Tips for Writing your Resume

Writing a great resume does not necessarily mean you should follow the rules you hear through the grapevine. It does not have to be one page or follow a specific resume format. Every resume is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication. It should be appropriate to your situation and do exactly what you want it to do. Below are some steps to help get you started.

  1. Find a job online that is ideal (almost). What I mean by that is maybe it is the ideal position, but in the wrong location. Or, the organization is not a good fit for you. You can use this job description and skill requirements to focus your resume on the type of position you are looking to land. What skills are they highlighting, what soft skills are they seeking?
  2. Develop a detailed list of keywords/skills. Job boards and companies use resume database systems to store and manage the many resumes they receive. These systems have built-in search engines (much like the search engines you use online) that can search thousands of resumes in just a few seconds. What are they searching for? Keywords that define job openings. List the keywords that qualify as skills in a defined section of your resume, but to avoid making that too cumbersome, weave your keywords into the job descriptions within your resume.
  3. Include contact information in your resume. This seems like an obvious point, but in this day and age, we all work hard to protect our information. I regularly receive resumes without any contact info! Eliminating this from your resume can guarantee you will not be contacted about a position. Your resume should include your full name, address (at least city/state), telephone number, and email address. We recommend both home and cell phone numbers. This information should be typed into the text of the resume and not into the header to ensure resume parsers can accurately sort the information. To keep it safe, be particular where you upload your resume.
  4. Elaborate on your work experience. Tell us what you did and how! Instead of just listing responsibilities, include tools & skills used to accomplish the tasks. Use positive action words such as Accomplished, Generated, Developed, Ensured, Advocated, and Supported, and use a bullet or two to tell the employer your accomplishments or favorite aspects of the position. List all positions in reverse chronological order.
  5. Address gaps in your resume. If you’ve ever been laid off, fired, quit, or are returning to work after years of retirement, parenting, illness, or something else, don’t leave those years of unemployment blank in your work experience. Fill that gap with a relevant “job title” for some activity (paid or unpaid) you were doing during that time. If you can’t come up with a title that’s relevant, then pick one that’s honest and shows you have good character (such as “parent” or “student”).
  6. Finally, list all the “other” things in relevant places. If you are a new college graduate, it is important to list your education near the top of your resume along with details about your school projects and internships. As you grow in your career, this can move toward the end of your resume. The only exceptions to this approach are if education and certifications are key to the position. (i.e. Civil Engineer, PE, CP, PLS, Ph.D.). Also, use the end of your resume to list professional affiliations, charities, or other impressive things you do with your time.