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Curing Underemployment (or) Josh’s Six Step Plan to a Great Resume (part 5 of 6)

Yesterday, I went through the fourth step in my resume-writing process, creating a rough draft. We’re in the home stretch!

Step 5: “Final” draft time… buckle down

Greyhound Racing: Home Stretch by sombraala on flickr
Greyhound Racing: Home Stretch by sombraala on flickr

OK, you have a resume, you’re about 80% there. Now it’s time to bring it all together.

First, lay it all out. Personal statement is first, then what? Education? What is the most important thing about the job you’re applying to? If you’re applying to be a web developer, your skill set is probably more important than your BA degree from a few years ago. If, however, you’re applying to be a college professor, your education is probably pretty darn important. Don’t stress too much about the order, however, because there’s plenty more to do.

Once you’ve got everything in place, it’s time to start collecting, cutting, and collating. In your skills list, group similar skills together and cut out parts that are non-essential or just distracting. Use commas, connectors, and creative words to cut down on length and content.

Next, take a hard look at your positions and do the same. You want to reduce the length of your resume as much as possible but include the most important things. This is a delicate balance and it might take a few iterations to get it right.

You also want to be telling an interesting story about your employment. Stop laughing, I mean it. It’s all connected and you had the jobs you had for a reason. For each position, you want to show your progression and why you were important at each step of the way. Just because you did the same thing everyday for 3 years doesn’t mean you weren’t an integral part of the process. Make sure that the progress and the story you’re telling ALWAYS relates back to the job for which you’re applying.

A few tips:

  • Watch your tense. If it was a previous job, then use the past tense (you “were responsible” for this and “facilitated” that). If it is a current position, then use the present tense (you “are responsible” and “facilitate” this and that).
  • Go easy on the stock “jobby” words (like the two I used above). You can only say that you were responsible for so much before it gets a bit repetitive. Be creative in your speech and color it up a bit. Say what you need to say but inject your personality in there.
  • There is no absolutely correct way to write a resume. One place might look down on a super-corporate, dry, humorless resume while another might expect it. The only thing you need to be sure of is the grammar and the punctuation. If you suck at either or both of these, there are services out there that can help you for cheap. It’s worth it to spend a few bucks to make sure it’s right instead of ending up in the “no” pile just for a mis-key.

Get it written, make sure it’s not over a page (unless it really needs to be [show-off]), then give it a rest. The more you work on something so boring and important, the more you’re going to hate it. Crank it out and put it down for a day.

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