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Thursday, April 06, 2006
Get Organized with Your Resume
I am a pretty organized person. Some of my friends and family might even say that I’m anal about organization. I have to be to manage everything and I’ve created some pretty cool processes and systems that help me keep all the plates spinning. Organization in a resume is also a key issue and one that gets ignored a great deal by job seekers who attempt to write their own resumes. However, a well-organized resume is one that is one step closer to gaining an interview.

Think of a resume as a notebook/binder that has a report of your career in it. The first thing you see is the cover. In a resume, the cover is the header where your name and contact information appear. It is for reference mainly and to “title” your resume.

Inside the front cover, is the introduction page. This is the page that gets read the most by readers, usually completely if it’s short enough and to-the-point. This section in the resume is the Summary section. It is the most important part of the resume because it sets the stage for the rest of the resume. If you can catch the interest in the Summary, the reader is more likely to pay closer attention to the rest of the content.

Next in the binder is a set of dividers with labels on them. Each label represents a section of the resume – Career History, Professional Affiliations, Technical Skills, Education, Training, etc. The labels are the headers in the resume. The reader will glance quickly at these to see what is there and generally go immediately to the Career History section. Next to the Summary, the Career History section is the most important and the most-read. Generally, the Education section comes last in order because it is the least important section – that is unless you are a new grad and have no real-world experience to offer instead. In that case, the Education is the big selling point and that comes ahead of work experience.

Within each section, there is a page of information in the binder. In the resume, of course, it is much shorter but use your imagination and see this in your mind. In the Career History, there might be more than one page where each page represents a job that you have held. On the top of each of these pages is the job title followed by the employer followed by the date. The information comes in this general order because that is the order of interest on the part of the hiring manager. They want to see the positions you’ve held, where you have worked, and what time periods you held each position.

Farther down the page, you should have a strong description of the scope of your position making sure not to be too wordy and not include minor tasks such as “attended meetings”. In bulleted statements on the page, highlighted with yellow marker, are the results you achieved during that position. The results are highlighted because that is what you really want to draw the reader’s attention toward – how you made a difference. Other candidates may have similar job descriptions and have held similar job titles, but your achievements will be what make you stand out.

In subsequent sections such as Affiliations or Technical Skills, you can simply list the information if it is the type of information suited for a list. Be careful not to get too long or too old with the information. Keep everything relevant.

Throughout your “binder” you should be consistent in how you design your elements. Headers should be consistent. Bullet lists should be consistent. Don’t double-bullet information (put a bullet statement within a bullet statement). Bullet lists should also not be too long. Keep the information organized so it flows logically and can be easily read or scanned quickly by a human reader. Organization can make all the difference between an effective resume and one that is difficult to decipher.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 /


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