Writing a resume can be intimidating. But like any other big, important task, breaking it into smaller steps makes it go easier. By dividing the job into easily understood portions, the finished product is far more likely to come out well. Start the resume crafting process by gathering all the necessary elements before you even begin to write. Here are the key pieces you need to assemble before you start writing your resume.
Details About Your Accomplishments
This is perhaps the most important element in your resume preparation. Accomplishments are what separate you from all the thousands of other people with similar experience. More than anything, employers want to see what makes you unique – what you bring to your work. Accomplishments are the tangible evidence of your brilliance, your creativity, your initiative. So think long and hard about what you’ve done. You should begin with this step because you want to be brainstorming about the details of this key component for as long as possible. Think back on your accomplishments. Write down as many as you can think of. Then step away to gather the other things. Your unconscious mind will continue to chip away at the question, and doing the other tasks will further jog your memory.
Company Names, Job Titles, and Dates
Next, take a break by diving into the relatively easy stuff. This will get you warmed up for the more creative aspects of writing a resume. Gather any pertinent dates, job titles, and names of companies and divisions. Get these details exactly right at this point, so you don’t have to go back and futz around with double-checking them later.
Your Previous and Current Job Descriptions
Get a good solid job description for all relevant positions. If you have a copy of your company’s official job description for your position that’s great. But keep in mind that most such Official versions are professionally written in company jargon, and tend to detail every single nuance of the position – you’ll probably have to edit it aggressively later. For now, however, these can be a good place to start. If you don’t have an official job description, now is the time to create your own. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, trying to organize it too much at this early stage of the process can stifle your memory. Just brainstorm – toss onto the page anything that comes to mind about your responsibilities.
Job Postings for Positions Similar to Ones You’ve Had in the Past
Look for job postings that are as close as possible to positions you’ve had in the past. This can give you extra insight as to what you should emphasize about your past. More importantly, this is a terrific step to bolster your job-responsibility entries for jobs where you don’t already have them listed out. You might be surprised at how much you’ve forgotten about a job until you see an ad that describes the details of the position.
Job Postings for Positions You Want to Pursue
This is a key step in preparing to write a resume. By looking at postings for jobs that you want to pursue, you see exactly what employers are seeking. At the same time, you can get big, important clues as to what’s most important to such companies. Granted, not every position is conveniently listed on job boards or in want ads. And you may not find anything for the exact job at the exact company you’re hoping to get into. But try to find ones that are as close as possible to the positions you aspire to. Aim to gather at least two for each position. More is better, but beyond a half-dozen or so gets unwieldy.
These listings will serve as an important ongoing reference for your resume, so save them in a format you can quickly refer back to. Ideally, you should copy and paste the text into a word-processor document. If not that, print them out. Whatever method you save these postings with, don’t depend on bookmarking them in your Internet browser – job listings don’t stay online for long.