How to Make Your First Resume

A resume is basically just a fancy version of a job application. Instead of you filling in boxes on an application with your work history and availability, you can provide that information on a professional-looking resume.

Making your first resume can be a bit confusing but it's really easier than you would think. Resumes are pretty much a necessity in today's business world and only a small portion of employers provide their own applications to be filled out.

Resumes come in all different styles and types, and it all boils down to preference when it comes to those things.

Design Layout
If you're going to design your own resume and create it from scratch, then it's basically going to be around 1 to 4 pages long. The typical resume is only 1 page long, and it's been suggested that employers prefer smaller ones that are concise and easy to read, but ones that have a few more pages are not unheard of.

Sometimes you can't just fit everything on 1 page, no matter how much you try to summarize. If you've had a lot of relevant employers over the past 7 years or a lot of certificates or education, than it will be difficult and probably unnecessary for you to shorten things down so much when trying to fit everything onto one page.

Four pages is a bit much, so at least try to keep things down to two pages if possible.

Cover Page
A cover page is just basically the main page of a resume that employers will see first, if choose to use one. It's a page that sums up who you are as a person and what your career goals and objectives are, along with a quick rundown of what type of experience you have.

The use of a cover page is usually optional, but some employers won't accept resumes without a cover page (though they'll usually let you know in the job posting that they require a cover page). It's common for people to not use cover pages unless a job posting specifically lists the requirement for one.

Sometimes people combine the cover page with the other pages, by giving a quick summary of themselves and their accomplishments at the top of the first page, while filling the rest of the first page with employment information.

That employment information would typically be on the second page, if a real cover page was used as the main first page.

Contact Information
This is the most important section of the resume, because without it, prospective employers have no way of getting in touch with you. Your name, address, and phone number are the three key things you need for your contact information.

Other things such as an email address are more optional and not required. If an employer wants to contact you and setup an interview, they need to know your name so they can ask for you when they call.

They need your phone number so they can call, and they need your address to send you documents. Some employers send out things like drug test consent forms, which need to be signed and returned before any interviews.

Though this isn't common, it can and does happen, so make sure that your address listed is correct or somewhere that you can check your mail on a regular basis.

This whole section is usually located on the cover page or at the top of the first page, above the employment history section. Some people include it on every page of the resume, so if any of the other pages become detached, employers can still tell who's resume the detached pages came from.

Employment History
The main part of a resume, the most important part aside from contact information, is the employment history section. This is the area where you can show employers what companies you've worked for in the past or what type of work you have experience in doing.

For this section, you'll want to list your past employer's name, the dates you worked there, your supervisor or manager's name and job title as well as a contact phone number for them, your hourly wage or salary (not always necessary to list), your duties or things you did while on that job, the address, and the reason you left the job.

Start with your most recent employer, at the top of the page, and follow with the next most recent after that. Most people only list about 5 to 7 years worth of employment history, because it helps keep the resume's size down so it can be scanned over quickly by employers.

Just make sure that all the phone numbers for your previous supervisors or managers are correct, because these are the numbers that will probably be checked during any background checks for employment.

Use Free Templates
If you don't feel like building your own resume from scratch or are inexperienced with it, than your best bet is to download a resume template from the internet. There's thousands of websites with free templates available. With a template, everything is formatted and filled out already like as if it's someone else's resume or a job application.

All you have to do is fill in your own information for each area on the template. This is definitely the most common way that people build resumes, since hardly anyone actually creates them from scratch nowadays. For really fancy-looking ones, you may have to pay a small fee to use or download them, depending on the website.

But the vast majority of templates out there are completely free and in MS Word format. There's really no downsides to using templates either so you might as well do it unless you're really good with designing your own.

By designing your own template, you stand out from the crowd and have something unique that nobody else has. But at the same time, there's so many templates out there on the internet that the chances of two people both sending in resumes with the same template is highly unlikely.

Not all resumes have a skills section, and it's completely up to you if you want to add one. Usually, this type of section would be used to list all the skills you have that would be related to whatever job you're applying for.

You can list all your skills in a straightforward manner, by listing one after another, or you could get more fancy with it and separate the skills by what type of category they would fall under.

For example, let's say you're going to apply for a customer service position that involves a lot of typing and clerical work in a warehouse. You could list your warehouse skills separately from your office skills.

This may be overdoing it, but it can also help the person viewing your resume to skim through it quickly and focus on the skills that are most relevant to what they're looking for. In addition to listing your skills, you could mention which skills you're certified in, and even attach the certificates or degrees if you'd like.

This is not necessary or even common, but some people prefer to do it in an attempt to impress employers and show them that they're the "real deal". The skills section itself may not be necessary either, but it can be helpful in showing off what you're skilled in, if the previous jobs you held didn't utilize those skills.

The Education section is pretty much self explanatory, as it's where you would list all your educational experience and degrees or diplomas held. In most cases, you shouldn't list any education that came before high school, and it's not necessary to list your high school if you went to college or a university.

Trade schools or specialty schools should definitely be listed, and if you'd like, you can mention extracurricular programs as well. When listing any schools, you should put the name of the school, the address, phone number to the main office there, degree, certificate, diploma, or G.E.D. earned, and the date you graduated.

If you never finished or graduated, then you can put the dates you attended instead of the dates you graduated, and leave out the part pertaining to degree earned.

The references section is very important to your resume because it adds credibility to who you are as a person or as a professional worker. References are basically just people who will vouch for you and speak to anybody who calls them by saying good things about you as a former employee of theirs or they will at least confirm the dates you worked for them.

There's two types of references that most employers expect you to list: Business references and personal ones. Business references are the most common and the ones you should automatically list unless a hiring ad states otherwise.

These are the ones I mentioned already who will vouch for you and the dates you worked for them. When listing business references, you'll want to list about 5 of them if you can, but 3 is the absolute minimum.

These can be supervisors, managers, or even coworkers if you're unable to list supervisors or managers. You should always put managers first, since what they say holds the most weight and credibility, followed by supervisors if you're unable to list managers.

You'll want to list their name, the title they hold on their job, a contact phone number for them, and how many years you've known them or worked for them. You can go back as far as you want into your past when it comes to references, but you'll usually want to list those that you worked for the most or for the longest duration, regardless of how long ago it was that you worked for them.

If you don't have at least 3 business references that you can list, then you can just forget about adding a references section to your resume since it would look strange with only 1 or 2 people listed.

Sometimes an employer may specifically ask for personal references instead of business ones, and in this case, you'd list 3 or more people that you personally know. You'll want to keep it somewhere in the range of 3 to 5, as too many is overkill.

With personal ones, you should list their name, their personal phone number, their occupation, and how many years you've known them. It's best to only list those that you've known for at least one year or longer, and the longer the better.

Try to choose personal references that you've known a long time, that work a respectable occupation, and that will be willing to answer their phone and say good things about you if someone does call them.

Correct Format
You'll also want to make sure that your resume is in the correct format if you're sending it through email or uploading it to various websites. This is step is just as important as designing the resume itself because if it's in the wrong format, nobody will be able to read read or view it. You want to make things easy on the employers you're sending it to, so you make a good impression. The most common format that they prefer is as a Microsoft Word Document, which is usually .doc and .docx.

Also, make sure you don't mistake Wordpad for Microsoft Word. They are two completely different programs and the documents for each program are different. If you don't have Microsoft Word on your computer, there's plenty of free programs out there that can save documents in MS Word format, if you don't want to purchase it.

Open Office is a great freeware program and the suite version usually comes with Writer, which is almost identical to Microsoft Word and can save documents as MS Word docs.

While Word is the most popular format that most companies will ask you to send them, sometimes there's the rare employer who will actually ask for a different type of format like .txt or even Wordpad.

It's usually only very small companies that will do this, because they don't have MS Word on their computer and don't know about free programs like Open Office.

But again, this is very rare and you should always just keep your resume somewhere on your computer as a Word document since this is what you will be sending to the vast majority of companies that are hiring.

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