Office Resources for Resume Building

By Nathan Strum

Writing resumes is a valuable skill. Although you will probably only have to write a few resumes in your life, they have a major impact on your career. Focusing on your future employer's needs is crucial when it comes to a resume: Every detail should demonstrate how you can help save money, make money, or achieve goals. At the top of your resume, underneath your contact information, include a "Qualification Summary" that shows your top credentials, awards, and achievements. Don't use that space on a "Goal Statement" that just focuses on your desire for a good job!

Cover Letters

Cover letters are very important. In just one page, you need to get a decision-maker excited about reading your resume. The cover letter should make it clear what role you are applying for and what your main qualifications are. If you have experience in similar roles, use a bullet list of three outstanding achievements to show how you have gone above and beyond for other employers. Help a reader understand what he or she gains by hiring you! A cover letter should be simple, focused, and should match the visual style of your resume.

Resume Styles

There are two major styles of resume: chronological and functional. Almost all resumes are written in chronological style; the resume starts with your current or most recent job and works backwards, listing roles going back about ten years. A functional resume is usually used when you are trying to get a job in a new industry. In a functional resume, you break down your resume into skill-based headings focused on the skills required for the new job. Then, you list your training or achievements in each skill area, even if they are "out of order."

Resume Templates

No matter what resume template you use, some parts of resume writing are always the same. For each role, begin with a brief description of your duties, but use bullets to highlight achievements. Achievements illustrate how you went "above and beyond" and made a positive impact on your employer. For example, if you were in sales, how many items did you sell daily? What was the total value? How did your record compare to others? Achievements are usually measurable in dollars or percentages. Make sure your template helps them stand out!

Sample Resumes

Sample resumes can help you understand what skills and terms are important in your field. Many large companies use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) programs to decide whether a resume should be reviewed by a real person. The ATS scans the text to make sure the right skills and credentials are mentioned, so using a sample resume from the role you want can be helpful. The job posting from your target role can also provide great clues; highlight the areas where your skills are a "perfect match" to the posting and focus on these in your resume.

Other Resources

For the best results, you should customize your resume to each job you apply for. Underneath your contact information, try a "Qualification Summary." Rather than listing your work history chronologically, you can list relevant skills and experience first. Some applicants actually place a table comparing the job description with their qualifications. It's important to use similar terminology so that Applicant Tracking Systems will take note of your resume. The more effort you put in to focusing your resume on what your future employer needs, the more likely you are to get the job you want!