Writing That First Resume

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Resume Tips

Whether you are a recent graduate, starting your first job search in a long time due to layoff, or just a person who has never done a resume, writing a first resume can be very important in your job search.

Writing your first resume can seem like an impossible task…where do you start? My suggestion is to work hard at creating a first draft, just get information on paper. After you have done this, then begin the editing process with help from family and friends, along with School Counselors, the Department of Labor Career Services, or any other resource you may have available.

Your Resume is, in essence, your “sales document”. It is designed to sell the prospective employer on your skills and qualities in a way that perhaps an application does not allow. Do not allow the Resume to become a negative, however, by allowing spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.

Consider following this simple format if you are a recent graduate:
1.        Contact Information
2.        Objective (important for a new graduate to provide direction to the Recruiter)
3.        Education
4.        Experience
5.        Activities

Consider following this simple format for others writing a first resume:
1.      Contact Information
2.      Objective and Qualifications Summary (highlighting key skills and attributes)
3.      Work Experience
4.      Education (if beyond High School, otherwise omit)
5.      Certifications/Training
6.      Awards/Job Recognition

The following are some tips for consideration for those writing your first resume:

• Start with your contact information and include as many options as possible. On the top of your resume should be your name, address, and phone number (home and mobile, if applicable).

• If you are a December college graduate and entering the workforce, a common dilemma is how to project that you have some experience, even though it may be very limited. In this situation, do not underestimate other activities such as Internships (probably the most important of this list), Volunteer Work, and Extracurricular Activities. Specifically around Internships, don’t feel that you must segregate any unpaid Internships from your Work Experience. Your responsibilities and experience is what is important, not whether you were compensated directly from the company. Volunteer Work and Extracurricular Activities should be grouped under “Other Experience” or “Other Activities”.

• For those without much experience, a Functional Resume may be something to consider. On our website www.wnyjobs.com is an article specifically around this resume format. In essence, by writing a Functional Resume you are focusing on your qualifications and not your career timeline. You will section your resume not by each job you have had, but rather by your skills. It may be the right route for recent High School and College graduates, but if you have an established work history, then I recommend a traditional chronological format. The concern would be since the Functional Resume, is not done that often, it may look odd in a negative way to a Recruiter.

• Save the fancy borders and paper for those seeking more professional or creative positions. A basic, crisp, and accurate resume should be the goal. No need to buy special resume preparation software, as a document done in Microsoft Word will do just fine.

• Don’t fall for temptation and lie on your resume. You may be tempted, due to a lack of experience or an absence of a degree, to add something that is not true. Doing this opens you being caught and suffering not only embarrassment, but an employment termination if you happened to have been hired.

• If you are applying for an entry-level, skilled trade, or light industrial position, a one-page resume will do the trick. Anything more than that will cause you to stand out in a negative way.

• Don’t forget to emphasize your strengths. If you are a skilled tradesperson, then emphasize the machines you can run or the certifications you have obtained. If you are a seeking a light industrial position, then emphasize your productivity and your fine quality and safety records. Don’t underestimate how important these strengths are to the Recruiter.

• A recent graduate has a tough decision regarding whether to include Grade Point Average (GPA) or not in the education section. The general rule of thumb is if you have a 3.0/4.0 or above, it should be included. Anything below that should be omitted. Regardless of how many activities or Internships you have participated in, a below 3.0 GPA will stand out to a Recruiter who does not personally know you.

Writing that first resume can be a tough chore. Not many of us are natural writers and it is especially tough when you have to write about yourself. Writing a resume is doable by following a simple format while selling yourself. Do this and you are on your way to a competitive advantage.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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