How to Write a Resume

The Two Toughest Things About Writing a Resume

I've spent countless hours writing resumes over many years in my roles as a web/software developer and project manager. In that time I've discovered that there are two areas that cause me the most trouble. First is deciding where to start. Second is knowing when to stop.

When faced with a blank page it's easy to become a victim of analysis paralysis. You end up thinking about all of the things you could do rather than actually doing something. So my first piece of advice is to start writing. As ideas come in to your head, let them flow into your resume. At this point there is nothing that is wrong so just keep writing. Eventually you'll hit a point where you're out of ideas and you have nothing left to write. It is at this point that you should begin the editing process.

Knowing when to stop working on your resume is also a tough call. There always seems to be some portion that you can rewrite or some design phpect you can tweak. What you need to realize is that such continuous changes have diminishing returns and eventually are not worth doing. Save the file, close it, and start working on the actual process of landing interviews.

Resume Editing Process

Once you've got all of your experiences listed in a document, you need to organize the information. Resumes are generally organized in chronological fashion. This style is logical and also addresses most employer's desire to see what your most recent experiences have been. With this in mind, group your notes by employer and list them in reverse chronological order.

Take a look at the overall length of your resume. Are you close to one page or two? Adjust your notes so that you end up with 1 full page or 2 full pages. This'll mean adding or removing items. Avoid an overly long resume. Beyond two pages the information is unlikely to be relevant to employers and it just shows that you can't summarize effectively. Once you've figured out a target number of pages, aim to have each job description the same length i.e. same number of bullets. It's OK to have more info for more recent jobs since you're likely doing more as you develop additional skills.

Now that you have all of yours jobs listed confirm that the bullet points for each are presented with the strongest, most impressive ones first. The definition of impressive will depend on what sorts of jobs you are applying too. Aim to cover areas that demonstrate both hard and soft skills. Hiring managers want to know that you can do the job as well as get along with the rest of the team.

The Finishing Touches

The last thing you should do with your resume is create a header with your name and contact information. Use your full name, provide a phone number, and give an e-mail. Use a professional e-mail address even if that means creating a new one. A mailing address is good too since it'll allow employers to determine if you're in the right area.

Note: Be sure to check out the free sample resumes page.

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