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Resumes and Cover Letters

Gathering Information

First you need to brainstorm and identify what you have accomplished in terms of education, training and experience. Consider what you are currently involved in, and then work backwards. This should be a comprehensive list which you will then edit to include only the most relevant information. Include any field work (internships), paid employment, volunteer work, activities, memberships, etc. The categories listed below may be helpful.

  • Education
  • Honors / Awards
  • Field or Internship Experience
  • Related Experience
  • Research Experience
  • Leadership Experience
  • Professional Experience
  • Management Experience
  • Athletic Experience
  • Military Experience
  • Customer Service Experience
  • Freelance Experience
  • Interests / Hobbies
  • Performance Experience
  • Travel Experience
  • Training / Development Experience
  • College Employment
  • Community Service
  • College Activities
  • Memberships
  • Foreign Study
  • Computer Skills / Expertise
  • Continuing Education
  • Writing Experience
  • Presentations


Organizing Your Document

Present the most relevant information first. For a student teaching resume, Education should come first, beginning with your most recent institution. See sample resumes for additional formatting suggestions. References do not need to be included in the resume, but you should consider opening a Credential File in Career Services.

Experience Categories

Categories should be specific. If everything is listed under "Experience" or "Work Experience", then as a reader it will take me much longer to sort through the kind of experience referred to in each position. Categories may include RELATED experience, TEACHING experience, TUTORING experience, LEADERSHIP experience, etc. A position as a substitute teacher, summer camp counselor, tutor or day care provider would be related experience for someone seeking to teach.

Developing a Dynamic Description

The descriptions you develop are critical to the success of your resume. These descriptions demonstrate to your reader how effectively you can assemble and prioritize information, and how you can communicate in written form. During this process you will compile more information than you will actually need to include. The editing phase is designed to identify the information that you really want your reader to learn about each experience you have listed.

  1. What did you do? This section focuses on the activities of the job and the clientele. Ask yourself the following questions: How much? How often? How did you do this? For whom? Duties? Responsibilities? Results? If you are providing services to students/clients (i.e., teachers and social workers), ask: How many? Setting? Ages? Disabilities, if any?
  2. What are your skills? When assessing each experience, consider the following skill areas, (keeping in mind that this is not an inclusive list): Communication, Organization, Teamwork, Critical Thinking, Writing, Coordination of Efforts, Flexibility, Leadership, Management, Computer, Problem Resolution, Planning, Independence, Ability to Prioritize.
  3. What was your most significant accomplishment? This step is important for two reasons. First, it helps you define what holds importance for you, and therefore will help you edit your descriptions. In addition, however, it helps clarify and prioritize your experiences so that you can confidently discuss them in interviews. Your most significant accomplishment is something you should probably list first in your description.

Pulling it Together/Editing

This is a critical point in resume development.  Remember, you want your resume to be strong, not long.

  • Survey your list and highlight the information that you clearly want your reader to know. Make sure to include information that most closely resembles the type of work you seek.
  • Descriptions should include sentence fragments, not complete sentences. This helps keep your document concise. Do not use pronouns such as "I" or "we". Typically, you should consider 3-4 sentence fragments for each key description, or use a bulleted format for your most important experiences. See sample resumes.
  • Begin your sentence fragments with action verbs, e.g., "Developed and implemented creative unit on the environment." Avoid starting sentence fragments with "Responsible for ..."  For help with writing your sentence fragments, you can click here for a list of action verbs.
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