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April 16, 2012

4 Tips for Writing Resumes from Scratch

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4 Tips for Writing Resumes from Scratch

By Don Goodman, About Jobs

Even if you are working off of a resume template, you still need to formulate how to place your experiences and accomplishments into words effectively. You also need to narrow down which type of information from your experiences are relevant and worthy of mentioning on a resume.

It may only take an employer a couple of seconds to review your resume and determine if you are a qualified candidate worthy of follow-up, which makes it even more important to fine tune your resume information so that it gives an immediate punch to get you noticed.

To help ease the process of gathering the appropriate information for your resume and formulating the content to help you stand out, here are some steps and questions to take:

1. Create an outline of your career history from past to present.

Pull together the details of your employment history for the last five to 10 years. You'll need the name of the employer, position you held, dates of employment and a general overview of your role at the company.

2. Determine what types of experiences and strengths the job you are seeking requires.

When you know what types of experiences and skills are desired for the job you are applying for, you can customize your resume information so that it is more relevant and targeted to what potential employers may be looking for. Not all of your past experiences need to go on a resume, only what is relevant and will help demonstrate you qualify. Knowing this information will also help you craft the starting point for your resume where you include a "Summary of Qualifications" or similar title to that effect to inform an employer what you have to offer.

3. Develop a brand statement or value proposition.

An effective resume informs an employer what you have to offer and demonstrates your potential based on previous accomplishments and achievements. Quantify results to help demonstrate what areas you are strong at and the level of skills you have. Do not rely on simply indicating responsibilities you've held. That will not tell an employer how good you are at the job.

4. Evaluate what keywords you need to include.

A majority of employers today use scanning technology to help filter the most relevant resumes that come in. In order for your resume to make it to the hands of the contact who will decide who to invite for follow-up, you need to first get past its scanning technology that is tracking a set of keywords. The more relevant keywords you have that are part of its top-tier search criteria, the higher your chances your resume will be reviewed by a person. Keep the keywords in mind as you write your resume to incorporate it where possible, but in the appropriate context. The job advertisement is where you will find the most relevant keywords to include to your resume. Other sources you may rely on to find keywords include job descriptions that may appear on job boards.

Don't be surprised by how much time it takes to write a resume. If it were an easy task, there wouldn't be the need for professional resume writers. Take the time to quantify a quality background for yourself because it is your main tool to getting your foot in the door with most employers.

If you want to get a call back, you will need to make your resume relevant, targeted and punchy to capture the attention of an employer within seconds.

Also be sure to give it another review and have another person review it before sending it off. One minor mistake in spelling or grammar can cost you. Today's employers are quick to dismiss a resume. They are overloaded with applications and resumes so when qualifying resumes, they are also looking for reasons to dismiss it.

Don Goodman, president of About Jobs, is a triple-certified, nationally recognized expert resume writer, career coach and job search strategist.

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