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The HR Guru's Guide to Writing a Winning Resume

Updated on November 17, 2009

The HR Guru's Guide to Writing a Winning Resume - Part 1

With the unemployment rate soaring to record levels since the Great Depression, finding a job in this economy is proving to be a near insurmountable feat.

But having a competitive edge over other candidates takes persistence. While many have given up looking for a job altogether, there are those who keep their "nose to the grindstone" and continue to press on through the muck of the job search.

One key ingredient to finding your next job is having a good resume. What constitues a "good resume?" One which is visually appealing, contains great information and leaves an HR Manager wanting to know more. With 25 years in Human Resources you can bet that I have seen all types of resumes - good, bad, and really ugly! For an HR Manager, reading a good resume is like being given a thousand dollar gift card for a candy store. WOW!!!

It's More than Just Words on a Page
A good resume is more than just words on a page. A resume is a representation of YOU so your information needs to reflect your professional personality. Using current "buzz" words is key!

Before you begin to write your resume, before you put one word on a computer screen, gather basic information regarding your previous job(s). Basic information includes:

  • Dates of employment
  • Company/Employer's Name
  • Job title
  • Responsibilities
  • Accomplishments

This information is standard on a resume. If you don't have a job description for the position you held, you might want to search on one of the many job boards available on the internet and use some of the language found in the job postings. Just be sure the information is accurate.

Types of Resumes....Which One to Choose?
Depending on sevaral factors, choosing the right resume format is just as important as the information contained in the resume. The two most widely used resume formats are chronological and functional.

The chronological resume lists jobs in the order in which you held them, most recent first. This format lists the company name, dates of service, job title, and then shows the responsibilities and accomplishments. The majority of resumes I see when I recruit are chronological.

The functional resume breaks down responsibilities by function and lists company name, dates of service and job title in a separate category. Functional resumes are good to use when someone has had a long career with one company, or in one discipline. Personally, I use a functional resume because of my longevity in Human Resources.

The functional areas can be broken down as:

Administrative Experience
Computer/IT Experience
Communications Experience
Training and Development
Managerial Experience

and the list goes on. When you write a functional resume you focus on the type of experience rather than the employer for whom you gained that experience. For more specific information regarding writing a functional resume, search the web for functional resume writing assistance. There's some excellent information available on the Web.

Don't Lie to Me!
Before you put the first word on a page make up your mind that everything you write on your resume is going to be factual. If you lie on your resume you can bet that the HR Manager is going to find out! We are an extremely bright, savvy bunch of professionals, after all! All kidding aside, don't commit "career suicide" by lying on your resume. That includes lying about a high school or college degree. The temptation might be great but in this day and age where background checking and verifications of credentials is the norm, you don't want to lose what might be the perfect job because you lied on your resume or application.

During your interview you will be asked to explain your background and skills. You will be challenged regarding the information on your resume. An experienced hiring manager, especially one who has a similar background and skills, will know if you are uncertain or out-in-out lying or faking what you are saying so don't shoot yourself in the foot! Keep your resume factual, know what it says, and be ready to give examples of what you did and how you did it when it comes time to interview.

In Part 2 (coming soon!!) I'll explain how to format your resume to make it visually appealing, using the right action words and buzz words, and talk a little about references. See you in Part 2!!

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