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Resume Writing Basics

Your resume is most likely the first opportunity you will have to introduce yourself to a potential employer. It has the power to open doors for you or slam them soundly depending on how well it is written. If you find yourself applying for multiple jobs with no invitations for interviews, you should take a long and critical look at your resume and how you have been using it. Have you revised it recently? Have you used the same resume to apply to different jobs? Does it contain dated language, errors, or lack a clear connection to the job for which you are applying? If so, it is time to revise your resume. There are several things you can do to spruce up your resume and get it ready for your job search:

  1. Review every detail on the resume for the tiniest flaw.

  2. Check with your former employers to ensure they are still in business and that their contact information is up-to-date. Are your former supervisors still employed there? If not, try to get their current contact information as well. Consider including email addresses in addition to phone numbers to allow employers more flexibility to contact your references. This can also save time by eliminating phone tag.

  3. Ensure that punctuation is correct and consistent throughout.

  4. Use strong, active language. When describing previous positions and job responsibilities, use simple past tense with strong action verbs. Supervised, organized, managed, operated, guided, and analyzed are examples of strong action verbs. This will give your phrases and sentences more punch. Consider these examples:

  5. List your current qualifications and job skills, but don’t stop there. As you think about your experiences in each position, take time to recall specific aspects of your job that will appeal to prospective employers that also go above and beyond the skills typically associated with those jobs. For example, if you were a grocery clerk, using a cash register, maintaining inventory, and making cash transactions were most likely the types of tasks you performed each day. However, you probably also had experiences that would be appreciated that may not be noticed if you did not point them out on your resume. Dealing with irate customers, settling disagreements over prices or returns of defective merchandise, and helping calm a lost child while a parent is located in the store are just a few examples of additional tasks that illustrate important skills.

  6. You should not include personal information in your resume unless it is relevant to your job. For example, if you are a member of an organization that raises funds for animal welfare, and you are applying for a veterinary technician position, you should include this information on your resume. However, if you sing in your church’s choir, this information would not be relevant to your prospective job responsibilities.

  7. Once your resume is polished to perfection, prepare to modify it for each job you plan to seek. Taking one advertisement at a time, carefully read each one while making note of the specific keywords included in the copy. Take note of the specific skills and qualifications that are required. Wherever you can accurately and ethically do so, replace some of your words with the keywords from the job advertisement.

  8. Finally, pay attention to the overall format of your resume. Choose a style that seems consistent with the job for which you are applying. If the job is creative, for example, you may catch your potential employer’s eye by using color, fonts, and images in novel, but professional, ways. However, if you are applying to a law form, a traditional, conservative-looking resume would be more appropriate.

Remember that your resume will be your first opportunity to sell yourself as an applicant to potential employers. It should accurately present your skills, credentials, and experience in a way that directly demonstrates a relationship to the keywords your employer uses to describe the position. Create a new version of your resume for each position to which you apply. Take your time, research your company, and have a critical friend review your work. Take their comments and recommendations seriously, and use them to improve your presentation.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Corlia Logsdon. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Corlia Logsdon. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Corlia Logsdon for details.

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