Writing a résumé

A résumé provides a well-thought-out, concise picture of you—the job seeker. It needs to communicate quickly, clearly, and accurately your objective, qualifications, experience, credentials, and accomplishments. Your résumé is generally the first impression of you that a potential employer gets, so it is important for it to be concise, yet impressive.

Help

Since most people—especially Christians—don’t like to talk about themselves, you are strongly advised to seek advice and assistance from others—spouse, parents, and knowledgeable friends. They need to be honest, yet complimentary.

In addition, it would be helpful to ask for someone who regularly reviews résumés as part of his or her job for advice in writing the résumé or to review your finished résumé. On occasion, professional résumé writers can be helpful, but make sure you agree on a price up front and pay for it only if you are completely satisfied. Never pay for a résumé compilation in advance of satisfactory completion.

writing a resume

Personal sales brochure

Your résumé is in reality your personal sales brochure and you are the product the résumé or brochure is trying to sell. As such, you need to remember the following.

* Résumés are designed to allow many people to get to know you quickly and easily during the course of your job search.

* Your résumé must look good. It needs to be of the highest quality in content and appearance.

* Highlight your key qualities, accomplishments, assets, and abilities.

* Résumés are used at every level of the organizational world and may be viewed by many different levels of management.

Writing your résumé

The following are some valuable cautions and guidelines that need to be observed when compiling and writing your résumé.

1. If you need help getting started, there are templates available online and in office software programs.

2. You may not be able to write a top-notch quality résumé on the first try. Usually you will need to write several drafts.

3. Your first draft should be as long as necessary to include all important facts and relevant details. Then revise and edit the résumé as many times as needed until you have tailored it to your desired length. A one-page résumé is most desirable. A two-page résumé is acceptable, but more than two pages is unacceptable.

4. Your résumé must be able to do its job of selling you within the first five to twenty seconds. That is generally all the time you have to make a first impression on the decision maker.

5. Your résumé should avoid being so refined that it comes across as phony. Most people who evaluate résumés and make hiring decisions can identify immediately a résumé prepared by a professional.

6. The most important thing in a résumé is the information, not the expensive bond paper or fancy print.

7. Your résumé should identify you, emphasize your special points, highlight your achievements and the end result of your activities and contributions, and indicate the techniques and processes you are an expert at implementing. Don’t downplay your achievements.

8. Focus on the message you are trying to convey. Put yourself in the position of the reader to determine whether you feel the reader would have a clear understanding of your potential by quickly glancing over your résumé.

9. Remember that a résumé does not get you a job—it gets you an interview

Things definitely to avoid

The following are things definitely to avoid when preparing a résumé.

* Devoting more space to early jobs than to more recent jobs.

* Overemphasizing your educational background. If you have been out of school for more than five years, your résumé should be weighted in the direction of work experience and accomplishments.

* Overemphasizing or embellishing work accomplishments, skills, and/or responsibilities.

* Leaving gaps between employment dates. Give a reason for any unemployment periods. List jobs by year, rather than by month and year.

* Typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors. Proof read carefully. Do not mix short phrases with complete sentences; be consistent and use one or the other.

Things that might be avoided

The following are things you might want to leave out of your résumé, especially if you feel it is becoming too lengthy or too wordy.

1. Specific names of references.

2. Reasons for leaving previous employers.

3. Present salary.

4. Outside activities and/or hobbies that are not relevant to the job.

5. Dramatic or fancy type of styling.

6. Colored résumé paper (use white, gray, or cream/buff bond).

7. Personal data (age, martial status, health, and so on).

Things to include

The following are things that you definitely need to include in your résumé.

* Name, current address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

* Objective.

* Summary. This includes non-skilled attributes and strengths, as well as professional skills, abilities, and experience.

* Professional experience. Show dates (reverse order from present), name of company, job title, and job description (responsibilities, duties, achievements, and contributions).

* Education. Name of institution, degree(s), year(s) attended or degree(s) earned, and special honors, awards, or recognition.

* Other (if room is available). These would include professional memberships, civic or social memberships, awards, honors, publications, and accomplishments.

Conclusion

A résumé usually provides employers with the first impression of potential employees, and many times its effectiveness provides potential employees with the only opportunity they will have to convince the potential employers that they would be assets.

Although a résumé is not intended to convince an employer to hire a potential employee, more than anything else it can provide the opportunity for a personal employment interview. For that reason, the development of a quality résumé is one of the most important aspects of a job search.

Originally posted 4/12/13.