Writing a good resume is a lot of work, but if you break down the process in stages, the task will look less insurmountable. The resume tips in this section will help you write a good resume, but before going there, let's get back to the basics.
The Resume and Its Companion, the Cover Letter
What is a resume? At its most basic, a resume is a self-promotional document that makes the case for an interview.
A resume is generally accompanied by a cover letter. Its purpose is to present your background in the most "objective" light possible. Your cover letter is your introduction to the employer and your resume is the document that "supports" that introduction. For instance, your cover letter may state that you have extensive experience in forensic accounting. Your resume is the document that will support that statement with more specifics.
Think Before You Write
The first step in writing a resume is to reflect. Don't rush to your computer yet. Think it through, at a deeper level. These questions will help you get started:
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- How can I best present my strengths?
- What should I emphasize?
- How can I distinguish myself from other applicants?
- How can I convey that I am the best candidate for the job?
- Why am I different?
Everything on Your Resume Should Serve a Purpose
Your resume should be a concise statement of your educational background, qualifications and work experience. It should focus on your strengths and what you can bring to the position. Everything that you write on your resume should serve a purpose. Screen out all the non-essentials. Including irrelevant information on your resume will just weaken its impact and distract the reader.
Choose the Right Resume Format
Make sure you have the right format. Generally, there are 3 resume formats to choose from: the reverse chronological format, the functional format and the hybrid format. Choose the resume format that will present your candidacy in the best light possible.
Present the Information in a Way That Is Compelling
The resume format deals with the structure of your resume. This resume tip deals with how you structure your sentences. Make sure to use action verbs as you describe your work experience. As well, make sure to show your accomplishments and what you contributed to your prior employers.
A resume is a promotional tool, so don't be modest. At the same time, don't lie or exaggerate your skills if you cannot back them up.
Go Through Many Drafts
Once you know what to say, sit down and think of the best way to say it. Don't stop at the first draft, but work through many. When you are done with a first draft, let it rest and come back on it a few hours or a day later. Read it out loud. If possible, ask trusted friends or family members for their feedback. Writing a good resume takes time. It's perfectly normal that you go through many drafts.
More Resume Tips, Getting to the Next Level
These resume tips are just the tip of the iceberg. For more help, browse through our resume section. If you want to see how others have approached their resumes, look at our resume samples.