Before you sit down to write your resume , complete a few preparatory steps that can make the writing process easier and lay the groundwork for success. A little research and a page or two of notes will help you tighten your final presentation. Keep these four moves in mind.
1. Divide Your Career Into Distinct Chapters
You may have spent 20 years working for one employer, or you may have worked for three employers during a single year. And during your 20 year tenure with one employer, you may have held one, five, or twenty different jobs. No matter how you choose to subdivide your work history—by job, employer, or field—break down your career into recognizable components.
2. Examine Each Chapter Separately
Take a close look at each of these chapters with a pen in hand. List the major responsibilities that fell to you during each episode. What tasks and timelines were you required to handle? Why were you considered qualified for this job in the first place? What were your biggest daily challenges during this chapter of your career? Which parts of this job did you enjoy the most? Write down answers to each of these questions. Include as much detail in your answers as you can.
3. List Your Accomplishments
During each chapter of your career, you had good days and bad days. For the moment, focus on your best days. What made them such a success? What were you bringing to the company on those days that made your boss proud to have you on her team? Maybe your sales numbers exceeded your established quota, but what else were you doing that marked you as a valuable asset? Were you diplomatic and generous with the credit for your victory? Were you enthusiastic about training and teaching new employees? Did you go the extra mile to make customers feel welcome?
List every one of the traits, skills, talents, and personal habits that made you stand out as an exceptional employee. While you’re at it, include the skills you used each day that made you feel professionally challenged and personally fulfilled.
4. Align Your Past With Your Future
Determine how the answers above line up with the needs of your target employers. To do this, you’ll need to conduct some research on the positions and specific companies you’re pursuing. What kinds of traits and accomplishments do these employers like to see? What are they specifically asking for in their job posts? What kind of workplace culture would you like to step into, and how do your qualifications make you a match for that kind of culture?
Where to Go Next
At this point, you should have a few pages of random notes laid out in front of you and you should be ready to organize these notes into the standard structure of a professionally formatted resume. Visit LiveCareer to determine how your sections and career details should appear in your final document.