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How to Write a Resume

Here at Ultius, we're all about doing our best to make sure you get the written content you need. Resumes are notoriously difficult documents to create-- a good resume has to somehow stand out from the dozens of others on a potential employer's desk. Check out the guide below on how to write a resume, and if you still need some help, we offer the following services and additional writing guides:

 
 
 

Introduction

Writing a resume is not an easy task, which is why we've crafted this guide on how to write a resume. There are many variables to consider and the client holds to key to writing a resume that is superior to others and guaranteed to be noticed by employers. Much of the work needed to write a resume is done before the writing even begins. The proper client background information, job listings, job requirements, and past employment information is necessary to correctly gauge the style, language, and abilities to showcase when writing a specific resume. It is imperative that research be conducted on the organization and job position the resume is intended for. In this manner, writing a resume is similar to writing an essay or research paper-- preparation is key.

Required Information

There is an abundance of information to be requested from the client before writing of a resume begins. For instance, determine which company (or audience) the resume is intended for.  Perform online research on the organization, noting the terminology usage in the job description, terminology common to the particular industry, and terminology used in other resumes geared toward the desired job position. Making note of this information is crucial to writing an excellent resume for a client. Additional information to be obtained from the client is detailed below.

The client should provide a resume writer with important documents detailing his or her past employment when requesting the resume. Two copies of the client’s most recent resume (in case one is lost, misplaced, or altered irreversibly during the writing process) is a requirement. The resume must be complete, with accurate and updated information. Verification of all information via the internet, phone calls, websites, or emails must be completed before the information is placed on the final resume. In addition, verification of the information included in all individual items on the resume is necessary before writing of a resume commences. This includes: organization name, address (at least city and state), phone numbers, working email addresses, contacts names (include first and last names, verify spellings) with current titles, and the dates (at least years) the client was employed at the organization.

In addition to previous employment history, personal references are often helpful and necessary for job applications and character references of the employment applicant. Request three personal references from the client with first and last names, titles, and years known. Instruct the client to contact the personal references for their permission before submitting the written resume to any prospective employers. The most important part of writing a resume is matching the client’s previous experience and qualifications to the job description and requirements. Therefore, the complete job listing and requirements must be obtained prior to writing the resume for a client. The name of the organization, city and state or address, phone number, and contact name (first and last) with a title should be verified via the Internet.  Recent studies have shown that many resumes never reach the hiring personnel because of simple issues such as length, misspellings, inaccurate or irrelevant information, or incorrect terminology. This makes research, style, and language the most important factors in obtaining a first interview with a prospective employer.

If a cover letter was written by the client for the job position, or for a job position that is similar, request a copy. The language used in the cover letter may indicate issues the client has that relate to failure to obtain the desired job position, or provide clues to information that may be missing in the succinct format of a resume. If the resume is not specific for a particular available job position or is to be used as a general resume template by the client for the foreseeable future, ask the client for the names of the future positions they may want to apply for. Use this information for research and to determine language and tone used for writing the resume. The inclusion, examination, and rephrasing of the information collected beforehand will increase the value of the written resume and increase the likelihood that its subject will be noticed and contacted for the available job position exponentially.

Selecting a Resume Style

Almost any version of Microsoft Word or similar word procession software will include templates, or previously designed documents into which different content can be entered. Word has several different templates available, and more may be downloaded online as needed. It is important to fit the content and the resume style to the job position available so that the information flows and is accessible to the hiring manager. A resume that is difficult to read because of disorganization, misplaced information, hard-to-read text, or unnecessary graphics will be immediately dismissed. Excellent locations for finding resume templates are networking employment websites such as LinkedIn.com. 

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Performing a search for the job description the client desired will yield competitor information as well as correct industry terminology and accomplishments that will improve the writing of a resume. If, in the course of such research, an ideal template, layout, or style is found, it may be used in to write the current resume. Simply changing the content will gear the resume toward the client (double-checking the information carefully will ensure that old content is not present in the new resume). Resume templates found online or in Microsoft Word versions are often temperamental; changing the format will be difficult or impossible after a template is chosen. Initial exploration and selection of the template that best fits the organization’s job position is crucial in order to avoid formatting issues later.

Before selecting a resume style (Microsoft Word provides many, or download a new one found on the internet if need be), research resumes available online by searching the job position with a common search engine such as Google. Once a fitting layout is found, it can easily be transferred over to the resume being written. Changing the contents will gear it toward the current client. (Keep in mind that a previously designed template’s format will be difficult and frustrating to change later, so selecting a template or style that fits the purpose of the resume is extremely important.) Searching for current resumes that fit the desired job description also provides an opportunity to examine the competing applicants.

General Rules for Writing a Resume

Best practices are necessary and recommended for any project, and writing a resume is no exception.  Keep the resume to one page (or at the very most two pages) whenever possible, as most recruiters and other people screening it for a possible call back, initial interview, or second interview will not read more than one or two pages. Select a format or template that is simple and easy to read; this will allow the content to speak for itself. The type should be no smaller than ten point, in a familiar typeface such as Times New Roman or Arial. When describing past or current job duties of the client, use action verbs instead of passive verbs, and include at least one major accomplishment along with its positive effect on the organization in question. Avoid crowding unnecessary information into the resume, and use bullets beneath each employment position held. Omit the words “the,”  and “that” whenever possible. Bullet points should not start with “the,” and should not end with periods. Including the verbs, phrases, and terminology found on the hiring organization’s website or resumes for similar positions on employment networking websites will greatly increase the visibility and potential for notice of the final written resume. Do not include unnecessary fonts or graphics in the resume as these distract from the content and frustrate hiring personnel. Keep the resume as succinct as possible without omitting pertinent information.

A very careful final check of phone numbers, addresses, and names should be conducted before the final draft is complete. It is very important to send the client the final draft to look over; he or she will immediately catch errors made or details omitted because the resume is technically a short life history. Revise the final draft as necessary and submit the final version to the client in a timely manner.

Final Thoughts on Writing a Resume

In today’s difficult and often frustrating employment and hiring environment, obtaining or writing an excellent resume is the key to being noticed by a potential employer. Mistakes, misspellings, inaccuracies, and typos are unacceptable in such an intolerant environment. A resume must describe the exact qualifications of experience of the client, in such a way that the employer cannot help but notice. The intention of the resume writer is for the client’s resume to navigate and supersede the sea of pre-screening processes that are present in nearly every modern hiring situation. Failure to do so will result in wasted time, information, and effort on the part of the client, the employer, and the resume writer. Proper terminology, in depth research, correct information, and final fact-checking are the markers of resume success. In addition to these rules, the individual rules set by the requirements in a particular job description must be followed extremely accurately, as many candidates can be dismissed out of hand for failure to follow the simple rules set forth.

Conclusion

The goal of a resume is to obtain an initial interview, whether it is a phone interview, and Internet-based exchange via Skype or similar video calling software, or an in-person meeting. This is no small hurdle in a saturated and overqualified job environment, and the accuracy, efficiency, and integrity of each candidate is considered carefully (often by many different members of an organization) before a job offer or an initial interview is extended. The importance of language, formatting, style, and candidate abilities cannot be overstressed in the process of writing a resume, and should be considered and examined by the writer repeatedly throughout the resume writing process.  The candidate should be communicated with regularly to avoid misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the knowledge and information provided to the writer, thereby preventing mistakes and errors which may prevent the candidate and client from obtaining the crucial first interview or being offered a position by the desired organization.

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