How to Write a Resume to Get that Interview

Writing your resume is like writing an advertisement for yourself. Just like writing any sort of promotional material, you need to capture your reader's interest quickly and make them want to learn more about you. Then you want to tell them, quickly and in an interesting manner, exactly what they want to hear.

What they want to hear is exactly as if you were a product. What are your features and benefits? Why should they hire you rather than someone else? What is unique about you? Keep the resume brief; you don't need to tell everything about yourself, just enough that the employer decides to invite you for an interview.

Resume research

Research jobs in your area of interest thoroughly before beginning to write your resume and make a list of words used in advertisements and job descriptions. Be sure to use these buzzwords, associated with active verbs. Make a list of powerful active verbs before you begin too. Remember, you want to let the employer know that you made things happen. Directed, organized, motivated, managed, increased, earned, negotiated...these are just a few powerful words you might use.

Overall, your resume will be not more than two pages in length, with all the most important information in the top third of the first page. Just like an advertisement, you have 30 seconds to make them want to read more.

Optionally, you may want to write a cover letter (last) that introduces your resume, perhaps mentioning someone who referred you to the application process and why you are interested in this position.

Resume style

You want to include plenty of white space - wide borders, double spacing between paragraphs, and a clear font. Keep as much of the resume as possible in bulleted lists, prose should be kept to a minimum.

Resume content

First place your name, contact information, and the job title you are applying for at the top of the first page. Then add these 6 parts:

Your profile

Make your profile a brief but interesting snapshot of your professional life. You have maybe two short paragraphs to explain in a vibrant way a couple of your most dynamic accomplishments and skills, or what experience you have that shows that you made things happen. Remember the "3Ps" throughout your resume - use professional, punchy, positive language.

Your accomplishments

List your awards, measurable results you personally achieved (numbers of sales, customers, etc.) or organizational goals you reached.

Your work history

Starting with your most recent job, list your employers for the past 10 years, by name and location, your job title, the years you started and finished, and a brief description of your responsibilities. Remembering to include any achievements or accomplishments you haven't already mentioned. Any gaps should be briefly explained.

If you want to include farther back than the last 10 years, just list the employer, location, year and job title. If your work history is slim or has lots of gaps, include part-time or seasonal work as well as volunteer or internship positions.

Your education/qualifications

Keep this very brief, just a list of schools attended, years of attendance, and degrees received. Qualifications can include any relevant training, memberships, licenses, etc.

Your other skills

Think of this as the very fine print. Include any proficiencies or specialized skills you haven't already mentioned. These could be computer skills, foreign languages spoken, physical abilities, depending on the job you are applying for.

Your references

Usually simply stating "references available upon request" is sufficient unless they are specifically asked for in the application.

Do not include personal information about you and/or your family unless this is directly relevant to the job you are applying for. No one reading your resume will want to know about your hobbies, children, pets, etc. unless the job relates to one or more of these things. A job in a pet store, daycare, or craft store might be applicable, for example.

This is just a brief outline of how to write a resume, but it should be enough to get you that interview!

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