4 Things to Consider before Writing Your Resume

You’ve started the job hunt. You sit down at your computer and pull up a new document in Word. You rest your hands tensely on the keyboard and stare at the white screen. You’re about to beast this resume.

Then something happens. You realize you have no idea where to start. Maybe you already have an old resume that you can pull from, but even then, what do you use and what do you throw out? How should you format it? What kinds of experiences should you include?

I’m not going to answer all these questions today, but I do want to give you 4 key things to consider before starting your resume:

1. Think about what makes you different. No one else has experienced what you’ve experienced. No one else has worked the jobs you’ve worked. No one has the exact skills you have. Spend some time brainstorming exactly what makes you stand out. Write some of these things down and try especially to think about specific, quantifiable achievements.

2. Think about the specific job you’re applying to. This may be a new idea for you, but you should be creating a new resume for every individual job you apply to. Now, this may be simply tweaking your boilerplate resume, but either way, the principle applies. Read and reread the job description. Research the company online. List out key words and phrases from both and keep them in mind as you begin writing your resume. Better yet, go ahead and begin connecting and drawing lines between your unique experiences and skillsets and the job you’re applying to.

3. Think about the person who will be reading your resume. You know that someone will actually be reading your resume, right? Whether it’s a person or a computer or both, you should spend some time thinking about your audience and what will connect with them. Do a little digging on the organization website and see if you can figure out the person who will likely be looking at resumes. Think about the kind of format or content they might appreciate. Most of this info will, of course, come from the job description, but it’s always helpful to humanize your audience. You’re not writing your resume for yourself; you’re writing it for someone else who can give you a job. Think about that person! 

4. Think about your resume as a storytelling document. This may be the most important of the 4 points. No one likes just looking at a jumble of words on a page. Your resume should tell a story. Think about your career progression and the story it tells. If you need to, make a storyboard that shows each step of your career. Then think about how you can take advantage of your Career Summary, your Experience section, and your Skills section to tell that story. Stories stick with people, and if your resume tells a compelling story, you have a better chance of your story continuing at the company you want.

There you go. All 4 of these things will maybe take you 1-2 hours combined, but trust me, once you start putting your resume together, it will go much more quickly and smoothly. Your resume is your first impression, so spend some time so that you can get the job you want. Better yet, let us help you think through these things and create the perfect resume for you!