How to write your resume

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In the first part we discussed filling out an application as the beginning of applying for a job. But most companies will expect you to have a resume that you can attach to an e-mail (or rarely, send by postal mail) that they can review before inviting you in for an interview.

A question a lot of job sites do not answer is just exactly what is a resume? The simplest way to look at a resume is a summary of your education and work experience that briefly tells a potential employer about what you know and what you can do. Remember from part one that finding a job is about your marketable skills. The resume is where you can list both your formal education and work experience.

The standard resume has a basic format. That format is written in a specific order.

  • Your formal name, current address, city, state, zip code
  • A contact telephone number
  • Formal education, the most recent school attended listed first
  • Verifiable work experience, the most recent job listed first

The only preparation you have to do before writing a standard resume is to be sure your dates of employment are correct and you confirm any graduation dates with the school. Usually the month and year format is enough, meaning you do not have to have the exact date you started and ended your jobs. You will have to be prepared to explain any gaps in your work history, such as being unable to work due to illness or deciding to go to school to acquire more skills.

When you list your formal education, be sure to include the name of the school, your major course of study, and the date you graduated. If you are still in school, leave out the graduation date and instead put the date you began your studies and the phrase “to current.” Including your grade point average (G.P.A.) is something not everyone agrees on. Unless you graduated with honors, the G.P.A. should not be included. Do not put any clubs or activities you were involved with in this section.

Your work experience, or employment history, is the last section of the standard resume. Here you will list the name of the company, your title (mail clerk, secretary, etc.), a brief job description, and the beginning and end dates of your employment. The job description should highlight the major responsibilities of your position. The specifics and details of your job duties will be discussed during the interview.

The total length of your resume will depend on how much education and work experience you have acquired. Do not decide on a fixed number of pages the resume should be. The more resumes you write, the more you will become comfortable with what is the right length for you.

The issue of putting false information on a resume needs to be mentioned. Choosing to make such a decision usually has a huge downside to it, mainly because most people cannot afford to lose a good paying job. More than 85 percent of all employers do some type of background check on potential hires, so there is a good chance the deception will be uncovered.