degree and when it was earned (or is expected to be earned), and the name of your university. You may also include your GPA, but you might decide not to if your GPA is below a 3.0. You should also list if you are on the Dean's List or have received any other academic honors in this section, especially if they are your only awards.
  •  Your experience. It's important to show your employers what you have done outside of school for your job.  Don't be afraid to put items such as fast-food experience, if you have any applicable experience in such areas. Customer service is an important skill set to have. Just make sure that you describe your accomplishments. If you handled money, consider including the amount that you were trusted to handle. Be sure to mention if you got an award such as "Employee of the Month" or the equivalent, or a raise/promotion. Also include your summer and part-time work experience that doesn't relate to the position you're seeking. If you haven't worked in a job or completed an internship, you can use a project that you completed in an upper-level class, but be sure that you're honest about what it is.  The project will show your knowledge in a particular area, but you don't want the employer to think that it was a full-time job that you've had for years.


  • Key skills, and/or an honors and awards sections. Not every resume needs a key skills or an awards section, but some people may want to include it in order to highlight additional experience.  Things like a foreign language or website building may be something you'd include here. Just make sure they are relevant to the job you're applying for. Leadership experience, however, is usually welcome.
  • A list of activities.  A list of activities goes hand-in-hand with the above section. Sports, a fraternity or sorority or other activities may show you as being a well-rounded individual. Listing your activities may show your employers a little bit more about you.

Sample Résumé

First M. Last

1234 Street • City, MI 49882 • 906.555.6666


To obtain a job as a reporter at the Mining Journal


B.A. English,

May 2012

Minor:  History

GPA:  3.9/4.0

Northern Michigan University

Dean's List 2008-2012


Crew Member, Wendy's, Marquette, MI  

Fall 2008—present

  • Work 20 hours per week to help fund college education.

English Tutor, self-employed, Marquette, MI

Summer 2010

  • Increased  students confidence in the English language

  • Tutored seven English Second Language students in English

Server, Big Boys, Marquette, MI

2006 – 2008

  • Developed innovative serving routine to speed up customer orders and to give more one-on-one time between servers and customers

  • Participated in corporate program to increase sales
  • Achieved all sales goals and increased sales by 13%


Sigma Tau Delta, President
NMU Soccer