Your resume should be designed for two types of reading: someone scanning your resume should glean your academic degrees, job titles, special experiences, or skills; someone reading your resume should learn valuable information about your achievements and gain an impression of
your competencies and personal qualities.
Developing a good resume is a challenging task. The best resumes are usually a product of many drafts. Start by writing a comprehensive outline of all the experiences and information you might want to include. Use this outline as a reference while you experiment with a variety of formats and styles. Then select the most pertinent information from the outline and organize it so that the most important items stand out.
In order to develop a resume that communicates your qualifications, you need to understand what employers are seeking. Identify several prospective employers and find out what skills and knowledge they are looking for. Reading occupational and company literature gives you a good introduction to this information, but visiting a person at work so you can observe the functions, pace, interpersonal relationships, and work environment will allow you to assess firsthand what qualifications are most important.
Ask several different people to read and comment on drafts of your resume. Friends can tell you whether they think you have succeeded in communicating your strengths. Advisers can comment on the impression your resume makes and what they learn about you from it. When you interview career advisers to learn about occupations and gather job hunting advice, ask them to critique your resume for its appropriateness to their field.
Career counselors can also help you identify what employers are looking for and what you have to offer. When you meet with a counselor, bring a draft or drafts of your resume and the comprehensive outline from which you have worked. This will make it easier for the counselor to help you design a presentation that communicates your qualifications effectively. If you don’t have directly related experience, your career counselor can help you analyze the relevant skills that you have developed in your activities and work experiences and describe those skills in words that the employer will understand.
Professional resume-writing services will develop your resume for a fee, but they will not produce a resume that is a personal reflection of your experience and uniquely yours. Most of these services use a small number of standard formats and styles. Your resume will look like
hundreds of other peoples’ resumes and the employer will probably recognize that it is not your own work.
The following guidelines in the next installment of this series have been distilled from many consultations about resumes with students, job hunters, and employers. Please read them
carefully and then start experimenting with different formats and styles for your presentation.