Resume Writing Tips

A Resume is a required marketing tool in most professions. Generally, resumes are one to two pages in length and give the reader a summary of how the applicant can benefit the company or organization. You must decide which style of resume is best for your particular job search. The styles range from the traditional reverse chronological resume to a more contemporary functional or combination resume. The style should remain consistent throughout the resume. Resumes focus on the last 10 years of work history or the five most recent job positions. There are two types of resumes:

  • Functional: A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience, rather than on your chronological work history. It is used most often by people who are changing careers or who have gaps in their employment history.
  • Chronological: A chronological resume starts by listing your work history, with the most recent position listed first. Your jobs are listed in reverse chronological order with your current, or most recent job, first. Employers typically prefer this type of resume because it’s easy to see what jobs you have held and when you have worked at them. This type of resume works well for job seekers with a strong, solid work history.

Do you need a Resume or a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

  • Most students need a resume when seeking assistantships or field experiences.
  • Most MPHs will need a resume for their careers; MS or PhD may require a CV.
  • If you are seeking a position in medicine, academia, or a scientific profession, you will need a CV.


  • Your needs may change as your career progresses. Revisit your resume annually. Make the necessary updates so you always have a current resume.
  • Target your resume to each particular job. Read the job description carefully.
  • List the most important and relevant information, based on the job description, first on your resume.
  • Resume screening software scans for specific terminology or keywords.  For positions requiring specific skills, use the same language from the position description, mirroring those keywords, to list your skills on your resume.

To Get Started:

  1. Make a list of experiences you’ve had: education and training, jobs, internships, research, projects, volunteer, leadership, student organization, etc.
  2. Think about what you contributed, what skills you used and developed, and your significant achievements.
  3. Begin to craft your resume by organizing these experiences into sections. Combine the complete list of all your experiences and all your achievements as your “Master Resume” (referenced in our CV guide)

Customizing Your Resume or Cover Letter


  1. Go through the position description and highlight any keyword(s) that represent your knowledge, skills, and/or experience (no matter what level they are currently at).
  2. Incorporate the keywords into your resume (mainly the bullet point descriptions under your Experience sections).
  3. Return to the position description and among the highlighted keywords; select the 4-6 that are your strongest. These will be the focus for the Summary of Qualifications/Profile section as well as your cover letter.

Cover Letter:

  1. Among the 4-6 strongest qualifications; select the one that is the ultimate strength. This will be the focus for paragraph 2 of your cover letter.
  2. Among the 4-6 strongest qualifications; select one or two other ultimate strengths. This will be the focus for paragraph 3 of your cover letter.

Additional Resources:

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