Three Steps to Writing Your Own
by Linda Matias
While most professionals hire a professional resume writer, some draft their
own resume. People who write a lot for business usually have more success in
putting together a sharp, focused presentation; still, anyone can learn the
basic steps to prepare his or her own resume.
There are three major differences between a "strong" resume and an "o.k."
1. Format and Presentation Determine Whether the Resume Is Read
The average resume is scanned, not read, for only 8-15 seconds. It either
creates a strong impression to the reader immediately or it is set aside. It is
similar to the impression you make on the interviewer. Therefore, make sure your
resume is wearing the equivalent of a "business suit" and not jeans and
Choose a format that complements your career goal. If you are seeking a job
in your field and have experience, use a chronological resume. This resume
starts with your most recent job and works backward. Conversely, if you are
seeking a new type of work, you may want to consider the functional/combination
resume. This style groups your skills together and includes a short
chronological work history at the end.
Other ways to insure that your presentation gets noticed include:
- No errors: use spell check and also have someone review your resume for
missing or misused words
- Use a Consistent format and use of capitalization and punctuation
- Provide lots of white space to accent strong parts of the resume
- Use no more than 2 fonts
- Include your name and address, a phone and email address
- Laser print your work on quality white or cream resume paper
2. Accomplishments Tell What You've Done; Responsibilities State What You
Were Supposed to Have Done
Not all accomplishments have to be big, but they have to show that you got
results as you carried out your responsibilities. Often, they are something you
are proud of or, they can simply quantify what you have done on a daily basis.
Many of your routine activities can be quantified and written as accomplishments
that demonstrate your experience and knowledge, and proof of how you’ve HELPED
Here are some things to consider when naming accomplishments. Quantify
whenever possible. For instance, did you:
…save the company money? How much and how?
…help improve sales? By how much?
…improve productivity and efficiency?
…implement any new systems or processes?
…help launch any new products or services?
…achieve more with (same or fewer) resources?
…resolve a major problem with little investment?
…participate in any technical/operational improvements?
…exceed accepted standards for quality or quantity?
…identify the need for a program or service?
…prepare any original reports, studies or documents?
…serve on any committees? What was the outcome?
…get elected to any boards, teams or task forces?
…resolve customer problems?
…get rated as outstanding in performance reviews?
3. Avoid Common Errors in Resume Writing
Many job seekers either don't know or don't understand the many items that
do not belong in a resume. They include the following:
- Do not use "I", "me" or "my" statements; use the telegraphic method and
drop the pronoun to make it more active. Instead of "I wrote the 40-page
employee manual", say "Wrote 40-page employee manual"
- Avoid the use of the words "responsible for" and "duties included"
- Do not include personal information, such as age, health, ethnicity,
marriage and family status. Employers will throw your resume out if it has
such information because they could someday be accused of hiring bias
- Do not include photographs unless you are a model or actor
- Do not explain your reasons for leaving your previous jobs or employment
- Don't send extra papers such as letters of recommendation, certificates or
samples of your work. They clutter your presentation and are too premature.
Use in the interview if appropriate
- Never include salary information
- Do not forward a list of references
Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The
National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street
Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. Visit her website
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.