What to Do Before You Write a Resume

Resumes are always a work in progress, but if you don't do the groundwork before you sit down to tweak yours, you could wind up with a Frankenstein's monster of a CV -- all mismatched parts.

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Jessica Sager at The Grindstone recently wrote a post on the importance of preparing before you start working on your resume in earnest. First and foremost, she advises readers to write down every job they've held since writing their resume -- and then write down every skill they used at those jobs, and every task they performed.

"List every imaginable task," she writes. "There may be some you don't want to write on a particular resume, and that's okay! But by listing all of them out, you may find that one job you didn't think was relevant to a position you’re applying for may actually make you an asset to that company."

In addition, we'd advise:

1. Starting from scratch.

No, you don't need to write your resume all over again every time you change jobs. But starting from the beginning now and then -- especially during big career changes -- might help you avoid leaving on irrelevant jobs and skills that are just cluttering up your resume.

2. Pick a format that fits the job you're applying for.

Different industries have different expectations when it comes to resumes. If you're applying for a job at a bank, for example, you probably don't want to prepare a video resume with a full band backing you up, but that might be totally appropriate for some startups.

3. Think about how others see you.

Sager suggests looking at your old performance reviews to see the skills and abilities that your boss saw in you. You can also use LinkedIn for this -- your network will likely endorse skills that you never even realized you had.

Finally, it's never a bad idea to enlist your friends as helpers when it comes to resume preparation. They can suggest additions, subtractions, and corrections that you'd never be able to recognize and make all on your own.

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