For folks who’ve been in the work world a long time, their first resume is but a misty memory of unfortunate font choices and unnecessary objectives. But for those who are first starting out, the idea of pulling together a visual representation of their still-fledgling career, with all its hopes and dreams and well, lack of concrete experience, is somewhat daunting, to say the least.
If you’re staring at that blank page, here’s how to get started.
1. Make a list.
Sometimes, the resume format is daunting. At Lifehacker, Alan Henry suggests throwing it out, for starters, and beginning with a list instead.
“First, think about all of your accomplishments, large and small,” he writes. “Depending on where you are in your career and the types of jobs you’re applying for, even small wins can help you stand out, so don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.”
List everything — jobs, skills, classes, academic papers or projects, anything that shows leadership and ability.
2. Make sure you include the important stuff.
Resumes formats and content will obviously vary greatly from person to person, but there are a few things that should go on every resume, including contact information. Alison Doyle of About.com’s Job Searching site also recommends the following:
- 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)
3. Choose a format that’s appropriate to your target job.
Some industries (advertising, design, etc.) love a creativee resume. Others (finance, legal) want you to stick to the script. We have some guidelines, here, but the best thing you can do is to get familiar with the industry you’re targeting and a read on the corporate culture of the company you’re applying to.
LinkedIn is useful for this. Although there are plenty of differences between a LinkedIn profile and a resume, a look at profiles of folks who’ve been on the job for a few years will give you a sense of how much creativity is encouraged in successful candidates — plus, you’ll get a good idea of which skills you should think about developing during your job-searching process.
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