Top Questions to Ask When Writing Your Resume

by Leslie Toth, MBA, CPRW, PHR, SHRM-CP

Resume Questions

Are you in the middle of writing your resume but are having a difficult time deciding what information to include? Everyone knows that your resume has to be top notch. Not only does it need to make a dynamic first impression, it must distinguish you from the crowd and present your skills and experience in such a way that you are viewed as the ideal candidate for the position. At times it is difficult to determine which skills to include as well as which accomplishments within your history to note.

If you're feeling stuck, it is a good idea to ask yourself some questions to get started:

  1. Why am I applying for this job?

    What interests you about this position? Look at what you want from the company aside from money. Are you looking to improve your skills? A position where you can grow within the company? Make reference to these items as you write your resume.

  2. Which of my past accomplishments match the company's expectations?

    Take a close look at your past accomplishments and skills and match them with what the company is looking for. Don’t just list skills they say they want, take a hard look at the job posting and how they hope the position can help the company as a whole. Think about what you have accomplished in past positions and how these can help you meet the company's expectations.

  3. How am I distinguishing myself from the competition?

    One way to separate yourself from the pack is to include a Professional Development section on your resume, under the education section. This Professional Development section should include all classes and online trainings you have taken. You will also want to include any professional certifications you have received. This particular heading will draw positive attention, as professional development suggests a desire for lifelong learning – something employers like. This shows you are keeping current with industry and job knowledge.

  4. What do I want to contribute to the company and position?

    Consider what you can contribute to the company if you get this position. How can you exceed expectations? This one may take a bit of research to find out how the company wants to excel in its field, and how your position can help them get there.

  5. Am I the best fit for this position?

    It's important to know if you honestly believe you are the best fit for the position. If you write your resume with an attitude that you are not a winner, it could be difficult for you to include all of the great reasons why you should be hired. It's always a good idea to really explore the reasons you are applying for the job as you write your resume. This way, it is easier to answer the questions that hiring managers are likely asking while they are reading your resume.

  6. Does my resume have the visual appeal needed to make a positive impact?

    Resume reviewers spend 30-45 seconds determining whether they will read through your entire resume. It is your job to ensure your resume makes the most impact in the least amount of time. When reading a resume, they generally read from top to bottom and left to right. To you, the writer, that means, you must place the strongest accomplishments and skills at the top and to the left in the document. Whether you have skills listed in bullet format or columns, be sure to order the skills and examples to match the qualifications of the position.

    You will also want to make sure your document is visually appealing. Use a font that is easy to read and allow some white space and bullets to highlight critical skills and accomplishments. Write a strong opening paragraph to grab the reader's attention right away. Use examples from your background to write your value proposition statement.

    Have a friend review your resume to ensure it passes the "30-second test." Ask them to review it for 30 seconds. Then ask them "what do you remember from my resume?" Their response will bring you real-world feedback on how well your points are getting across to the reader.

By including marketable skills, customizing your resume for each position you are applying for, writing a strong value proposition to demonstrate the added value you bring to the position, and ensuring your document is visually appealing, you will give employers what they want in a candidate. Your resume represents not only an overview of your qualifications and experience but should also reflect key aspects of your personality that will help you stand out from other applicants. This extra effort will go a long way in presenting you as a top candidate.

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