Friday, August 8, 2008


I created my first resume as I was graduating from college and preparing to apply for my first professional job. Some people have filled out applications or been hired without one, but very quickly are finding that if a potential employer requires a resume, you better have one. Today, high school students are learning the resume basics and creating one to sum up their high school work experiences, volunteerism, activities, achievements, etc. A resume is a basic to obtain professional work like have a social security number.

The word resume is French for “summing up.” So that’s what you need to do in one to two pages, sum it up. Tons of books, workshops, and Internet searching can reveal the suggested formats and examples for a resume. In a nutshell, they include the chronological format, functional format, and combination. For years, the chronological resume was the only style, the traditional style when men dominated the workforce. Now, in a changing workplace that continues to evolve, additional resumes styles are used.

Essential Components of a Resume:

•Work Experience – What have you done? Where did you do it? When did you do it? Name the job title and list or describe your responsibilities or accomplishments. Use “action verbs” to describe your position. Words like, “operated, analyzed, prepared, or organized” are like dabs of paint on your canvas as you begin to create your resume, your masterpiece.

•Skills – What have you used in your position? What are you mastered? Are you skilled with computer programming? It so, what kind? Have you used teaching skills, sales skills, or leadership skills on the job? Describe how you used these skills. Maybe you are detail oriented, a good time manager, or skilled on small engine repair. Tell the potential employer what you have to offer in your “toolbox of skills.”

•Education or Professional Accomplishments – How much time did you devote to higher education? If you have invested your time and money to obtain a degree or advanced degrees, certifications, or licensures, this is the place to share it. If you are returning to college or involved in continuing education, tell the employer how you are advancing your knowledge through additional college training.

•Volunteerism or Community Involvement – For many years, this category was overlooked or presumed as unnecessary. Today, many employers are asked to be on boards, advisory committees, or to make financial or volunteer contributions to nonprofit organizations. Perhaps you assisted with the United Way Campaign at work, participated in a walkathon for juvenile diabetes, serve on the city council, or are a leader for scouting. An employer might like to see someone who gets involved in the community.

A resume is a fluid document. Keep it current. Continue to update, edit, or enhance as you change employers or job title, learn new skills, attend professional training, take a college night class, etc. Review your resume every six months to update the information while it is fresh in your mind. The resume should reflect your professional growth. Since it one or two pages, “ancient history” of work experience from 15 years ago or more can be summarized or omitted depending on their relevancy. Most employers want to hire you for your skills today, not yesterday.

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