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What will I need to get started writing my resume?

July 22, 2011

What will I need to get started writing my résumé?

By Judy Robbins

“The secret of success is focus of purpose.”

Thomas Edison

Focus your resume precisely on the type of job you have decided to apply for.

Gather your job information including your old résumé with past job details and dates, published job descriptions of your new job target, education and credentials, volunteer work and community activities, awards and honors, and a list of your unique skills and abilities. Bring everything pertinent you can think of to the table including your past accomplishments on and off your job. You can sort through them later to decide their relevance to your current job search and whether to include them in your résumé. Keep in mind, your goal is to tell the employer how you are different from other applicants and to prove you are the best potential candidate. The result is they will want to talk with you and schedule an interview immediately. Voilà!  Desired result!

Divide your assembled information into 6 major categories:

  1. Work Experience and Accomplishments
  2. Education and Certifications
  3. Skills and Abilities
  4. Honors and Awards
  5. Volunteer and Community Activities
  6. Other Interests

Work Experience and Accomplishments:

  • List your job experiences, paid and unpaid.
  • Describe what you did on each job, your responsibilities, and the skills required.
  • Note your successes, accomplishments, or any recognition you received.
  • Write about your achievements and quantify them in percentages, dollars, and results.

(Employers are looking for proof and numbers are important.)

Education and Certifications:

  • If you are a student, or have returned to school to get an MBA, list education information at the top of your résumé.
  • Professionals, place education at the end of your résumé unless you have a new relevant degree or the degree major is more important than the job experience.
  • Include your graduation year unless there is a concern of age discrimination. Prestigious awards and a GPA over 3.0 can be included in the first years after graduation.
  • Include related certifications, credentials, licenses and other items that qualify you for your job target.

Skills and Abilities:

  • This could be the section where you list computer skills, especially if you are in a field like IT or graphic design.
  • List networks, equipment, software and other applicable skills the employer is looking for.
  • Save valuable résumé space and eliminate listing basic computer skills an employer assumes you, and just about everyone else, has.

Honors and Awards:

  • If your career encompasses awards, distinctions, grants and other professional recognitions you may list those in a separate section of your résumé.

Volunteer, Community Activities:

  • Assemble a list of volunteer work, community activities, clubs, and associations that demonstrate to the employer you are a well-rounded candidate.
  • Consider these items carefully to make sure there is nothing that will come across as too “unusual” to the employer. Do not include anything religious, political, or personal.
  • List only the organization, your role, and the year.

Other Interests:

  • If you have interests that will add to your professional brand you can include them under a section at the end of your résumé as “other interests.”

Assemble the above information about your career life before beginning your résumé project. Don’t wait until you are in a job crisis to create or update your résumé. You should have a résumé that illustrates your personal brand ready to “deliver” at all times. With adequate research, you may want to write your own résumé or, if writing isn’t one of your best skills, leave this to a professional résumé writer. Think of the ramifications of having a poor résumé represent you and the negative impact it will have on your job, earning power, and life over the long term.

The six categories of information you have assembled will form your résumé’s foundation and give you an overview of what to include. In an upcoming post I will note more specifics and post samples of the three major resume types, chronological, functional, and combination of both. Many times I favor the combination type. There is no “one way” to write a résumé and you may be creative in presentation as long as it is concise, formatted correctly, without errors, and based totally on truth. Truth can never be compromised.

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