Resume Writing 101
Part 1 Getting Started (i.e. If I stare at this blank computer screen any longer, my head will explode)
So I was sitting there staring at the computer screen with no idea of what to type. No, I was not writing a juicy, tell-all novel about the sexy world of staffing. I was trying to write my own resume and did not know where to start. Despite working in staffing for 16 years and conducting monthly resume writing classes for the last 5 years, I could not get past my name and email address. It was then that I realized: despite how easy I made it sound during those classes, summarizing yourself on a piece of paper is a lot harder than it looks.
But it does not have to be. After spending years talking about resumes with job seekers and employers as well as my own experience, here are some points on how to make the process a little less painful.
First of all, let me start by pointing out that you will talk to 100 different people about resumes and get a hundred different answers. You never know who is going to be reading the resume, what they are looking for to want to call you for an interview, or in some cases, screen you out. The items below should give you your best shot to land that interview. These are the most commonly asked questions that I have gotten from people working on their resumes.
Question: Should I use the same resume for each job I am applying for?
Answer: No, every resume you submit should be customized to the job you are applying for. Every job has a job description and job requirements. You want your resume to as closely resemble the job description as possible so essentially you are tailoring your resume to make it look like you have done that job before.
Question: How do you tailor a resume without cutting and pasting the requested job description?
Answer: Well let’s take a step back and talk about writing your “Base Resume” as I like to call it. You will want to write this first. Your Base Resume is an in-depth analysis of all your professional work history. You may end up with 20 bullet points for each job and a 6 page resume but that is where you need to start. Will you use all of those bullet points? No but it’s the analysis of your past work when you do this that will make it easier to write the customized resume.
When you are writing your resume, try to not focus on tasks but rather on what you brought to the job and achieved. One of the best pieces of advice someone gave me about resumes was that if you are having trouble putting together bullet points about a job, think about the accomplishments you were proud of while working at that job. These items show you did more than just your basic job description and they will be things you will be able to talk about with enthusiasm in the interview. Think about things that you changed about the job that are now common practice. It is always great when you can write a bullet point with a quantifiable “increase in sales” or cost savings.” Once you have taken the time to analyze and write the Base Resume, you will be able to look at the job you are applying for and copy/paste all of the relevant bullet points from your previous work history and create a customized resume tailored to the job you want.
Another important aspect of resume building is to find out as much as you can about the employer and what they value in an employee. That way you can emphasize these areas in your cover letter and resume. I was once talking to an HR Manager and she told me that 95% of the people they hired for Program Manager roles were ex Peace Corps. I am not sure you could walk into another office and find that level of commonality about anything other than the employees breathed air. It’s just one example of knowing what an employer really values. The more you know about the company and its employees, the better you will reveal links between their need and your experience. Use resources like the company website, LinkedIn profiles, informational interviews, alumni groups and Google.
By: Greg Foutz, Manager – Staffing Services & Recruitment