Resume Writing 101

resume writing

The beginning of the year is a great time to clean out your closets, organize your kitchen clutter – and freshen up your resume.   Whether you are looking for a job, happy in an existing job, or dreaming of a new career, keeping your resume current and up to date is a smart thing to do. Sea Coast Staffing might call you about an opportunity tomorrow that could be a great next step for you and you want to have a sharp resume ready to go. Being in the right place at the right time (and/or having your resume in the right place at the right time) is essential.

Your resume is your calling card to potential employers. Its purpose is to summarize your education and experience for a potential employer in a way that shows you are a good candidate for the job. With today’s technology, your resume may be reviewed by a search engine that will scan it for keywords, or it may make its way to a hiring manager (typical first-time review is approximately 25 seconds). The goal of a resume is to screen you IN, not screen you OUT. Here are a few tips to help you create a clear and compelling resume:

Standard sections for a resume include:

  • Contact Information
  • Work Experience. List past and present experiences in reverse chronological order. Present experience is usually listed first, using present tense verbs; then all other experience is listed in reverse chronological order using past tense verbs.
  • Education. Include before work experience if you are a recent graduate; otherwise include after. Include degree type, degree year, name of school and location.

Depending on your experience, you may also want to the following sections:

  • Objective OR Career Summary. Only include an objective if it is very specific to the job for which you are applying. A career summary provides the employer with a brief overview of who you are and what you do.
  • Other Experience. This is an opportunity to describe community service or other extracurricular experience that might be relevant to the job. Choose activities based on what might be of interest to your potential employer, e.g., leadership positions and/or industry associations. Be selective (no one cares that you were social chairman of your sorority 10 years ago. Trust me. Okay, so it was 30 years ago, but who’s counting?)
  • Skills or Skills Summary. List any technical (including computer!) skills you may have that could be relevant to the job and any foreign languages that you know and your level of proficiency (Intermediate, Advanced, Fluent).
  • Honors and Awards. This section highlights areas where you have been recognized as exceptional in an area relevant to your job.

Do your homework and tailor your resume to include keywords from the job description(s) to which you are applying. Include specific skills or tasks that the job requires.

Choose an easy to read font and be concise – remember to hit the high points of each position rather than every duty you had, and use succinct phrases rather than full sentences.

Spending a few extra minutes on your resume can make the different between getting to the next level in the process or being tossed in the wastebasket. That kitchen clutter can wait a few more weeks….