Question: “How do I go about writing my job-search resume?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
The most important aspect of resume-writing is focus. Resumes are one of the most important marketing tools a job-seeker has in convincing a prospective employer to grant a job interview. Resumes must be focused on your key accomplishments, education/training, and skills and abilities in relation to the specific type of job you seek.
So, your first step is brainstorming about your key accomplishments and successes from all your past experiences, including educational experiences and volunteer experiences. Most experienced job-seekers continuing along in your career path will focus on your previous work experience, but recent college grads or job-seekers making a major change in career paths may need to include other experiences. Whenever possible, try to quantify your accomplishments (such as, “increased territory sales by 30 percent, including upselling current clients while also gaining additional new clients.”) See our article, For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.
If you have a varied job history and/or are changing careers, you’ll also want to identify your critical transferable skills. Transferable skills are those skills that you have mastered in one career field that can also be applied in other career fields, such as communications, leadership, and research and planning. See our article, Strategic Portrayal of Transferable Job Skills is a Vital Job-Search Technique.
The next step is deciding whether you are going to use a job objective, professional profile, or a branding statement. A job objective tells the employer what type of employment you are seeking; however, most job objectives are fairly lame — and they have fallen out of favor. If you decide to use a job objective, be sure the focus is how you will contribute to the employer. Professional profiles are the trendiest element to add to your resume. Think of this section as the executive summary of your resume; it should include 3-5 bullet points that summarize why you are an ideal candidate for the type of job you are seeking. A major function of the profile section is to front-load your resume with job- and industry-specific keywords. Finally, a branding statement tells the employer in a headline format just who you are as a job-seeker and potential employee. Read more in our article, Your Job-Search Resume Needs a Focal Point: How Job-Seekers Can Add Focus to Resumes.
The final step is determining the type of resume style you need. Most employers and recruiters strongly prefer the traditional chronological resume style. In this type of resume, job-seekers list their work history in reverse chronological order (starting with your most recent job). For job-seekers changing careers or with a checkered job history, some form of functional or chrono-functional resume format may be the best format. Functional resumes are built around your three or four key functional skills (transferable skills) areas. Once you’ve determined the resume style, simply plug in the key information in each category.
In my experience, job-seekers should really have multiple versions of resumes, and I address this issue more in Career Doctor Question 9: Resume Versions.
One final piece of advice to job-seekers about resume writing: while your resume is a key marketing document that should help sell you to employers, never lie or include any less than truthful information on your resume.
Here are some expert (and free) resources that can help you with writing your resume:
- Fundamentals of a Good Resume
- Resume Tutorial
- Branding Your Resume: Tips for Job-Seekers
- Resume Do’s and Don’ts
- Avoid These 10 Resume Mistakes
- Resume Critique Worksheet
- Sample Job-Seeker Resumes for Job-Seekers in Various Professions
- Ten Easy Ways to Improve Your Resume
- What Resume Format is Best for You?
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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