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Square One: Create a resume

It’s time to write your resume, and like most, you may cringe at the very thought of it.

Experience’s guide through the resume process–starting from square one.

The day has finally arrived. The fun and games are over, and it’s time to get serious. It’s time to write your resume, and like most, you may cringe at the very thought of it. While dread is a natural reaction, creating a successful resume is not as hard as it seems. If you are starting from square one, our guide takes you through the process, step by step. It also includes many helpful hints for resumes in need of revision. Don’t forget to check with your school’s career center  too. They can provide you with resume assistance as well.

1. Assemble the building blocks
Whether you start with a blank screen or a piece of paper, the first step is to list your experience. Include summer and part-time jobs, as well as internships. List your responsibilities for each job and the skills you used. It is also helpful to give specific examples of on-the-job accomplishments. Next, make a list of other information that you may use, such as education, general skills, awards, affiliations, and hobbies.

2. Think creatively
Be creative (but truthful) about your credentials. If you produce short films with your friends, volunteer with the Big Brother Association, or compete in triathlons, the implied attributes of creativity, responsibility, and perseverance strengthen your position. Add these ideas to your list of resume information.

3. Write a draft
Don’t be discouraged by your first draft. It might not be worthy of a blue ribbon yet, but it will give you something to work with. Don’t worry about length at this point, just write. Editing comes later in the process.

4. Select a structure
Once you have a draft, the best format may become obvious. Pick the one that works with your background, skills and experience.

5. Show it around
Give a copy to two or three people. Ask them to read your resume, making note of any comments or suggestions. A parent, career counselor, and a working professional, especially in your area of interest, are good candidates for the task.

6. Revise
Take into account all of the corrections, comments, suggestions, and ideas you have gathered. Then write a new and improved version.

7. Translate
Translate your draft into effective resume language. Use appropriate action verbs (“organized,” “authored,” “programmed”) and keywords (“innovative,” “communication skills,” “detail minded”). Write a summary of keywords that are appropriate for your resume.

8. Keep it brief
Use concise language and descriptions, and keep it to one page. If you need more space, experiment with margins and layout–but be sure to follow guidelines if you are creating an electronic resume.

9. Tailor
Create different resumes for different jobs or job types. Focus on your skills and experiences that are most relevant to the industry. You can also add an industry-specific “Objective.” Try to include industry buzzwords where appropriate, but don’t overdo it.

10. Proofread
Typos are the kiss of death. Run a spelling check and proofread carefully. Then proofread some more, until it makes you crazy. After that, give copies to your friends, family, and neighbors, to proofread until it makes them crazy.

11. Keep it current
Update, upgrade, and upkeep your resume diligently. You never know when the opportunity of your dreams will present itself, so be prepared with a stellar resume in hand.