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The Ultimate Resume Writing Guide for 2024: It's Like Building A House

The Ultimate Resume Writing Guide for 2024: It's Like Building A House

If you've ever been involved in a housing project, you know that building a house is HARD WORK. Not only that, but it's hard work that needs to be done in the right order. Crafting your resume is no different.

Often, people come to me for resume writing tips, hoping to start by polishing their final document. But that is actually the WRONG approach. Your resume is like the roof on a house; it should be the very last step in preparing one of the most important tools in your career journey.

Let's start building the ultimate resume writing guide by working backwards to ensure you haven't missed a critical step, using my 'let's build a house' analogy. If you want a rock solid resume, it is critical you follow these essential steps to build a resume that is intentional, purposeful and demonstrates your talents best.

Step One:

The Foundation - Define Your Goals and Values

The first step in every building project is the foundation. Without a good foundation, you can't trust the rest of your project to stand on its own.

The same goes with trying to write your resume without first defining your goals and values. Without doing the groundwork, you can’t build a good resume. The foundation of your resume is built on answering a few important questions.

The most important questions to answer before writing your resume:
  • What skills do you want to showcase? 

  • What accomplishments are most important to you?

  • What strengths are you trying to display?

  • What values should be present?

Once you answer these questions, you have a clear picture of what your resume should look like. Repeat this step before every resume you submit, even if you have one already. This will help you tailor your resume for the specific job you're trying to target.

Step Two:

Build the Frame – Create Your Career Summary

Once you build the foundation, it's time to add the frame. Your frame gives shape to your foundation, moving the more abstract ideas you had during the foundation into something tangible.

During this second phase, it’s important to think about:

  1. Which jobs you are targeting?

  2. Which industries should you be reading up on?

  3. What companies should you be researching?

Use this second phase as a research phase and create a clear picture of what you’ll need to include in your resume to break into your dream industry or even continue in a familiar one.

Use that information to choose which industries or descriptors you should call attention to in your career summary. Remember, for most industries and professions, resumes should not be more than two pages. So if you have a lot of experience, you should be showcasing your job highlights/accomplishments that will most resonate with your target industry.

Step Three:

Fit The Windows and Doors – List Your Responsibilities

Windows and doors are great, you need plenty of them. But there IS a limit. There are only so many doors and windows that are necessary.

The same is true of your key responsibilities. When listing key responsibilities from each job, there are only so many you can include. You shouldn’t just regurgitate every daily task you ever had to do in that job. Instead, choose the top 4-6 projects and/or key accomplishments and the ways in which you made an impact or the results you produced.

Employers don’t want to know what you DID. You should be listing what you’ve ACCOMPLISHED- how you added value and problems you solved.

Step Four:

Insulate. Fill In The Gaps

Insulation might not be the most glamorous step, but without it, you’ll have some spaces in your project that might leave you out in the cold. In step four, you’re filling in those spaces.

Check all your job titles to make sure they’re accurate. Spell check all the companies and towns listed. Make sure any addresses you’ve added are correct. Label each role with the correct month and year, and make sure there are no unexplained gaps in your resume. For instance, if you've taken a career break for some reason, you may want to note that within your resume; however, that is a personal decision.

Step Five:

Your Resume is Your Roof.

When you’re building a house, the roof goes on last. When you’re creating a resume, creating the document you’ll be submitting should be the last step. Your final resume is your roof.

In this last step, confirm that you’ve done the previous four steps correctly.

Check that you have the right content and the right format. Check that you have a good balance of white space and use a professional font (my favorite is Arial). Ensure all of your accomplishment statements utilize active verbs – avoid using the passive voice.

Finally consider if you’re using the right resume format. Here are the two most common:

  • Chronological resume: the most common type of resume, lists all of your accomplishments from most recent to least recent by most current job and then walking backwards through your work history.

  • Functional (or topical) resume: organizes all your accomplishments by function, putting them into groups by job or skill type. Then, list all employer names, job titles and dates in the Employer section.

Hopefully this resume writing guide was helpful to you all - if you have questions, share them in the comments below!

Ready to stop floating through your job, your days, your week?  Been wanting to level up your career or figure your next move?  We offer a free informational strategy session for anyone curious about how Career Development Advisors can help them own their career.


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