The Seven Steps Revisited
You should look forward to the opportunity to identify and then describe your most significant achievements. It can be an empowering experience if you think about it: You get to write a true story of yourself as a qualified, achievement-oriented person. Don't let yourself be intimidated by thoughts of what people expect to see or how they will judge you. Your job is simply to present yourself as effectively as you can.
At this point, you should be grounded in the fundamentals of resume writing for success. You should understand the importance of stating your goals, supporting them with a qualification summary, and then spelling out your significant job experience. This chapter is designed to take that confidence and apply it, with the concrete goal of creating or updating a useful resume in the shortest possible time frame.
Maybe the sample resumes in this book have already motivated you to revise your existing resume or draft a new one. In that case, you will be ready to put the finishing touches on your work. Later discussions on critiquing your first draft and preparing your resume for distribution will come in handy.
Assumptions and negativity aside, great resumes can be created in a day. In truth, they can be drafted and finalized within an hour or two. Your frame of mind is critical to resume writing as well as every part of your job search. Remain positive and everything will fall into place painlessly.
As you work through this chapter, think about the seven steps to resume-writing success. Gauge where you are on the continuum and how close you are to completing a powerful resume. Go down your internal to-do list. Experience the relief and sense of accomplishment that comes from a mental “done that” check. Look forward to the next step. Don't worry or wait — go for it! Each resume-writing step means you are closer to achieving your job-search goals. After you finalize your resume, you will be empowered to reactively and proactively complete job-search undertakings.
The Seven Steps as Critical Questions
To inspire action, let's examine the seven steps through a series of questions. Your answers will reveal your readiness to take steps and how close to completion you really are.
Have you identified two to four sample resumes that you wish to model? Do they match your goals, or do they just appeal to your sense of style?
Do they have objectives, qualifications summaries, and/or achievements summaries? When does specific content appear? What is first, and what is presented last? Is education before experience, or vice versa?
Can you state your objectives concisely? Will they appear first on your draft? If your resume will begin with a qualifications summary, will the headline clearly project your goals and can it be easily identified by specific target readers? To whom will you be sending resumes, and why?
Do you have a collection of your most significant achievements? Do they appear under academic, experience, or other headlines, or do they appear in summary sections? What did you do to achieve these outcomes? What skills, perspectives, or knowledge were involved? Can you list the headlines for all sections that will compose your resume?
Can you describe the job you are seeking? What qualification criteria would be associated with the position? What fields, functions, and titles best characterize your targets? Have you circled or highlighted relevant summary entries that match your accomplishments and capabilities or criteria for specific jobs? Do you have a collection of keywords associated with field- or job-focused goals? Do you have a listing of accomplishments associated with each?
Have you typed a draft? Is it longer than a page? Did you do spelling and grammar checks? Did you have someone else proofread and comment on the draft?
Will you e-mail, post to the Web, snail mail, or hand deliver the distribution-ready version? Did you double-check spelling and usage? Do you have a cut-and-paste e-mail-friendly version?
If many of your answers are “No,” “Don't know,” or “Huh?” you should think about why. Review the previous chapters to get your bearings again, but don't worry. Most resume writers are overly self-critical and analytical. Begin or keep drafting; you'll have the opportunity to be more critical during the critiquing process, which doesn't start until you type the final words at the bottom of your page.
If your answers were mostly “Yes!” you are ready to go or, better, almost done! Start on that page you made that has your name and identifying information written across the top. Start writing! Go for it! Finish your draft right now!
Drafting, Critiquing, Duplication, and Distribution
Don't worry if your first resume is more of a multipurpose than a targeted resume. That might be the best way to get started; that is, by starting from a broad, general base. Later, as you revise, you should aim to create a more targeted version. Remember, writing targeted resumes and taking initial job-search actions are not commitments to specific fields. These are simply important first steps in a particular direction. These steps will, if you choose to proceed, ultimately lead to offers. Once you receive an offer, you will have the power to accept or decline; then and only then are you actually making a commitment.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Your resume, with its clearly stated objectives and qualification summary, is your prospective employer's window into your job goals. A resume allows you to display your assets; it also gives others a way to learn about your capabilities and interests. Don't underestimate the two-way powers of targeted resumes.
You should create your resume as a Microsoft Word document. This will make it easy for you to share electronic copies, whether by uploading or by e-mail. Spell check your resume every time you make revisions. The grammar check tool can be helpful, but remember that in resume style, you are allowed to use sentence fragments. You also commonly leave out personal pronouns (such as “I”) and articles (
As you write, stay focused on the aspects of yourself that you want to present. Don't fall into the trap of trying to please some potential employer. In almost all cases, the person who reads and reviews your resume will be a stranger. No matter how hard you try, you have no way of knowing what that person wants or expects to see. All you can do (and it's actually a lot) is put your best foot forward. Show them what you can do.