Your resume isn't your autobiography. It's a short document, meant to show an employer that you're a desirable candidate for an available job. Writing an effective resume presents you as a well-qualified, interesting individual who is worthy of a face-to-face interview.
Employers may receive over 100 resumes for a single job opening. While ideally each candidate would receive equal time, the fact is that employers or their human resource departments typically sort through a pile and put the most interesting specimens at the top of the heap. Statistically, your resume has about ten to twenty seconds to either float to the top (for further analysis) or sink to the bottom (obscurity in the employer's personnel files).
Steps to Writing a Resume
Whether you're writing a resume for one employer or several, the job of writing a resume is much easier when you take the time to put all of your information in front of you. Besides that, putting all of your information in one place gives you a handy reference to make sure that each resume you write has all the information you want to disclose to prospective employers. It also makes updating and writing new resumes easier than starting from scratch.
Resumes are divided into three sections: experience, skills, and education. Using these sections, brainstorm a list of all the data that might be pertinent to getting the job you want now and jobs you may consider in the future.
If you're writing a resume for a specific job, put the employer's job description at the top of the list and use it to target the specifics you'll include in your resume. If you're looking into positions with several different employers, you may want to write more than one resume for each different job. Using a list helps you "slice and dice" your information, emphasizing qualities that are most relevant to each specific job.
Choosing a Resume Format
The three most common resume formats are the reverse chronological format, the skills format, and the combination format. Some resume formats conform to a specific type of employment. However, usually you'll choose the resume format that best emphasizes your qualifications.
Although each resume format has a basic structure, you can make your resume stand out by using some simple variations and customizations.
Writing Your Resume
Begin writing your resume by choosing the style that best presents your outlined information to a prospective employer. In any kind of writing, it's not so much what you say as how you say it and how you present your information.
Write your resume in active voice. Instead of saying, "I had experience in organizing ______", simply say, "Organized ______". Try to refrain from using the word "I" whenever you can.
When you've completed writing your resume draft, you'll need to check both the mechanics and the content.
Checking Your Resume
Don't rely on your spell or grammar checker to pick up resume mistakes. Automated checkers often ignore homonyms (like way and weigh) and acronyms. In addition, although a good grammar checker can help you make the right choices, it may red flag some commonly used phrases in deference to letter-perfect language.
The best way to check your resume is to get up and walk away from it after you've finished writing. Frequently, no matter how many times you read a sentence, you can still miss a single typo that would be glaring to another reader.
You know what you mean, but will an objective pair of eyes see your writing the same way you see it? After you've checked your resume draft, it's a good idea to have someone else critique it as well to make sure that your points are as crystal clear to others as they are to you.
Writing a resume is more than compiling a catalog of your experience, skills and education. Your resume can mean more than just getting an interview for a job. A good resume is the first link in the chain that helps you cinch the perfect job and your first chance to make a good impression on a prospective employer. If it succeeds, your resume may even open the door to better job placement at a higher wage than entry level!
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