Job Search, Resume and Cover Letter Preparation

Job Search Preparation

Now it's time to pursue that change in career. You know what you want, but how do you get it?

Things To Do

  1. Search for open positions
  2. Prepare your resume
  3. Write a great cover letter
  4. Start networking with others: Social networking sites like LinkedIn are great places to connect with other working professionals. If you are a U-M alum, the Alumni Association can help you connect with other alumni.
  5. Brush up on your interviewing skills

Resume Pointers

Supervisors prefer the standard reverse chronological type of resume. This style gives an overview of your progress over time. Your resume should feature your accomplishments and major highlights; giving enough detail to both intrigue reviewers and demonstrate how your skills and experience align to the responsibilities and qualifications of the role you are applying to. Feature your technical skills above your working experience to highlight as many skill sets as you can when reviewers take a first look at your resume.

The purpose of a resume is to get you to the interview. If you are getting invitations to interview, you probably have a good resume. If you are not getting the job, the resume is not the issue and you should take a look at the section on polishing your interview skills.

A resume should contain:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Your knowledge and experience
  • List your work history in reverse chronological order, featuring your most recent work experience
  • Optional: Your job-seeking objective and any awards, or other information pertinent to the career

If using a non-traditional type of resume, be sure you help the hiring supervisor see your skills, how you got them, and how well developed they are. A long list of skills or claims that lacks substance does not make a strong positive impression.

Present yourself as the ideal candidate for a position. Proofread your resume carefully and ask a trusted friend to proof it too.

Pointers for Cover Letters

Cover letters are your chance to really introduce yourself in the selection process. At the university they are usually considered optional for our staff positions, but you should take it upon yourself to make it mandatory and to use that as an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities to the hiring manager. Many units see a lack of a cover letter as "unprofessional" and that usually means no interview.


  • Write it as a business letter
  • Address it to someone. Try to do some research to discover the actual hiring supervisor; or the individual handling the posting.
  • Help the supervisor to see how the information on the resume, and other aspects of your background that are not on the resume, make you a strong candidate for the position.
  • Proofread before sending


  • Address the letter "To Whom It May Concern"
  • Speak of yourself in the third person
  • Repeat information verbatim from your resume