How to Create a Resume

By Sam Berns
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A resume is a one or two page document that presents your professional capabilities in a summarized way. Most employers will only spend 10 seconds scanning your resume trying to determine if you are worth considering.

In that short time, they look for things on your resume such as education, experience and achievements that says you are capable of doing the job. They also look for reasons to exclude you like lack of education or experience, poor resume format and spelling errors.

Your resume should have six sections.

Section 1: Contact info

Your contact info should include your name, address, phone number and email. Make sure you can be reached by phone and email easily. Don’t give them a number you never answer or an email you never check.

Lisa Franks
387 Lake Dr.
New York, NY 10010
(212) 555-5440

Do you see something wrong with the email used above? Lisa should register a separate email for her resume that looks more professional with her name in the email like cazypartygirl34 isn’t professional.

Section 2: Headline

Did you know that your resume is really an advertisement, kind of like the advertisements you see in a magazine? But instead of selling a product you are “selling” yourself. To be effective, first your resume needs to capture the attention of your reader. This is what your headline is for.

Ambitious college student with retail sales experience looking for part-time position in the retail furniture field.

This headline says you are ambitious and experienced and specifies what type of job you are looking. It’s relevant because it’s targeted. If you were a manager at a furniture store scanning this resume, would this headline make you want to read more? I think it would.

Section 3: Education

Your education says more about you than the clothes you wear or the car you drive. Anyone can go out and buy nice things but an education says that you have acquired skills that you can share with others including employers.

Education also says that you’ve already gone through a selection process to get into a good school. Employers feel more comfortable hiring people that others (like college admissions examiner at a good school) have concluded are good candidates. That’s why people from harder to get into schools have an easier time getting into some jobs sometimes.

List your education starting with the more recent program first.

Truman College, Chicago, IL
Associate of Arts in Business Administration, anticipated completion: May 2010

Section 4: Experience

This section is the “heart” of your resume because it provides you the best opportunity to provide evidence that you make a great candidate. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of experience, a lot of skills are transferable which basically means that the things you did in the past like customer service at a restaurant can be transferred into your new job serving customers at a furniture store. Another way to obtain experience when you don’t have much is to volunteer.

List the company or organization, location, position title, dates of employment and description of responsibilities and duties. Here is a sample:

Bloomingdale’s, Chicago, IL, November 2006 - present Sales Associate
  • Became first sales associate to reach a daily sales average of $20,000 in the women’s shoes department.
  • Drafted internal sales procedures for new sales associates.
  • Coordinated and planned employee events for new hires.
  • Acted as liaison with vendors and warehouse to assure timely merchandise delivery.

When you list you responsibilities and duties, make sure you demonstrate that you also did them well. Don’t just say “sold shoes”, say how many, show that you were good at what you did and how that contributed towards the benefit of the company.

Section 5: Achievements

Employers care about your achievements because they are the results of your efforts. What did you develop, lead, create and how did it benefit your employer? Did you obtain a special award or scholarship? When listing your achievements, try to quantify them with numbers to add weight to them. For example: Won mall award for achieving over $50,000 in sales during a one day period.

Section 6: Personalized section

Is there a special skill or interest that you have that doesn’t fall into any of the above categories that you think your potential employer might be interested in knowing about? You can create your own category and add it here.

For example, say the store you are applying to gets a lot of clients that speak Spanish and you happen to speak Spanish, you could create a section called “Languages” and include that fact.

Fluently bilingual in English and Spanish.

Other personalized section headings for example might include computer skills, certifications, memberships, hobbies, etc.

One last thing

Don’t ever lie on your resume. If they catch you lying, no matter how small the lie, you loose all credibility. If there is something you want to include on your resume but can’t, go out and learn that thing for real or you can say that you are working towards it.

Don’t say you can speak Spanish if you can’t. Go out and take Spanish classes, then at least you can say that you are currently enrolled in level 1 Spanish at so and so school. It gets the point across that you are committed to learning Spanish (or whatever else) but in an honest way.
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