How to Create Your First Resume

Creating a resumé for the first time can be just a little bit daunting.  Where to even begin is probably what throws students off the most.  There are a lot of things to take into consideration, such as what format to use, what information to include, what order to put that information in, etc.  Well, it is actually quite simple.  The best way to approach putting together a resumé is by understanding its main purpose – to represent your professional self in the absolute best way possible.  This is an extremely detailed elevator speech put on paper meant to convince any employer that you are the top candidate.

Let’s get the most intimidating task over with – choosing and using a particular format.  Thankfully with a quick Google search, the internet will bring you tons of options for different resumé templates that you can easily download and apply to your own document – or just re-create on your own, depending on how complex they may or may not be.  Now, which one do you choose?  In the long run, this particular choice won’t make much of a difference either way.  It just depends which style you find most aesthetically pleasing and which organizational form you wish to use.  Just make sure you thoroughly look through the various options so you are aware of all that is out there before you settle on one format.

Once you have a format set up, all you need to do is fill in the blanks.  First, it is important that you understand exactly what employers want to know about their applicants.  It’s a give-in that they want to know about your past experience, but it’s the details you include about that experience that set you apart.  For instance, when you list the responsibilities you held at a past job, go a step further and get into specifics with those duties.  Instead of saying you performed sales transactions, state how many transactions you performed each day.  Or instead of saying you helped solve customers’ problems, give examples of the kinds of problems you dealt with.  Additionally, be sure to include any other significant accomplishments or honors that existed outside of one of these jobs you will be listing.  Give as clear an image as possible of everything you are capable of.  Never sell yourself short because this resumé is usually the first opportunity employers have to learn about you and it can either make or break whether you move on to the next step.

Most importantly, tailor this resumé to your intended profession.  If you’re applying for a journalism job, dedicate a whole section to your journalism experience separate from different positions you may have previously held.  Still include those positions if they showcase your talent, but don’t make them the main priority.  It is critical that you highlight your proficiency in the skills necessary for the field you wish to work in, or else employers will assume you are sending a generalized resumé to multiple jobs in all kinds of different professions and therefore don’t really care about the work they specifically do.

Bottom line: design the document so that your name and headline have a strong presence, your most important skills are appropriately showcased, and the employer in question feels you are passionate about their particular type of work.  Nail all these points and you’ll have a very well-polished paper representation of your professional self.