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

Ha! I thought forgot about the last one, huh? Nope.

On Friday, I posted the 5th step to a great resume, writing a “final” draft.

Step 6: Lay it out as you go through it again (and again [and again])

blueprint by dog on wheels on flickr
blueprint by dog on wheels on flickr

This is the final step and possibly the most important one. This is called “checking your work” or “avoiding the if-only-I-had’s.”

If you haven’t formatted the document, now is the time. You’ll probably want to check out my guide on simple typography in any document to give you an idea on how to keep it simple and effective. Remember to style for the position. If you’re applying to a law firm, keep it tight, simple, and classy. If you’re applying to a graphic design company, spice it up a bit, use some color, and show them you know a thing or two about alignment.

I like to style as I read – as long as it is the first re-read of many. Reading concurrently keeps the flow of the document in mind as I put it together. It also breaks things up because reading, re-reading, and editing can wear a little thin, especially if it’s your writing.

Read it through normally once or twice, then mix it up a little bit:

  • Read it out loud to yourself or someone else. If it sounds awkward, it’s probably wrong. If it’s awkward to you, the person who wrote it, imagine how it will be to someone else. Toss the sentence out and re-write it or consider breaking it up. Sometimes, the only problem is a missing period and another capital letter.
  • Read it “backwards.” Start at the end and read each sentence in opposite order. This is annoying and a bit frustrating but it does work. Since you wrote this masterpiece, your brain knows what is coming next. If you read it in the wrong order, it forces you to think about each sentence individually. This is a good thing.
  • Give it to someone else to read. This is a critical step, especially for resumes. It’s improbable that a second set of eyes WON’T catch something that you missed. Bite the bullet and hand it off to a spouse, friend, or parent.

If you’ve read it more than 3 times, tried all three tips above, and feel good about it, then it’s time to get it ready to print.

Final steps to get ready to send these out

I said six steps but here’s a few bonus ones that bring this process home…

Save a copy of each document with some kind of indication in the file name telling you the position to which it corresponds and the date it was finalized. Obviously keep an editable copy but also make sure you’re making PDF versions and sending those out. A PDF will look the same on every computer in every program without exception and that’s a good thing. Get yourself a free PDF maker (CutePDF works great if you don’t have the Word plugin or Adobe Abrobat) and make yourself some PDFs.   Make sure to review the PDF before you send it to make sure nothing changed during the translation (rare but it happens).

Keep a copy on a USB drive if you have one with you, in online storage if you use it, or email it to yourself so it is always accessible. There’s nothing worse than needing your fresh, amazing resume and not having it. Plus, keeping it in your email makes it easy to forward out at any time. Google Documents now allows PDFs so you have no excuse to have this important document handy.

Finally, make sure you have some printed copies around. Go to Kinko or FedExko’s or whatever and have them print it out on nice paper. Don’t go crazy with the marble-finish, 98% cotton paper, just get something nice, relatively thick, and nice to touch.

Following this process to a “T” will make sure that your resume puts your best attributes forward. If you need helping writing or deigning your resume or want to put together an online presence to promote yourself, please get a hold of me!

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