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Making a great resume

Updated on February 9, 2014

I'm tired of working retail. But I have no degree.

Aright, lets face it, the economy is pretty much in a downward spiral lately and has no great signs of recovering right away. And there are more and more reports of college students coming out and having to settle for retail and part-time positions because they are having a hard time finding lucrative careers that work with their specific degrees. Not trying to bash retail or part-time work but the fact is the majority of positions available in these respective fields do not offer many if any benefits or the kind of pay to really live the kind of life you want.

Thus, something has to give if you are looking for better than this. Thankfully there are still some businesses out there in that magical place called CAREER-LAND that are hiring in droves. Now most of these positions require or have a listed preference of a Bachelor's degree. The good news is there are some very specific and beneficial steps that you can take to alleviate concerns about never having become a collegiate giant in your own right.

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We all would love an office like this.
We all would love an office like this. | Source

Arm yourself for the Hunt!

Whether you've had quite a few jobs or you're graduating from college and just beginning your search, you need to arm yourself properly for The Hunt. Now remember, jobs can be quite the elusive creatures depending on the ones you're hunting for and you definitely want to have the appropriate choice of equipment before you begin. You wouldn't go bear-hunting with a Glock pistol for example, you would use a Winchester rifle.

If you need some help in prepping, you could always turn to the Résumés for Dummies guide which will offer step by step insight into crafting your résumé. It will help to give you the depth of what you need while keeping it basic, understandable, and relevant to the task at hand.

If you are struggling with grammar or how to write something engaging to read, try reading this book, Writing tools: 50 essential strategies for every writer. This is a tool that can help clear up some of the confusion and also be a way of arming you in terms of your writing ability.

Now admittedly, this will require some hard work and time but remember nothing worthwhile was ever easily accomplished. The task at hand seems daunting but if you will commit yourself to being strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) I can promise that the steps you take will give you direction and help you to accomplish some of your goals.

Brushstrokes of the sky.
Brushstrokes of the sky. | Source

The art of the résumé.

Here is maybe the most controversial topic we will tackle together, the résumé.

First before we start, I want to go ahead and tell you now that I am not an employer nor do I claim to be an expert but I have friends of mine who are and I've also been to 'How to Ace your Interview seminars' and spoken to enough hiring managers and career recruiters to understand what many of them look for in a résumé. I took it seriously, put it into practice, and began to see results almost immediately. And my heart and purpose is to share the winning advice I received with those who are still struggling on where to begin.

A masterpiece in the making.

Now the reason I say that a résumé is art is because, just like art, there are a variety of different types. Also, just as art has to be creative enough to catch your eye, a résumé has to do the same for an employer. As the old saying goes, "everyone's a critic." To give you an example of what i mean by this, the majority of hiring managers say that the average amount of time they spend on a resume is about 8 seconds. 8 Seconds! The reason for this is that they usually have so many people applying that they simply dont have the time to peruse the entire thing with a cup of coffee in hand like they're reading the newspaper. If it doesn't catch them right away, then into the trash it goes. The résumé is probably the best first impression you make. If you don't give these people a reason to want to speak to you in an interview based on your résumé then you can usually forget about that particular business giving you a jingle altogether.

Here are some basic steps to start with:

1. Don't fudge the facts. This may sound elementary but lying has been around since the Big Man upstairs spoke the earth into being. The hiring managers I've spoken to have received awesome resumes with amazing "qualifications" until they get to the interview. More than likely, if your résumé seems too good to be true, you will be challenged on it in the interview. You can add admirable qualities about yourself without fluffing it up. Managers are looking for people with integrity and character. Lying will only get you so far until you are found out. So for all intents and purposes it is definitely not the route you want to go. To paraphrase the poet Robert Frost, "Take the road less traveled."

2. "Showcase yourself!" One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was that simple phrase. What does that mean? Well, before I was told this, I was prone to putting very general statements in my job duties section. To give you an example, "Provided knowledgeable customer assistance, troubleshooting, and sales of Apple and Windows computers." What's wrong with that statement? IT'S BORING! It's a general blanket statement. It doesn't showcase anything about me except that I help customers. What is the result of the help I had given? How did I benefit the business I worked for in specific ways? How about putting it another way, "Asked for by name because amazing customer service created repeat customer base of more than 50 people. " Now can you see how that helped the business? It created customer loyalty to them based on my performance. Anybody can help someone, not everyone can keep people coming back for more . By the time you finish listing your job duties your résumé should remind them of a Price is Right girl and you are the prize that they are about to win!

3. Tailor your résumé to career applied for. Let's pretend I'm applying for a job in the IT department of some major corporation and the job requirements are knowledge of networking, computer repair, software fixes, etc. Now lets pretend that under the relevant skills section of my résumé I didnt list a single thing that had to do with IT work or computers at all. Remember the 8 seconds rule I mentioned before? My résumé would be thrown away in about half that time. List whatever relevant skills you have and tailor it to the position applied for. Doing this also earns you points as the hiring manager sees that you took the time to research what the position requires, that you care enough about the company to take it seriously, and are aware of the expectations coming in. Don't make something up but be honest with yourself about what you are capable of and go from there. Try to list no less than 3 or 4 relevant skills.

4. Re-write your résumé multiple times until it is perfect. For me, the first few times I finish typing up a résumé are considered practice rounds. I have on average made practical changes to a résumé at least 4 or 5 times before I'm satisfied and even then I'm not completely satisfied but there has to be a stopping point sometime. I then have friends and family proofread it to get opinions and to check spelling, spacing, and grammar. The nice thing about this step in particular is that it works with step 3 in that you can then use your foundational résumé to tailor it to the multiple positions you may be applying for. I have had at one time 3 separate resumes for 3 separate businesses and positions I applied for. I just made the minor adjustments necessary given the positional requirements. Make it comfortable to work with and easy to change when needed.

5. Structure your résumé to "jack-in-the-box" the recruiter/hiring manager. I have gotten questions recently about how the structure of a résumé should be. What goes where, What needs to be left out, what to include, etc. This is one area that people in general are bound to disagree on and I could just play it safe and pander to everyone.....but I'm not going to. Let's put it this way, at one time my résumé was 3 pages long and read like you would read a cleanliness checklist on the bathroom door of a Target store. It didn't jump out and wow anyone. In the realm of résumé writing, it is ideal that you write a short story, not a novel. Make sure your masterpiece is no more than 2 pages max . I took a friend's advice (this person was majoring in business management) and actually scaled back my 3 page monstrosity to a 1 page delight. As Steve Jobs would say, "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!"

Here is the simple layout that's worked for me:

  • An eye-catching Header, complete with name, phone number, address, and email.
  • Relevant skills, 3-4 at least.
  • Your work experience. If it spans more than 5 to 10 years in multiple jobs, just list the most relevant experience. As a recruiter told me, "I don't need a history lesson, that's what the application is for."
  • Any volunteer experience in community service or anything of that nature. (If any).
  • School experience if any. (No high school information necessary, unless requested).
  • Any specific awards or honors you've received. (From a job or otherwise.)

Triumphant in the end.
Triumphant in the end. | Source


Now that you have written your winning résumé, here are some absolute essentials to remember before you actually give it to an employer:

  1. Make sure it is formatted properly. (Spacing, margins, etc.)
  2. Pretend you are the employer being handed this. Is it worth your time to read it?
  3. Be confident about what you have put. If you're not, then you may want to revise a bit.
  4. Cover letters are only necessary if requested. (Several recruiters have told me this.)


Guys, I really want to see you succeed. It's not easy, but I pray your work produces some good fruit in this!

It's definitely not an exhaustive list but this should get you well on your way to getting the job that you want. I will be putting out another hub sometime soon on the interview process. In the meantime, get out there, be confident and take the hiring world by the horns!


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    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thank you Jean, and welcome to my page by the way! I appreciate hearing from someone who is basically an expert in this field letting me know I did a good job. I definitely took a lot of time with my experience and then also researched anything else I didn't know. It's a hard business world out there these days and people need to be prepared. Thanks so much for dropping in!

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

      This is excellent advice. I often write resumes for people when I'm low on cash. Or when my son and his friends were at the age where they were graduating from college or ready to look for a serious job, and I saw how pathetic their resumes were, I rewrote a few of them. One page is usually all a person wants to read. If you like, it can be 2 pages, if the first one outlines your main qualifications and the second gives the specific companies, organizations, and contact for the info you gave so they can check on it. It is hard to "sell" yourself, so it helps to have a good friend build up your confidence as you describe how talented you are. And definitely add in all your philanthropic deeds or anything that makes you look good. Mention what a great team player you are, even if you aren't! You have it covered.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Sorry you didn't find it sooner bridal letter. I've been to the school of hard knocks in terms of learning this so don't be too hard on yourself. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks so much Rajan, I aim to please my brother!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 5 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      I found out my resume was too technical (more based on my prior employment) rather than for the career I was applying for, paralegal. You truly have to customize it towards the job you are applying for. I have 3 different resumes now. Very useful tips, I wish I would have found the hub a few weeks earlier.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very useful and interesting pointers here Kas. This should help many make a better resume, one that works.

      voted up and sharing.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks billy, frankly I'm a bit overwhelmed. This is the second one I have been nominated for and actually won......two weeks straight now. I got on here to hone my writing skills, I honestly wasn't sure how well I was doing until they started sending me the award voting emails. I appreciate everyone's support and advice. I couldn't do this or win anything without you! Appreciate the comment billy, keep plugging away man, it's a new year!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Congratulations on winning the award...well done my friend!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Truth, most employers want to see the walking, living résumé! They absolutely care about both, but more about the person and their character. Thanks for the comment, happy New Years!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, the resume should be simple, but stand out indeed. Too often, we try to wow prospective employers with the great resume only to find that they don't pay attention if it is TOO detailed. Wonderful advice, Kasman!!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Absolutely Alocsin. Thank you for your insight because there never is what I would call a "perfect list" for this. It requires many different points of view to craft it as useful as possible. I appreciate your comment.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'd like to add that you shouldn't just tailor the resume for the career but also for the company. That way, the recruiter or HR person knows that you're interested in working for their company. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thank you Mary. I know, the job market has been very difficult to get into lately for a lot of people. A friend of mine who works for Apple recently told me that they were holding a hiring seminar and they would take 30 to 40 people a time because they received 1200 applicants for 6 positions to fill. It's absolutely insane out there right now. I will pray for your daughter that God will find her work.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Very informative Hub. Thank God I don't have to pound the pavement looking for work anymore: I'm retired. I have a daughter who graduated with a B.S. and it has taken her almost a year to land a job. She said she sent out about 200 resumes.

      Welcome to HubPages, glad to have you with us. Mary

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thank you very much tammyswallow. I have been told in the past that I have a decent writing style so I wanted to try it out in a different venue than Facebook. I would like help as I go along as I have no idea what I'm doing on here except giving out advice and opinions from personal experience. I am researching quite a bit trying to acclimate to this new website and so far I have thoroughly enjoyed it. God bless and thanks a lot.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! This is an excellent, comprehensive look at how to stand out in the employment arena. This is great, especially for a first hub! Welcome to Hubpages. This is a wonderful community. If you ever need anything, we are all here to help. Great to meet you!