Resume Writing 101

This series of blog posts will give you step-by-step instructions for writing your own résumé. This post will cover all of the information you need to collect before you can begin writing. The next post will cover the different types of résumé layouts so you can decide which one works best for you. The final post will cover typography (fonts, layout, etc.) and finishing touches.

The most time consuming part of writing your résumé is probably gathering all of the information you need, but this step is very important. You want to make sure that you can account for as much time as possible, either with work history or education, and you want the information on your résumé to be accurate. Many employers verify résumé information before hiring, and you don’t want to look like you are lying simply because you did not want to spend time collecting accurate information. (For more information about how employers verify résumé information, see this link: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/employee-lied-resume-48050.html.)

Here is a list of the information you should collect, at a minimum. Don’t bind yourself by this list. These are the categories that I can think of, and which would apply to me, but not all jobs are the same, and your career field may involve different information that is not listed here.

1. Employment. Make a list of EVERYWHERE you have worked—from your first job to your last or current job. Include the dates of employment, and be as specific, and accurate, as possible. Write down the location (city and state, or country), your title or position, and a list of your job duties.

2. Education. Include high school, GED, trade school, college, and any course of study, even if you did not complete it. Write down the locations of the schools, any degrees or certificates you may have received, and the dates you attended. Write down any independent courses or seminars.

3. Honors and awards. Were you employee of the month? Did you get any special honors in your career field?

4. Community and Volunteer Experience. This is especially important if you are trying to make up for a large gap in work history. List dates and locations for any projects you may have worked on and the responsibilities involved. Are you on the HOA board? PTA? Are you a Little League coach? This is a good chance to not only show your charitable side, but to show the employer why you stand out.

5. References. Ask people who know you and your work ethic if they will be references for you.  References who get a call out of the blue may not be willing to help you, and may even say something that hurts your chances at getting the job you want. Ask permission, and then get their name, address, and phone numbers to use when necessary. (For more information on how references can ruin your chances, click here: http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/references-derail-career.) 

Remember: It is better to have too much information than not enough! Go ahead and collect all of your information, and return in February for another blog post telling you how to actually write your résumé.

Read more: Resume Writing: 3 Types of Formats

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About Margaret Flynt
Margaret Flynt is a criminal appellate lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a juris doctor degree from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law and two bachelor of arts degrees from Mercer University. Margaret is no stranger to job hunting and interviewing. She worked her way through college and law school, holding up to three jobs at one given time, in a variety of career fields. Readers can look forward to Margaret’s articles offering practical tips and advice for the most important aspects of finding a job: job searching strategies, resumes and cover letters, and interviewing skills.

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