A resume that showcases the best you have to offer while targeting the job that is the right fit will make all the difference in your success.  A resume is more than a depiction of your employment history.  While past employers and dates are important, what is more important is giving a hiring manager insight on your strengths, accomplishments, and desires.   Here are eight easy steps to a resume that conveys who you are and what you want.

  1. A trick I learned is to detach.   It is hard to brag on yourself, so in your mind think of yourself in the third person.  Imagine that person with all the best qualities and characteristics of yourself.
  2. Next, think about the job you want. Make a list of the skills and talents you have that fit perfectly for that job.  Also, think of that job from the hiring manager’s perspective.  What keywords would that manager focus on when looking for the ideal candidate?  Make a list.  You’ll want to incorporate those keywords into your resume.
  3. Choose a format. Most resumes are chronological, listing experience in order by date.  Some are functional, listing experience by category.  And some are a combination of the two.  The most commonly used, and most well received by recruiters, is the chronological resume.  If you are making a career change or have a varied work history, the functional or a combination of the two might be a good choice.   To make it easier, there are many templates on the internet from which to choose.  Be sure to select a template that is appropriate to your industry.
  4. Once you have a template, start with the easy stuff. Put your contact information in the heading.  Make sure your name stands out and is easy to read. Typically, your name should be bolded and in a larger font than the other contact information.   Use a street address instead of a P.O. Box, if possible.  List one phone number, whether your mobile or home phone.  Make sure you have a clear and polite greeting on the voicemail message of whichever phone you choose.  List one personal email address and make sure to check it frequently.  If you have a web page, or social media page that is appropriate to your job search, list that as well.
  5. While the objective statement is optional on a resume, it can give a clear indication of the job you desire. Use the list you made earlier of skills, talents, and keywords to craft a short statement.  You can use a function, a specific job title, and any area of specialization.  For example, “Administrative associate with five years of experience delivering accurate and timely financial statements.  Acknowledged for teamwork and reporting excellence.”
  6. Next, if using the chronological format, list your work history by date, starting with the most recent. Explain any gaps in employment that exceed two years or more.   For each, showcase your achievements, not simply responsibilities.  Quantify your achievements by using metrics whenever possible.  Continuing with the example above, an achievement statement might be, “Achieved 100% accuracy on financial statements, and 99% on-time reporting”.  Give the most attention to the most current two employers.  Unless there is an exceptional achievement with older employers, any mentions should be brief.
  7. After your employment history, list your education. This should include college, or special certifications or training.   If you went to college but do not have a degree, simply list the college and are of study.  If you are currently enrolled or have an intended completion date, note “currently enrolled” or “anticipated completion Spring 2018”.
  8. Other items that are optional but can be listed on your resume include community service, professional affiliations, awards, honors, and computer skills.

Once you have your resume drafted, proof-read it at least three times.  Then, ask a friend (or several) to proof-read it.  Make sure all spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct.

Now you are armed with a portrait of your best self, targeted at the job that will be the right fit—a great combination for your success.