How to Write a Resume

How to Write a Resume

Are you looking for a new job or internship? If so, it may be time to make a new resume, or make your very first resume. Your resume is the first impression you get to make with your potential future employer, so you want to make it count. It should be clear, concise, easy to read, while presenting all of the reasons why you're the ideal candidate for the job. You only get one first impression, so it's important to make sure that your resume stands our to the hiring manager in a positive way.

Understand the Goal of a Resume

The purpose of a resume is to show the value that you will bring to the table with your new position. While you may have a wealth of knowledge and expertise, a hiring manager may receive hundreds of resumes and won't want to read 5 full pages that are jam-packed with paragraphs. Every piece of information you have on your resume should directly relate to the job you're applying for, so you need to tailor your skills and experience to each job application.

Start with a Brainstorming Session

Get out a blank piece of paper and write down your job goals, hopes, dreams, and desires. In addition, write down any skills that you have you think would be useful for the job you're applying for, and any skills you feel you need to acquire to better perform at your new job. This brainstorming session can help you get everything you need together to write your resume. After you've done some brainstorming, review your previous resumes.

How current is your previous resume? Is is straight and to the point? Is it missing any key pieces of experience? If you don't have a resume start with a basic timeline. Write down everything you've done or accomplished every year. From there, you can narrow down specific skills and experiences that relate to the job you're applying for.

I found the table below that shows how you can translate your volunteer experience into a job skill. This is the way that you need to think while your brainstorming. That is to say, you need to think about things to include in your resume only if they relate to the job you're applying for.

table

What to Include in Your Résumé

  • Contact Information: Include you full name, email address, physical address or post office box, phone number, blog or website, and social profiles. Make it easy for anyone to get in contact with you through a variety of channels. For example, see below. If you wanted to include social profiles I would insert them under the "home URL" section, or at the bottom of the entire resume.

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  • Objective: This can be a simple one or two sentence piece of information that expresses your goals in terms of your career and job. This can be one of the hardest parts of your resume. It's such a short statement, but it needs to pack a powerful punch. Check out these resources to help you write a fantastic resume objective: What's Your Resume Objective?, Sample Resume Objectives. In addition, WikiHow has an amazing list of sample resume objectives. I've included a short preview of some of their sample objectives below:

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  • Education: Include the degrees you've received, along with the year you received the degree or information. Make sure to include your school or department rank if you attended a school known for a certain degree. In addition, it can be advantageous to show if you graduated with honors or received special awards during your college career. In some cases you may want to highlight any specific courses that you attended that a recruiter or hiring manager may see as beneficial in completing the job. Unless you are a current high school student, do not include your high school or high school degree.

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  • Work Experience & Internships: For your work experience everything should have your job title and then a sub-header that is a job description. This description should be something like "Managerial Experience," or "Management Experience."

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  • Volunteer Experience: This section is specifically dedicated to un-paid experience. Anything you did in your free time that benefited other people.
  • Skills: This section is dedicated to expressing any specific skills that you've acquired that can help you with your job. Do you know how to use Photoshop and InDesign? Are you able to use Microsoft Word? You don't want this section to go on forever, but you do want to include all of the skills that pertain to the job you want. Think of all the skills you've gained through your work and volunteer experiences, make a really long list and then start to cut it down. The Purdue Online Writing Lab, recommends that your skills section look something like the one they feature on their site (depicted below):

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 8.35.40 AMIf you're looking for more help writing the skills section of your resume check out these resources: Showcase Marketable Skills in Your Resume, Skills to Put on a Job Application, List of Resume Skills, and Differences Between Technical and Transferable Skills.

  • Awards/Special Recognition: Have you received any specific awards or some special recognition for your work before? If so, that may add a little gold star to your resume.

As I said before, you're going to want to tailor your resume to the job you're applying. You probably have a lot of experience that doesn't apply to the job you're applying for, or you may need to re-word your experience so that it makes sense in the scope of the job. The same goes for certain skills, they may not all apply to the job that you're applying for, or you may need to transition your skill set to match the job description.

If you want to check out a few resume samples, here are some resources to help get you started: About.com Resume Samples, Monster.com Resume Samples, and 65 Resume Samples for Non-Management Jobs.

Résumé Guidelines and Page Formating

  • Limit Page Length: Don't go over two full pages. Someone doesn't want to read a novel, they want all the information presented to them in a clear and concise format.
  • Choose a Format Type: There are a variety of ways to structure your resume.
  • Don't Include Certain Information: Do not include your height, weight, marital status, or any personal information unless the position directly requires it.
  • Include Action and Positive Keywords: Incorporate keywords that accentuate your experience and features. Some of these include: achieved, accomplished, adapted, budgeted, built, developed, designed, demonstrated, doubled, earned, engaged, employed, edited, exchanged, endorsed, enforced, explained, guided, generated, hired, handled, improved, identified, implemented, innovated, launched, managed, minimized, modeled, negotiated, operated, oversaw, organized, pursued, persuaded, performed, pioneered, ranked, resolved, revamped, responded, retained, trained, utilized, and verified.
  • Include Optional Information: You can include optional testimonials, and reviews if they are short enough and pertain to the job. These might best fit on a platform like LinkedIn.

If you're looking for help getting started with your resume, and don't have a template in mind check out some of our awesome resume templates. You can tweak and change them to fit your needs. Here are some of my favorites:

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Before You Send Off Your Resume

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread. It's important to make sure that you have no grammatical or punctuation errors before you send off your resume. If you misspell a basic word or say something the wrong way, you're already off to a bad start. It's easy enough to take an extra ten minutes and make sure you've spelled everything correctly. You want your first impression to be memorable, but for the right reasons..not because of a spelling error.

Boost Your Resume

It's great if you already have a wealth of experience, tons of specialized skills, and portfolios of your work, but sometimes your resume may need a little something extra. If you don't have a lot on your resume right now, or you're just looking to add something that will help you stand out amongst the competition check out these tips for boosting and vamping up your resume:

  • Learn a New Language: Learning a new language can be a lot of fun, and great for your job. Many companies and businesses are looking for people fluent in a multitude of languages, so by learning a new language you'll move to the front of the line. Check out these online resources to help you learn a new language: BBC Languages, Livemocha, Rosetta Stone,
  • Take a Class: Use tools like YouCanGo by the College Board to find the colleges and universities nearest you to start learning new skills. If you're looking to enter a new field, or get a higher paid position adding courses to your resume can really make you stand out. Highlight any projects you completely while taking those courses, or any volunteer and service experience that was part of the curriculum. Learn a new skill like graphic design to enhance your ability to do your job, or a managerial class to get ahead at work. You can find a multitude of online courses through these channels: OpenCulture, UC Berkeley Extension Online, OnlineCourses.com, and Coursera.
  • Volunteer: Giving back to the community is not only a good way to boost your resume, but it's good for your general well-being. People that volunteer and give their time back are known to feel happier. In addition, while volunteering you might actually learn a thing or two, become interested in a new subject, and make new friends. Find awesome volunteer opportunities through these websites: VolunteerMatch, VolunteerInfo, and the Volunteer Center.
  • Start a Blog: Starting a blow is a great creative outlet. You'll be able to express yourself, tell the world what's going on with you, share interesting information, and educate others. On top of that, you'll have a ready-made portfolio of your writing quality. If anyone is looking for writing samples, all you have to do is point them over to your blog. It's a great way to showcase your creativity, expertise, and interests. Getting started blogging right away with Wordpress.
  • Ge Social: Sign up for social services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You'll be able to see the latest news and trends around, and also share your own updates. In addition to learning a lot, these tools will help you make hundreds of contacts that can open up thousands of doors for you. Include these social profiles on your resume and help others connect with you. In addition, register with WeFollow and Klout to improve your influence and understand how the effects of your social activity are paying off.
  • Learn a new Hobby or Skill: Take a cooking class, learn to garden, craft, do a variety of DIY projects, and anything else you can think of. These skills will likely pay off in the workplace and open other doors for you. Check out these sites to learn new hobbies and skills: Instructables, LifeHacker, and Skillshare.

 

The Final Word: I hope that these tips and tricks for writing a fantastic résumé have helped you. It can be very overwhelming finding a new job or internship, so take it one day at a time and put your best foot forward with an awesome resume. I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors, and hoped that this has helped you.

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4 Comments

  1. Beth Rufener

    Thanks for the great tips! Also thanks for sharing your faves from Creative Market. These are great examples of how creative professionals can apply their skills to a technical document like a résumé. If you're a graphic designer, I think the future employer to whom you hand your résumé should be able to tell, just by glancing over the page without even reading a word. I've applied principles of design to my own résumé - certainly a step up from your boring, humdrum, high-school and college assignment - and have had lots of compliments from job interviewers. It's great to hear from a future employer, "Wow! That's a pretty résumé," but of course it's more important that it is written well. Thanks for the great article!

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