Sitting down to write your first resume can be a mind-baffling event. If only for the fact that this one (or two) sheet of paper can affect whether you get a job or not, writing a resume can be rough. But it doesnâ€™t have to be necessarily that bad.
There are tremendous resources available to help you. A great place to start is your local library. But if all those resume guides seem intimidating, start by considering the following points.
You should always begin by conducting a self-assessment. Take a weekend and thoroughly examine what you have done. And by the way, just make it very straightforward; for each job you have held, answer the following questions:
1. What were you most proud of during that time?
2. What was your legacy, or impact, on your work unit?
3. And if you were not there, how would they have been affected?
If some of those answers are hard in coming, a good source can be a confidante, or even your spouse. Ask them if they remember what you bragged about. Also, look at your past evaluations and use the good comments that your supervisors wrote about you. This is all fair game.
And donâ€™t forget letters of recommendation and written â€œattaboyâ€™s or attagirlâ€™s,â€ these are all good sources of real-time testimonials. I think testimonials, as Kevin uses in Guerrilla Resumes, are great.
As you write the meat of your resume, assuming that you have decided on the format, keep these points in mind:
1. Your results and accomplishments must be quantified. Hiring managers need to see specific results. You should not think because you â€œonly managed 2 people and increased sales revenue from $59,000 to $81,000 while increasing gross margin from 18% to 27%,â€ that the numbers are not impressive; therefore you would be better off being vague. So what if you did not save the company $120 million (if you did, great, write it down), your accomplishments are in context with your job. Be specific.
2. If you are an employee of the month, quarter, year, or have any level of recognition for anything, it should be on your resume. Leave nothing out. Worse, do not let your sense of what is important or trivial guide you. If you are in doubt, use your friends or mentors as sounding boards. If you do not want to do that, use a forum on a job board to ask whether your recognition was trivial or not.
3. You should write your resume for the hiring manager to read. It should not be â€œstuffedâ€ with keywords because you read that all resumes are scanned into resume scanning software. You should never write your resume for software. But mostly, a resume built around keywords reads funny and weird. Still, scan through the job ad or posting, and pull out a few, important keywords. Sprinkle the keywords around so that they sound natural.
4. Particularly if you are older, you should make note of your computer skills or technical knowledge on your resume. Industries move fast and believe they are always innovating (even if they still stuck in last century), so their main concern with older workers is that the worker is not current. Your resume should immediate remove that one little barrier.
5. You should always use action verbs. More specifically, use action verbs that show you were front, rather than in the group.
Finally, before you do anything else, have someone you trust to be brutally honest review your draft resume. You should join a job club and ask for their opinion. You should also take all criticism with a grain of salt. Do not constantly revise your resume from one person to the other and back again. Once you are satisfied with your resume, tweak it here and there; but keep wholesale revisions to a minimum.
That is until you either get a job or determine the resume is not working.
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