Everyone has to start their resume from scratch at some point and, often times, it's tough to figure out how to produce the right content. Just like any good written piece, it starts with the writer brainstorming. Ask yourself these questions as you jump into crafting a document that will get your foot in the door to a company that you've dreamed about working for.
We've broken up the questions into three categories -- aesthetics, content, and skills -- that will help you organize your brainstorming process.
Do I want a traditional resume or a creative resume? And what is most acceptable in my industry?
Do I want to add a pop of color to differentiate my resume from others?
What font do I want to use that looks industry appropriate?
Do I want to use divider lines to separate the different sections?
How can I use the bold, italics, and underline features to draw readers eyes to the right content?
The idea of your resume is to focus on your value add, so choose a resume design that gives you enough space to advocate for yourself.
(One caveat: notice I did not ask you to consider using a pre-designed template from anywhere on the internet. These typically showcase prettiness over content, and therefore do not provide enough space for you to really sell yourself. The idea of your resume is to focus on your value add, so choose a resume design that gives you enough space to advocate for yourself.)
Once you have an idea of how you want your resume to look -- because first impressions really are everything -- it's important to spend the majority of your time focused on presenting your content perfectly.
What are the biggest themes about my work ethic, personality, and experience do I want to highlight?
What projects am I most proud of?
What results have you accomplished through your work?
What metrics can I add that help prove why I am right for the job?
How should I categorize my resume? (Ex. Experience, Leadership, Honors, Education, Highlights, Skills, etc.)
In addition to the experience and content of your resume, you also want to feature the skills you have mastered that make you an excellent candidate for the role you're applying to.
What skills am I most proud of that I want to highlight?
What skills do I offer that colleagues or friends come to me for help?
What hard skills (Ex. software programs) do I know?
What soft skills (Ex. communication) have I mastered?
What skills are needed in the role that I'm applying for that I have?
How do I want to present my skills? Do I want to create a general list? Do I want to categorize my skills? Is it appropriate to use graphics to showcase skills?
Does the skill section on my resume match the skills section on my Linkedin?
Use these questions as a spring board to writing a strong resume. And each time you write a bullet point, ask yourself if you answered one of the questions above. If you haven't, think about ways to re-write your resume so that you put your best impression forward.
Sarah Sax is the Founder of Write For The Job.