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11 Steps to Writing the Perfect Resume

Jun 1, 2016 TopResume

11 Steps to Writing the Perfect Resume

Whether you’re planning to use a resume-writing service or give it a go on your own, it’s important to take some time to prepare for your resume rewrite. Your resume will only be as good as the information you or your writer has work with. Gather the following details ahead of time to craft a powerful document that effectively tells your story and markets your qualifications.

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Contact information.

While this section may seem obvious, there are a few factors to consider. For instance, how will you display your name? Are you planning to use a nickname, such as Bob, or will you use your full name for the job search? Whichever you choose, make sure you consistently represent your name on all your personal branding materials such as your business cards, LinkedIn profile, and online portfolio or blog. Select one email address and one phone number to include on your resume. I recommend setting up an email address that’s dedicated to your job-search activities and using your cell phone number on your resume, as this gives you the ability to control the voicemail message, who answers the phone, and when. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Online presence.

A Jobvite social recruiting survey found that 93 percent of recruiters will search for your online profiles before they decide to interview you. Save them some time by including the URL to your LinkedIn profile. Don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet? Check out this video tutorial by Lindsey Pollak for help creating your profile. In addition to your LinkedIn account, include any links that are relevant to your work, such as a personal website, portfolio, or blog. If your work involves social media, you may include the links to other social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, and so forth. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Sample job descriptions

A great resume is tailored to support a specific job goal. One of the best ways to ensure your resume is properly positioned is to identify sample jobs that you’re interested in and qualified to perform. Search online and gather a few job postings that represent the type of position you’re targeting. It doesn’t matter if the location is ideal; for this purpose, you should only be concerned with the job description and its requirements. Copy and paste the text of the description itself into a Word or Google document and then highlight or bold any requirements or desirable skills from the posting you possess. This will help you or your writer identify which of your qualifications should be showcased throughout the resume. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Technical skills and proficiencies

What technical platforms and tools are you proficient? List all that apply to your work. Be specific and as comprehensive as possible. This list can include anything from social media platforms to project management systems and computer languages. If you’ve worked with proprietary platforms, list those as well. Need to brush up on a skill or tool that’s routinely popping up in the job descriptions you’re targeting? Check out edX, Coursera, and SkillShare for free or low-cost online courses. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Your professional experience.

Start with your most recent job and work your way backwards. You’ll need to detail out all your professional positions within the past 15 years. If you served in the military or held a board position, list this experience as you would any other role in your work history. If you recently graduated from college, include your internships and any work experience that took place since you entered college. For each role, list the following information:
  • Company Name and URL
  • Job Title: If your title is very specific to your organization, you can include a translation of sorts in parentheses next to your official job title.
  • Start and End Dates: Include the month and year for each of these dates.
  • Job Description: Think about your roles and responsibilities as they relate to your target role. This is especially important if you’d like to change careers. Include details such as how many people you managed or supervised, the territories you covered, etc.
  • Achievements: Brainstorm a list your accomplishments and major contributions that benefited the organization during your tenure. The number of achievements you provide will depend upon how long you remained in that role and how relevant it is to your current job goals. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible; for instance, how did you help save the company money, generate revenue, improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity, and so forth?
If you have an existing resume, only include new details in this section. There’s no reason to repeat anything that already appears in your current resume. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Early career history

If you’ve been in the workforce for over 15 years, chances are you have a few positions that got left out of the previous section. Make a list of the job titles you held, the names of each employer, the locations where you worked, and your dates of employment for these roles. While the dates will likely not get used in your resume, it’s good to have a clear record of your earlier experiences for the writer. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Volunteer work

Have you been actively volunteering with a non-profit organization? Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is a great way to fill an employment gap or supplement your work history when you’re trying to change careers.  Please list any volunteer work you’ve done that’s relevant to your current job goals in chronological order, beginning with your most recent work. If you’re new to the workforce, include any campus activities or clubs in which you were active. Record the name of the organization and its website URL, the positions you held, your years of involvement, and your responsibilities and contributions to the non-profit. Looking for new volunteer opportunities? Visit sites such as Catchafireand VolunteerMatch. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Professional affiliations

List any relevant professional organizations or affiliations you’re a member of that aren’t listed on your resume. For each group, please list their name and URL, when you became a member, and any positions you’ve held. If you took an active role in the organization, describe your responsibilities and any notable achievements. Interested in joining a new association? Check out WEDDLE’s Association Directory or research which groups your peers and managers belong to. You can often find this information on their LinkedIn profiles. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Language skills

Language skills can be a great selling point on your resume. If you’re multilingual, be sure to list each language you speak and your proficiency level. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Education and professional development

Create a record of all your education, beginning with your most recent degree. List the institution, its location, the name of your degree, your major and minor, your graduation year, and any honors associated with the degree, such as summa or magna cum laude. Do the same for any relevant certifications you’ve obtained or additional training opportunities or workshops you’ve attended. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Third-party feedback

Have you received positive customer testimonials or a great performance review? Include this information in your preparation materials. You or your resume writer may be able to work some of this information into your resume to demonstrate your hard and soft skills in the workplace. While this may feel like a lot of work now, by taking the time to examine your career now, you'll see the benefits in your future resume. [mks_separator style="solid" height="20"]

Note: this article was originally published on TopResume.

TopResume is a Talent Inc. company, the personal branding destination for all career-driven professionals. Through our extensive network of professional writers, we offer career advice and analyze and write more resumes and LinkedIn profiles than any other service in the world. Ready to get started? Request a free resume critique today.


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