I haven’t written a resume in 20 years, and I don’t know how to start. What’s the best approach to writing a resume?

Resume writing is a scary thing. A women’s group that I wanted to join asked me for a resume, and I couldn’t get past a half a page! (I changed my mind about joining.)  And I have rewritten candidate’s resumes for years and years! It was then when I realized that there had to be a better and easier approach. First, remember that it doesn’t have to be clever or fancy. You don’t need your picture or odd colored paper. Plain paper with your name and contact information on the top is best. Under your name add a Summary, telling the reader exactly what you want them to know about you in two or three sentences. This probably is the most important part of the resume.  It is the first thing the reader reads, as it is on the top third of the page. Remember, the person first reading your resume is not necessarily a scientist or hiring manager. Usually it will be someone in human resources who doesn’t quite know what the hiring manager might need, but he/she wants to be diligent about finding good candidates. Your Summary needs to get the attention of the reader enough that they are interested in reading further. It’s the WOW.  It should include your technical skills, leadership skills, personal skills. So, for example, if you are a Director of R&D, start with “Results oriented leader of research teams in the bakery and confectionery industry.” “PhD Food scientist with 10 years of experience developing award winning frozen food products” You’ve just told the reader what you do, in what industry, and that you are successful. Add other descriptions of yourself that you may not be able to include in the body of the resume, i.e., project management, developing teams, creating new products Next is Experience. The name of the company, your title, and the years you have been with the company go first. After that, bullet point the balance of this section, starting with an action verb. This section should not read like your job description, it should read as a list of accomplishments. Ask yourself what you have contributed to your employer and sell what you have done. Do this with each job you have had. End with your Education, listing your most recent degree first. Certifications go under your degrees. Keep the resume to 2, maybe 3 pages, but no more. Patents and publications should be listed on a separate document. See how easy that was?! 😊

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