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Writing Your Resume - Guidelines

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Resume preparation begins with three steps:

  1. Assessing your skills and abilities.
  2. Researching your potential career fields and employers.
  3. Blending the result of the previous steps into one cohesive, persuasive, and attractive statement demonstrating the contributions you could make to your future employer.

Skills Assessment

The first step is to determine what skills and qualifications you possess, and what you have done in the past that illustrates you possess those skills and qualifications. When attempting to do this, many of us immediately look at our past work history and only consider the skills we acquired from that experience. While your previous work experience is one area in which you have developed your skills, it is not the only area. You may have also had an internship, volunteer experience, spent time overseas, or been involved in an organization on-campus or off-campus that allowed you to develop transferable skills that are applicable to your future employment.

Researching the Career Field

The second step is to determine what skills and qualifications your potential employer is seeking. A good place to start is the Career Library, which contains numerous books and collections of articles that provide helpful overviews of various career fields.

The next and often most helpful resource are people who are working in the field you are considering entering; often referred to as informational interviewing. Speaking with such people can give you real world practical insights into the kinds of skills and abilities employers desire to see in their job applicants. The ACE network in Career Services can assist you in contacting people in your chosen field(s). You can find out more about informational interviewing in the Career Library or through our handout.

In addition, you can gather information about your career field through organizational literature, often made available to prospective employees. This includes annual reports, employer recruiting literature, job descriptions, and want-ads.

Relating Your Skills

The final step is to bring together the information you have gathered about your chosen career field with the information you have gathered about yourself. Look at what skills and abilities the employer is seeking and match those with your previous experiences that best indicate you possess those skills. Those experiences that best illustrate you possess the required skills and abilities are the experiences that must appear prominently on your resume.

Upon completion of these three steps, you are through what many people feel is the most difficult part of writing a resume. From here on out it is just a matter of presenting this information in an easy to read format.

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