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Resume Building: What Employers Want

Feb 23 2016

Resume Building: What Employers Want
Courtesy of “Olu Eletu” from
Let’s pretend that you’re just getting out of college. You’ve never had to write a professional resume before, and you have no idea what your potential employers are looking for. Should you construct a resume that speaks specifically to your field, or should it be more general? Should you take this opportunity to list off everything you’ve ever done, or should you keep it brief and succinct? Check, if you can write your resume well.

Making a resume (especially your first, official resume) can be challenging. The first time around, you’re establishing a basis for how you want to represent yourself in the future. You might have multiple versions of your resume to work with, or you might have one specific resume that you alter and tweak until you retire. It’s all about strategy, placement, and forethought.

If you’re reading this article, you’ve already supplied the forethought. You’re thinking ahead, and that’s a very good sign. So, to help you with strategy and placement, we’re going to talk about the five things you absolutely need to include in your resume. I should probably add that, if it’s a really good resume, it should probably consist of only these five. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience. A few, quality items are better than many, small items.

Keeping that in mind, let’s get started.

1. Well-Conceived Summaries

The first section of your resume should be a brief, interesting summary about yourself. For example, my resume might say something along the lines of, “Multi-media journalist and professional resume writer, with a background in social media marketing, communication, reporting, writing, and blogging. Specializing in editorials, news stories, and entertainment pieces told in a clear, concise manner.”

You’re painting a professional image of yourself, while explaining what you do. And, yes, this should cater toward the career path you want to pursue. Assuming you’ve gone a trade school and college studying something specific, now is the time to showcase that education.

After your summary, you might include a list of highlights. These should be bullet points that, in five words or less, describe your strengths.

2. Employment Experience

This includes anything you’ve done that lines up with your line of work. Unless you have almost nothing else to include in your resume, this shouldn’t include the dog-sitting business you ran as a teenager. This needs to show your professional experience.

This is also where you’re going to start “formatting your words”. Keep in mind that this is very different than lying. You should never, ever lie on your resume. But, as you start writing, you’ll learn how to make your experiences sound every bit as impressive and interesting as they were.

For example:

“I run my own blog.”

This is very different from:

“Owner and Founder of Misadventures in the Mitten, a popular blog created in July of 2014 with over 500 followers, 40K views, and 150 posts.”

I’m literally just pulling examples from my resume at this point, but you get the picture. Your job is to make your work sound professional, engaging, and interesting. You have more experience than you think you do, I promise.

3. Contact Information

Far too many resume creators forget to include their basic contact information (and this includes contact information for their references). For anyone on your resume that can be contacted, you need to include a personal phone number and an email. You should also include your address.

Your contact information should be located at the very top of your resume. The contact information of your references should be located at the very bottom. It’s your way of saying, “Hey, if you’re interested in learning more, this is who you can call.”

4. Skills, Talents, and Accomplishments

I would say, without a doubt, that this section is the most difficult to write. I doubt that you think about your skills and talents on a regular basis. You could probably sit in front of your computer for two hours and fail to think of them all.

I’ll give you a few ideas to help you along. You can break this section into subparts. Mine is problem up into “Journalism”, “Academics”, and “Leadership”. Yours can be broken up into “Music”, “Finance”, and “Directing”. It doesn’t matter, as long as you manage to talk about everything.

After breaking the section up, try to brainstorm accomplishments for each one. Again, you need to “format your words”. Make your resume build you up. You don’t want to sound mediocre.

5. Educational History

And then, there’s the final required section. You need to include your educational history. You don’t need to include accomplishments or additional information about each school you attended. Once you’ve graduated college, you don’t need to include high school.

Just list your most recent school and add your major, minor, and year of graduation. Employers want to know where you learned your stuff.

Keeping these five components in mind, you can create a unique resume that helps you stand out. After all, isn’t that the point?