Writing Your First Resume

By: Louise Fletcher


If you are worried about writing a resume, or struggling with the task, you're not alone! But creating your first resume doesn't have to be an intimidating task if you understand the goal of your résumé - to generate interest and interviews. It doesn't have to get you a job and it doesn't need to cover your life history. It simply has to pique the interest of the reader and answer the only question he cares about: will this candidate add value to my company?

If your résumé answers this question effectively - by clearly communicating your strengths - employers will want to meet with you. It really is that simple.

Of course, in order to demonstrate your value, you need to know what potential employers are looking for. Start by researching job postings that interest you. Look for frequently-mentioned requirements. Ask experienced professionals what they consider important when they make hiring decisions. Read professional publications and websites related to your target industry. Immerse yourself in your chosen field and learn as much as you can. Once you know what is important to employers you can target your résumé to address those issues.

Many students and recent graduates worry that they don't have enough experience to create a compelling résumé. Don't be concerned. Once you start to really think about your background, you'll be surprised at what you have to boast about. The content of your résumé will be determined by your own unique experiences, skills and background but ­ as a general guideline ­ you should include:

    * Positive personal characteristics
    * Technical and computer skills
    * Coursework relevant to your desired profession
    * Educational accomplishments (include your GPA if it's    over 3.0).
    * Skills and experience gained during internships or summer    jobs
    * Other related accomplishments (design awards,    recognition, winning competitions etc.)
    * Work History (include unpaid work if it relates to your    target positions).

The key is to emphasize those things that demonstrate your value and to leave out those things that don't. For example, if you are looking to work in Information Systems, your ability to program in C++ will be important - but the fact that you have won awards for water skiing won't! Don't include hobbies unless they directly relate to your goal.

Many people are surprised to learn that résumé design is just as important as content, but it's absolutely true. Research suggests that your résumé has less than 20 seconds to make the right impression, so it must be eye-catching and easy to read. To get ideas for layout and structure, go to the library and study the résumé books specifically written for students. All contain examples of professionally-written résumés and will help you decide on the best approach. Don't use one of the pre-loaded MS Word templates. There is no better way to make sure you look like everyone else!

As you work on your résumé, keep your reader in mind and remember his/her basic concern: will this candidate add value? If you answer effectively by highlighting relevant skills, personal characteristics and accomplishments, your résumé will open the right doors and generate interviews.


Louise Fletcher is President and Co-Founder of Blue Sky Resumes, which provides job search assistance, resume writing services and web resume portfolios. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). You can learn more by visiting www.blueskyresumes.comwww.blueskyresumes.com or by emailing Louise directly at lfletcher@blueskyresumes.com.