SECTION F: Writing Your Résumé

Now that you have amassed your wealth of information about your strengths and selling points by completing your worksheets, where do you go next?

Initially you will review your worksheets to make certain you have made the most effective use of your keywords and buzzwords.

The next step is minor compared to the tremendous amount of energy you have already expended. You will find an appropriate format and create a document using word processing software.

You can find samples of completed résumés in any of the FCPL books listed in Section K of this course; you can find online e-résumé sites with samples geared to your field or general samples; you can rely on help from sources such as mwejobs.com or through the FCWS.  Whatever layout you like, you can begin molding your information into a presentation that you think will be powerful and effective.


Regardless of what you choose, bear in mind the following rules:

  1. Machines scan many résumés before a human eye gets to the “part two” portion of the review. It is critical that your buzzwords/keywords be prominent at the beginning of your résumé so you don’t get shredded before you get out of the gate.

 

  1. Even when a human gets to your résumé, the chances are enormous that only the top third of your page will get read in the first pass.  This is why, regardless of the format you choose, chronological; functional; or mixed; you will ALWAYS BEGIN WITH A QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY!

A Qualifications Summary is a three- to six-sentence summary of what you want highlighted for the job you are going after.  In your second set of worksheets you put together at least three sentences about each job you held.  Having those on hand makes it easy to switch up your emphasis, particularly if you possess skills that cross barriers or if you have had several careers

Example:

If you have, in your working career, been a professional editor, a university lecturer, a professional researcher and a reference librarian (note the overlap in many skill sets here) you may have an initial QS that reads like this in your generic résumé…

“Over 17 years in professional editing, 11 years as university faculty, 2 years in an academic library and 12 years in a public library.  Trained and supervised up to 20 staff”

Now, let’s say the job advertisement you are choosing to respond to is for:  Public Librarian Adult Reference; MLS required.  Prefer teaching/training experience

That would lead you to revamp you QS something like:

“MLS librarian from an American Library Association Accredited university; 12 years as public service reference staff; 2 years in academic library cataloging.  University lecturer for Eastern New Mexico University for 11 years …”

See how much play you have from your original worksheets?  You can buzzword, reshape, keyword and reformat to your heart’s content. 

This material must always be the top third of your information after your contact information.

Next, you will need to choose between chronological versus functional formatting. Most employers prefer chronological; today’s technology almost demands it. Online résumés/applications are nearly always chronological.

Chronological

This format is the most frequently used and simplest to prepare.

Start with your most recent experience and then move backward to create a highlighted list of your accomplishments.  NO more than 15 years unless you want to draw on a job skill set older than 15 years, in which case you would want to seriously examine a Functional format if that is available to you. If you can’t use a functional option, make your QS section shine.

Traditionally Chronological Choices

  • Strong Career Progression / Past 5 years seeking position similar to current or recent position 
  • Name Dropping / Impressive employers (large, strong name recognition)
  • Management Position
  • Executive Position
  • Recruiter-Assisted Position Search
  • International Position
  • Law/ Accounting,/Government Position
  • Reentering Workforce in Same Career
  • Changing Fields  (Same skill set, New profession)
  • Military to Civilian / Same Job Position
  • New Graduate with Degree in Field

Functional

You choose the order of presented information (Résumé Sample 1) and how much information to provide.  You have freedom to make use of buzzwords, positioning on page, and translation of how your skills transcend barriers (e.g. volunteer work, length of time in field, gaps in your work history).

Traditionally Chronological Choices When Permitted

  • Reentering Workforce / New Career
  • Military to Civilian / New Career
  • Volunteer Translation of Duties and Skills / Make Your Unpaid Hours Count
  • New Graduate / Position not in Degree Field
  • Skill Sets Applicable to Many Fields
  • Prefer Focus off “Work History” / Frequent job moves; Gaps; Relocations
  • Looking to Voluntarily “Demote” Yourself / Position of Less Responsibility
  • “Too Many Hours in the Field” / Prefer to Avoid Age Discrimination

If you do not want to bump yourself out of the running by saying “35 years in the accounting field” and imply that you are 55 years old, let your QS draw your strengths in a limited fashion.

QS Example:

“Over 11 years of governmental accounting specializing in audits; 7 years of teaching accounting at community college.”

You did not tell them that you did these jobs sequentially; they might have been simultaneous because you did not provide dates. Manipulate the language to your advantage while highlighting your strengths.

How long is your résumé?

Preferred length: one page, especially if you’re summarizing 10 years’ experience or less. 

Don’t leave out anything important or strip out all the detail to make it one page.  Remember you have the second side of your sheet. If need your second page to give the complete picture, take it, but fill it up!

If you have the luxury of a cover letter (a practice that is fading fast) use it. The Frederick County Workforce Services teaches excellent workshops on cover letter preparation.  

Most important part: top 10-20 lines after contact information.

  • The employer wants to know: What’s in it for him? Your résumé must answer that question well enough to make him want to call you for an interview!
  • Use the employer’s job title, wording and order. Assume the first thing listed is the most important. 
  • Use keywords. Your reader is looking for them, in the same format in which they appear in the job listing.  If the ad says, “lead,” do not use “leadership.” The closer the match, the better. This goes double for online job searches. Remember you have to make it past the robot-scan-eyes first.
  • Support your claims with facts and results. Use numbers wherever you can. This makes you a more concrete producer in the employer’s mind. “Saved 3% in overhead costs”. “My team took in $20,000 over estimated sales for quarter.”  You can ballpark figures, but don’t exaggerate deliberately.
  • Accomplishments are more important than daily duties.  Your accomplishments listed are on your second set of worksheets.
  • Be sure to use current terminology and correct spelling for your target industry (“personnel” is an old term; “human resources” is current.). 

Note on software: Create a word document (Word 2003) version of your résumé.  Why 2003?  Because if you have Word 2007 or later and your potential employer has 2003, he will not be able to open your document!  This is true for every electronic submission you create.  A newer version of a software package can usually read a file created with an older version of the software, but an older version of the software may not be able to read a newer file format. You can use Word 2007 to create a file that can be read by older versions of Microsoft Word – select “Word 97-2003 Document” for the file format when you’re saving a document.

Files

Sample chronological résumé - .pdf file
Sample functional résumé - .pdf file

Exercise: Write your résumé 

There is no worksheet for this assignment – choose a format and build your résumé