Sunday, October 23, 2011

3 Steps to Resume Writing

Why would a company want to hire you? 

Taking a look at hiring from an employers perspective is the first step in preparing your resume and launching your job search.  When possible, companies will always hire people who have the skills needed to do a particular job and the attributes that will make them good employees who will contribute to the mission and goals of the organization.  One book in particular that is helpful when job searching is "From Hello to Hired".  

To show you have those skills and attributes, you will need a resume that reflects this. If you have a great resume, the employer will be motivated to call you for an interview to better determine whether you are a good fit for their needs.  Your resume must clearly relate your education activities, and work experience to specific job qualification.  You will need both the “hard” and “soft” skills will paint the picture of what you want to be: the ideal candidate.

There are three steps that will help you paint yourself into that ideal candidate.

Step 1: Identify the type of job you want and Write Statements to Reflect Your Job Target.

Before you can create a resume that is effective, one that presents the skills, abilities, and knowledge and one that will interest potential employers- you must know what type of job your want.

To focus on what type of jobs that you would like to apply for, create a document called “My Job Targets.” Write the specific jobs that you are interested in.  You might be definite about one particular goal or you might want to list three or four jobs that use similar skills for example:

1.)    A financial analyst position with a large corporation, ideally involved in investing investment proceeds and speaking with clients.
2.)    Marketing-communications positions with a primary focus on marketing for investment products.
3.)    Bookkeeping though a well recognized freelance website.

Do not confuse an industry with a job-target.  For example “advertising” is an industry.  “Financial Analyst” is a profession.  Neither is a specific job target.  Do some research to find out what jobs are available in your chosen industry or profession and work to refine these targets into something that is more specific, such as “Financial Analyst in an investment company” or “Entry level writer for a well-recognized website”

The skills, accomplishments, and knowledge approach that I mention below, will result in a versatile resume that you can use when applying for a variety of jobs that are similar in nature.  This process will allow you to steer toward a slightly different target with ease.

However, if you’re interested in several jobs that are diverse- say you have a double major in Business and  Accounting and your are town between a job in Sales and Auditing- you will want to develop two different resumes so that you are a credible candidate for each position.  Start by choosing one target and completing your resume, then repeat the process for the second target.  The second time that you develop your resume, it will be much quicker and easier.  You will also be able to use much of the same information.  The end result will be that you have a focused and effective resume for each target. 

Step 2: Identify Essential Job Qualifications
The next step in the resume writing process is to identify the essential qualifications for your specific job target.  This includes a combination of “hard” and “soft” skills that made up the ideal candidate.

What is the difference between Hard and Soft Skills?
Hard skills are the core knowledge and abilities needed to do the job.  A Java programmer must know how to program using Java.  A teacher must be able to have a social aptitude to work with children, counsel children, organize lessons, and correct homework.  Hard skills are the kind of things that can be proven through education and experience- you can do the job because you’ve been trained in the discipline or you have worked in a similar job. Soft skills describe personal attributes-how you get things done.  Soft skills are more difficult to measure and quantify.  They include things such as the ability to work in a team setting, ability to be a leader, ability to maintain a positive or the ability to pay attention to detail.  To be believable, your resume must prove both your your soft and hard skills.

Step 3: Assembling Evidence of your Skills

Now that you have clarified your job target and defined the hard and soft skills, you will need your resume to prove that you have those skills.  In this step you’ll dig though you’re experiences to see how they will fit into your resume.  The lists that you made in Steps 1 and 2 are the raw materials that you’ll mold into a polished resume.

Putting together the evidence, or information that shows you have what it takes to be successful for the jobs you are seeking, is the longest process.  Having good records including dates for employment history, degrees received, and certificates earned is helpful in compiling your resume. Before you start to write, think about the sources you might consider in searching for this evidence.  Below is a list of sources that you will want to analyze when drafting your resume.

Major Studies
Areas of Concentration

Honors and Awards

Other honors and Awards
Peer recognition

Extracurricular Activities
Professional Clubs and Organizaitons

Internship or co-op experience

Professional experience
Part-time employment
Temporary Employment

Volunteer activities
Charity or non-profit groups
Religious affiliations


Special Skills and Interests

A resume is a working document meaning that it is dynamic in nature.  It is a document you will need to refer back to often and will need to edit and re-edit.  Starting with a solid resume is the key to maintaining a great resume for years to come though the different chapters of one’s life.