Building Your Resume for Success

If you read our first article Writing Resumes for Online Databases and decide that now you want to write and build a professional resume, this article is for you. Writing a professional resume and building on that foundation is the first step in introducing yourself to the perspective employer as the “perfect fit”. As stated before, you will only have an average of 20 seconds to capture the readers attention and attain your goal of getting the interview. Once you get your foot in the door, then you sell yourself!

First step – what did the ad say? How do they want to receive resumes? This is an important question because, if you are emailing the resume it could look different when printed out and you want it to be easy to read and look professional!

Cut or print the ad out and have it with you when you begin writing your resume. Notice “key words”, words that describe the job duties and responsibilities that are required for the position.

Be prepared to spend lot of time to write and re-write your resume. It is time consuming, but it is well worth the effort if you get the job. How much effort and time you put into your resume will show and be recognized.

Get a notebook or paper and pen and let’s get to work!

Build Your Resume!

  1. Cut or print out the job advertisement.
  2. Write down the key words from the ad such as duties and responsibilities and traits they are looking for.
  3. List your current job as a heading and below that, list everything you are currently responsible for.
  4. Now list everything that you assist others with or your minor duties.
  5. Organize your job duties from most important to least important.
  6. As you begin to list these items, use words to begin your sentences in the present tense and use action words i.e., Coordinate, Manage, Responsible for, Design, etc…

Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Review it! Did you leave anything out? Ask others to help. Sometimes an objective point of view helps to get across things that you were trying to convey. What you think is a minor job duty, may actually be very helpful to others. Write it all down. You may not use everything, but you won’t leave something out.

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Your Resume Objective

Now, what is your objective? Obviously you want the job! Here’s where the first 5-10 seconds of your 20 seconds is important. Use a few of the key words and describe yourself and how your experience will benefit them in this position. Remember, this should be short and to the point. At this point, you do not need to tell them how wonderful, creative, smart etc. that you are. You only have about 5-10 seconds to show you meet their qualifications. If you get too aggressive here guess where your resume ends up? That’s right, in the waste bin!

You now have your list of job responsibilities and duties. Continue to do this for each of your previous jobs. Always include a job title! If you did not have a specific title, use a generic one. Now it is time to go to the computer. There are lots of software templates you can use and some are on your computer. Open your Word document and click on “New” this opens up your template directory. Here, you can choose different resume formats and cover letters. Choose one and begin the process of building your resume.

  • Do – Proofread and Proofread and Proofread! Everything at least twice. Give it to your spouse, brother, mother – anyone to read. This is the fastest way to not get the job, much less the interview. An interviewer that sees spelling and/or grammar mistakes automatically assumes the applicant is not detailed enough to check the resume and their work habits will not be any better. Big Mistake!
  • Do – Check dates of employment. Very important because a lot of companies will check with previous employers and if you are not close on your dates you will not be considered.
  • Do – Be honest. Honest in your education, your experience, your employment. Eventually it will come out into the open. Usually you sign an employment agreement that they can terminate you instantly if you have falsified any information.
  • Do – Tell your references that you have used them for that purpose. Choose only those that you know will be positive. I have actually had references say awful things about the perspective applicant. This is very embarrassing for both you and the interviewer. For more real life blunders click here.
  • Do Not – Give your age. However, some jobs are required to employ only individuals over a certain age due to state and federal laws, but they will only ask if you meet the minimum age never the exact age. It is against the law for the employer to ask or even require dates on an application that the employer can calculate your age. For example, do not give year of graduating high school, college, enlistment or discharge. These do not have anything to do with the job! Some employers will try to calculate age based on graduation from college so beware! Although age discrimination is against the law – some employers may think you’re too old or too young to fit their needs.
  • Do – Only include recent work history. Many applications of employment only ask for a work history of 7-10 years and most less. If you have been in the workforce since 1965 you may want to only include your last 10-15 years of work experience on your resume. Remember dates can give away your age.
  • Do Not – Include a hobby, unless it is pertinent to the job. I know others say to however, my experience is you want to get your foot in the door with your resume and if you do something outside of work that is disliked or not approved of by the interviewer because of personal reasons, you just lost out and you do not even know why. Remember just like any part of our lives, we all have prejudices.
  • Do Not – Provide references on your resume. Have them available when asked for by the employer. Add a line on your resume at the end that states, “Reference Provided Upon Request.”

Well my friend, this is a lot of information and I could on and on and on well, you get the point.

If you found this helpful or need advice drop me an email and I will personally write back. For more information subscribe now for my monthly newsletter.