Writing a great Resume – part 2

In my previous post, I wrote about the general aspects of writing a resume. In this post, I will talk about how you should go about writing a resume for your specific situation.

What do I want to convey in the resume?

  • Skills: Make a list of the skills that you want your resume to convey. As explained in the previous post, these should be skills that are relevant for the position. Once you have this list, think of examples in your experience that would prove that you indeed have these skills. Creating this inventory of examples is not a quick or an easy task. Plan to spend several days doing this activity.
  • Career progression: You should definitely think about how you want to convey career progression. It is important to come across as being accomplished without sounding arrogant.
  • Summary: If you have a lot of experience it might make sense to have a summary of your experience. This summary should not be more than three bullets and should help the recruiter form a mental image about your experience.
  • Interests: For any position, it is likely that there are multiple candidates who are suitable for the position. To stand out from the rest of the crowd and attract (positive) attention, consider putting some interesting facts about yourself. For example, you could mention your recent attempt to climb Mount Shasta. Be careful with this information though. If you put something controversial in the Interests section, it may backfire.

How should I write my bullets?

By now you should have the content ready. It is now time to put this content into bullets. Here is how you do it:

  • STAR: Try to structure each bullet in the STAR format. What in the world is the STAR format? STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. What was the situation? What was your role or task? What actions did you take? What was the result?
  • Succinct: While you want to provide a complete picture in a bullet, be sure that each bullet is succinct. If a word or a phrase is not adding any value, remove it. If a phrase can be substituted by a single word, do it.
  • One bullet, one message: Each bullet should only have one idea otherwise the message gets diluted.
  • No lingo: I cannot emphasize this enough. The recruiter may be unfamiliar with the jargon used in your previous job, company or career. Please do yourself a favor and make your resume accessible. No one will be impressed by your accomplishments if they cannot even understand what they mean.

How should I format my resume?

  • Good visual layout: How your resume looks does matter. It is easy to find formats that look good without being excessively flashy. Make sure your fonts are readable and familiar (I recommend Times New Roman). The font size should not be too small or too large (I recommend 10 or 11). Bullets and sections should be well aligned and easy to read.
  • One page: Often people claim that they have so much experience that it is impossible to keep the resume to a single page. It may be true in some cases. However, I often see resumes where every single detail or a position that was held 10 years ago is listed. If any detail is not essential for the current position, remove it. If you are sure that your resume cannot be trimmed further without losing effectiveness you may go over a page.

I have done all of the above, am I done?

No. Writing a good resume is an iterative process. Get feedback from friends and family members who are familiar with your background. They may provide suggestions about content and formatting that are valuable. They may also help you uncover uses of jargon or point out situations where something is not clear.

In addition, try to get feedback from someone who works in your target industry. You may find that you can tailor your resume to what is expected in that industry.

Good luck with writing your resume. I will try to post some examples in a future post.