How to Prepare your Resume

A resume is more of “a life on a page,” but how could anyone put everything important about herself on a single piece of paper? Resumes are much more specific in nature, it includes relevant information about yourself. Just like life, the resume has its past, present and future. As your career goals shift or the job market changes, as you grow personally and professionally, chances are you will need to re-write your resume or at least need to create new versions.

How do you know what in your life–past, present, and future–is most relevant to prospective employers? How do you select which information to include? The quick answer to both these questions is “it depends.” It depends on your individual career goals as well as on the professional goals of the companies hiring in your area or field of interest. In the end, only you, through research, planning, questioning and self-reflection, can determine the shape and content of your resume, but the strategies below along with those on the job search, can help you ask the right questions and begin exploring your options.

So, to start the job search, you need to prepare your resume. These are the top 10 tips to resume writing:

Resume Writing Tip #1: Gather your background materials. To complete your resume, you’ll need to know your dates ofemployment at each of your previous jobs and when you went to school. You’ll also need to be able to describe your skills and accomplishments on the job, so put some thought into those areas.

Resume Writing Tip #2: Decide on a format. Before you can start writing a resume, you’ll need to decide if the functional or chronological format will work best for you. Remember, you want to put yourself and your abilities in the best light.

Resume Writing Tip #3: Put together a general outline. A resume outline will help you get organized and will prevent you from overlooking any essential pieces of information that should be included.

Resume Writing Tip #4: If your resume is targeted at a specific employer or career path, learn all you can about what they need. Spending time on this research will help you with your resume, with the cover letter that goes with your resume, and with the upcoming interview. Make sure you know what qualities will most benefit the employer and think about how your abilities match those qualities. (Read another resume writing tip on how to target.)

Resume Writing Tip #5: Plan, plan, plan. Before you actually start writing, spend time just thinking about how you’ll present yourself in the resume. What is your objective in seeking a job? This objective should serve as a sort of bull’s-eye to structure your resume around. What have been your most significant accomplishments? You’ll want to highlight them. What unique qualities do you bring to an employer? Think in terms of benefits. Also think about the resume design you’ll use, the fonts within, and the resume wording .

Resume Writing Tip #6: Start writing, following your outline. Take your time. Use a lot of action words. Be concise. Don’t use “responsibilities included” or “responsible for.” It’s a waste of space. Use bullets, rather than long paragraphs.

Resume Writing Tip #7: Cut and paste your content into your resume template. If you’re at this site, you’re probably not an experienced, professional resume writer. So, take a resume writing tip from a pro. Use a resume template. There is no reason why your resume must look amateurish.

Resume Writing Tip #8: Review, edit, and proofread like a maniac. One of the biggest resume mistakes is typos or grammatical errors. These errors may seem trivial, but they can cost you the interview, and ultimately the job. After all, if you can’t be bothered to make sure that your resume is 100% accurate, what guarantee is there that your job performance will be high caliber?

Resume Writing Tip #9: Get someone else you trust to look at it. It can be really helpful to get someone who knows you to look at your resume. Not only are they more likely to catch simple errors, but they may point out strengths you’ve missed or underemphasized. Tell them you want their honest opinion and you’re open to questions. Use their input to clarify your resume. Even if you write your own resume, you may want to think about getting a professional to do a resume critique .

Resume Writing Tip #10: Send it out into the world. The more resumes you submit, the more likely you are to get an interview. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by applying for only one job. And, don’t be afraid to take some risks and apply for a job you’re interested in, even if you don’t quite match all the qualifications. Most employers ask for many more qualifications than they absolutely require.

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