Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

Writing your own resume. Up to the Challenge? June 20, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 2:06 pm

Writing a resume for yourself can be challenging, at best. That is why most people these days hire a professional to do it. It’s much easier for the professional because they aren’t you! It’s hard for people to figure out what information should stay or go. How many pages? What about this job or that job? What about if I went to several colleges? What if I didn’t graduate from college? Should I omit that job in ‘03 because it was only a few months? How do I put this accomplishment into words? Functional? Chronological? I’m terrible at writing, what am I going to do?

It’s hard enough suddenly finding yourself unemployed, but now the task of writing a resume? Forget it!

Take a deep breath and relax, dear reader. Here is a brief synopsis that will help even the “worst writer in the world” overcome writer’s block and put the pen to paper. Keep in mind though that this really is ‘brief’ and you will probably want to discuss any finer points with a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

1.  When starting your resume, the first thing you need to do is put yourself in the mind of the reader. What do they want to see? What do they really want to hear? Are you in sales? Then it’s numbers. Operations? Then it’s process improvements or cost cuts. Business Development? New opportunities, revenue pipelines, partnerships and so on. Always keep your reader in mind. They want to know what you have done– and can you do it for them?

2. After you add your contact information, you need to determine your job objective. What is it that you really want to do? You need to have a clear understanding of your focus. You know what you have been doing, or what you are good at, but what do you really want to do? What is your brand? If you are uncertain, you need to dig deep within and explore your skills, core competencies and what inspires you. Fill your career summary with keyword action phrases and value-added snippets of what you do best. Summarize. Be bold and confident (not cocky) in your language.

3. Getting to the meat of the resume= your work history. It does not have to be a career obituary, “Here lies Erin. I did this, this, and this every day, all day. I did this all with boring bullet point after bullet point, and ended each job without a bang. Hire me?” You can talk about what you did at your job without putting the reader to sleep. Mix it up a bit.

You might add a mini-paragraph after the job title, as your narrative (what you were brought in to do). You don’t want your mini-paragraph to be too long, because the reader may skip right over it. Keep it brief and to the point. Follow it up with your accomplishments, or deliverables, in an action verb, bulleted format.

Show enthusiasm in your tone when writing about your accomplishments. Get the reader excited, create a story! Paint a picture of what was going on in the company when you were there. Were you brought in to clean up a neglected department? Had to put in new processes where none had been in years? Created synergy among a previously hostile union/management environment? That’s a lot of work and it should show on the resume. Bring it out and show it on the resume. Keep it interesting.

4. Education & Professional Development. If you are out of college, you don’t need to add your high school. Personally, unless you are IN college, I never put high school on a resume and sometimes even then I won’t.  Why? If you have a college degree it is a given you went to high school.

What if you went to several colleges? Add the one you graduated from and omit the rest, unless they were for more specialized courses. I’ve seen some resumes with 5 different colleges, no real majors and only a semester here or there. You don’t need to add those. It looks like you were/are wishy washy and can’t stay focused.

Add your professional development and training courses. They add credibility to your resume and show that you are always eager to learn and/or improve.

5.  Miscellaneous. Volunteering is a great thing– especially when it relates to your job or future job. Add it. Hobbies, interests, height, weight and zodiac sign? Omit it.

DO NOT add any political and religious affiliations.

As for your format, I would stick to a reverse chronological style. This is the most popular choice by recruiters and hiring managers. I also create a chrono/functional hybrid style depending on the clients situation.

These are some ideas to help you in the writing process.  Once you start writing, you may not be able to stop! Be confident, have fun and just do it.

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