Introduction: How to Build a Résumé
The purpose of a résumé is to provide a summary of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments to potential employers. Essentially, it is an advertisement of who you are and how you could be an asset to the organization. It is important that your résumé follows an easy-to-read format and portrays you as one-of-a-kind. This instruction set will help you build an effective résumé.
Step 1: Find the Job
This step may seem obvious, but it is extremely important that you find the job you are applying for before starting your résumé. Why? Because when you know what the job is all about you can tailor your résumé to target that specific job.
Start by using a job search engine such as Indeed (Indeed.com) or SimplyHired (SimplyHired.com). Enter information such as a job title, your skills and knowledge, the salary or pay you want, and your zip code (if location is a deciding factor.)
Step 2: Use Keywords
Once some job opportunities come up from your search there will be keywords under each job description. Take note of the keywords that apply to your experience and skill set. Examples of such could be software you are familiar with, your ability to resolve conflict, or your previous title of Chief Financial Officer. When writing your résumé keep these things in mind and work them in when possible.
Step 3: Choose a Résumé Format
A résumé format is how the information on your résumé is organized. While there are three options as to how you can format your résumé, we will be focusing on the chronological format, as it is most desired by employers. The chronological format has you list your experience and education in reverse chronological order. So the first thing that should be listed is your most recent job. The last thing listed would probably be your high school diploma.
Step 4: Create a Heading
Your résumé heading consists of your name and contact information.
(TIP: While the Heading does go at the top of the page, it is not to be typed in the Header of Microsoft Word.)
Things to include in the Heading are your
- Phone number (specify if this is your home phone, cell phone, etc.)
- E-mail address
Step 5: Identify Your Objective
The objective portion of a résumé is to explain to employers what you want in a job and show that you are familiar with the field of work. By starting your résumé with an objective you immediately show the employer what position you are interested in, the level of responsibility you want, and a frame of reference to the information that will follow on your résumé. Your objective should be very brief and simply highlight what you wish to obtain.
Step 6: Summarize Your Qualifications
In your Summary section, you can write about your experience, credentials, expertise, personal values, work ethic, background, or anything that qualifies you for the job you're going for. Entice the reader to finish reading the résumé. Remember that any claims you make must be supported in the body of your résumé.
(IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: This summary is to explain why you are qualified to this particular job, not to summarize the highlights of your previous occupation. Think future, not past.)
Step 7: State Your Work Experience
In the chronological format, your work experience will be typed in the body of the résumé where you will later write your achievement statements in bullet points. under each job title to explain what tasks you were required to complete, the responsibility you held, and how this has shaped the employee you have become.
Step 8: Write Achievement Statements
Under each job title explain what tasks you were required to complete, the responsibility you held, and how this has shaped the employee you have become. The focus of the achievement statements is to highlight what you bring to the table, how you were an asset at your last job and how you could be an asset to this organization as well.
Step 9: List Education
The Education section is usually placed at or near the end of the resume.
Do's & Don'ts: List only the school that granted your degree. Dates are optional. You can spell out the degree or use the representative letters. (Bachelor of Science= B.S.)
If you went to college but do not intend to get your degree in the immediate future just write the name of the college and your area of study.
If you are currently in a relevant educational or training program but have not yet finished list the program and name of the school you are attending, followed by the date you intend to finish, or a phrase such as "currently enrolled," or "anticipated completion."
Step 10: Creating More Sections
Things like your volunteer work, groups you belong to, skill sets not mentioned yet, papers and presentations, awards, publications, etc. can assist in an effective résumé.
You may need to create one or more sections in addition to the ones you've already put on your résumé. Here are some possible headings:
Dates are optional, but, again, should be listed in reverse chronological order. If you choose not to use dates, list the services in order of the impact they had on you.
Associations that you belong to can be listed either alphabetically, in order of relevance to your profession , or chronologically. If you held or hold an office, that should be noted.
Articles, books, chapters, and research papers that you have authored or co-authored belong under this heading. Dates are expected but not required for this list. If you do choose to include dates, your publications should be listed in reverse chronology.
Having awards on your resume can really help you stand out and give you an edge in your interviews.
(TIP: Differentiate between personal and professional awards.)