Writing a resume can be a daunting task, especially if you are not sure exactly what information should be included. In this post I will list out some of the basics that a resume should cover and some tips to help you understand why that information should be included.
Believe it or not, not everyone, learned how to write a resume during school. That's why there is a huge industry of people that you can pay to do it for you. Of course, that means that you have to be okay with spending money on that. Spending $200 is not what most people want to be doing when they're looking for a job. Writing your own resume, though, really isn't that hard. There is some basic information that must be included in the resume and as long as that information is there, you've got a resume. Everything else is extra. So to start out, focus on the basics. This is the information you'd have to give to someone to do it for you anyway.
This should be a given. If you want them to call you back for an interview then you need to provide your contact information. Typically you want to include:
First and Last name (Legal name. If you're going through a name change, explain it after being hired.)
Email Address (an appropriate one not firstname.lastname@example.org, instead use your name)
Phone Number (You could add best contact time if you need them to not call you when your baby is sleeping or something along those lines, that way the recruiter doesn't waste their time but in either case make sure you have a professional or simple voicemail message. If you don't have a phone number, Google Voice is a great option and you can create a voicemail that asks for the caller to leave contact information so you can call back!)
Address (This is more private and some people choose to omit it and I have personally seen a recruiter use people's addresses as a way to discriminate against who to hire. Although, most jobs will require this information at hiring anyway so you still want to have the information handy)
Objective & Summary
This section is becoming more common. It is basically a section where you summarize your intentions for employment. It is becoming more and more important to tailor your resume to the position you want. This makes it hard if you're looking for any kind of job and can't necessarily create a million different resumes but what you can do is use this section to write a general statement that encompasses who you are and the type of worker you will be. Forbes says that "A resumé tells a story, and that story is about you. Anyone should be able to read your resumé and be able to tell who you are, what you do, what you’ve done, where and when you did it and how well you did it." Your objective is a good place to summarize this.
Professional Background Information
This section is essentially just your work history and you want to make sure you have these details:
Job title/positions held (If you were promoted you should showcase the highest position you held but you also want them to see that you grew with the company)
Dates (A simple 2012-14 is best. Putting down exact dates may not look so well if you've held several short term jobs in a short period of time)
Duties (What did you actually do in this job? Administration, Training, Customer Service, Accounting, Sales? Make sure you don't leave stuff out just because it wasn't your main job title. If you did it, you know how to do it again, and that is what a potential employer needs to know.)
Achievements (Did you make a huge sale? Did you create a new initiative or program? Did you get an award? If it is specific to this job, add it.)
Personally, I think, that not all jobs need to be listed on here. If you only worked at a store for a week, it may look worse to put that down as it can look like you are not someone who can stay at a position for long.
Educational Background Information
This section showcases your knowledge outside of work experience. You should note your education background like highschool and college diplomas earned. You should also note any certifications you have earned or specific training you have completed. This is also a good place to showcase any specific technical skills that you have attained like coding or knowledge of Microsoft Office. You can also use this place to list your skills and competencies.
It is important that you are honest with your qualifications because you don't want to be put in a position where you are not qualified but they think you are. Also, a lot of these things can be checked. Although, if you started learning something or have taken it on your own volition to learn a new skill and have become good at it, you can jot down that you have experience with it. Just don't call yourself an expert!
Not all resumes will have these sections, mainly because, not everyone has these experiences and so they are extra and can set you apart from other candidates. This section can include these things:
Hobbies (Do you like playing basketball? Maybe you'll be fit in well with the company team)
Awards (Have you received work or educational awards, tell the world about it!)
Volunteer History (Do you volunteer at dog shelters? This can show the type of personality and character that you have. It may not be a good idea to share any court ordered "volunteer" activities though.)
Interests (Do you like to do crafts? Maybe you can be an asset with your creativity?)
Be careful not to overdo this section because not all hobbies are appropriate and not all interests are as interesting to others. You can always share your more eclectic interests once you are hired.
Choose a professional design but make it unique to you. You want to make sure that you organize your sections so that they are easily identified. Avoid big huge blocks of writing because honesty, recruiters will just throw your resume away if they can't easily go over it. Choose a font that is easily understood and isn't too small or too big. Forbes recommends that you focus on these four characteristics when creating your resume:
You want to use a different size for the titles of your sections and your name or use boldface type in order to separate the title from the information and you can also use outlines and dots to separate lists. Depending on the job you are applying for, you may even be able to add color, but it's best and safest to go with crisp and clean white and black. Princeton University recommends using action-oriented language, emphasizing transferable skills, and showcasing strengths by prioritizing relevant information so once you have your base information down, work on the language that you use to present it and the style of the overall resume.
Check out this resources that help you build your resume online. I hope this give you a basic outline to follow in order to create your own resume. In my next post, I will talk about whether or not it is okay to lie on your resume, so stay tuned, and leave your opinion in the comments below:) and good luck job hunting!