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You might have heard that there are more jobs than workers right now and that this is an employees’ market. Maybe you’ve looked at some jobs and realize you need to update your resume. Or maybe you are just entering the workforce for the first time and aren’t sure exactly what a resume is or how to set one up.

Never fear. Here are a few tips to help you give your resume a nice polish and give you the best shot at that new job you want to land.

What is a Resume?
Most people think of a resume as a sort of mini biography of your working life. And to an extent, it can be that. However, there are more useful ways to look at your resume. Your resume should be thought of as a brochure that explains why you are the right person for the job you’ve applied for. Rather than focusing on you and what you’ve done, focus instead on what your employer is looking for and how you meet those needs.

How should I organize my resume?
Traditionally, people organize their resumes chronologically. But chances are there is already a structure for your resume that will make it more meaningful to your prospective employer. That structure is the job description provided by the employer, themselves. When you structure your resume as a response to the expectations and needs as outlined in the job description, then you make it easy for the employer to visualize your success in that role.

So, if the job description lists responsibilities like leadership, then one section of your resume ought to be something like this:

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE
–General Manager, MegaHotelChain……. 5 yrs
–Corporate Trainer, MegaHotelChain……. 2 yrs
–Creative Team Lead, FastCarMaker account, CleverAdAgency…. 18 mos.

If the job description lists Welding… do the same

WELDING/METALWORK
–Welder III, BigMachineMfg… 3 yrs
–Welder II, ChucksMachineShop & BigMachineMfg… 6yrs
–Production Trainee, ChucksMachineShop… 18 mos
–MIG Welder Cert.
–TIG Welder Cert.
–Structural and Pressure Vessel Cert.

This tells your employer much more about how your experience applies directly to the job than listing your employment history and all of the duties you performed in each position.

What should I include in my resume?
What you include in your resume depends largely on how long you’ve been in the workforce. If you have more than 7-10 years of experience, then you can outline specific experience and skills you have gained on the job and how you have solved problems and succeeded in projects that relate to the skills and thinking that will help you succeed in this new role.

If you have fewer than 7-10 years of experience, then you should take soft skills, such as teamwork, organization and problem solving that you have developed through work, school, organizations and other activities and how you can apply them to the expectations of the job descriptions. Don’t be afraid to talk about what you want to get out of the job, beyond just the paycheck. How you think the job could help you make more of yourself.

Can I leave stuff out of my resume?
In a word, yes. When you go in to apply, or to fill out your paperwork when you get the job, you will be asked to fill out a comprehensive job history. But that’s not the role of your resume. Your resume should rarely be more than one page…and the whole point should be to show that you are a perfect fit to fill this job.

How many resumes do I need?
If you’re organizing your resume around the job description provided by the employer, then you ought to tailor your resume to each job. But that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch each time. Pick two or three general jobs or job categories you think you would like, and create a resume template for each. Then, when you apply for a job in one of those areas, take that template and tweak it to specifically speak to that job.

Summary:
When composing your resume, here are a few basic steps to follow. First, read the job description for the position to which you’re applying. Write your resume so it answers the questions implicit in the job description. Be truthful in crafting your answers, but be descriptive. Remember, this resume isn’t really about you… it’s about how this position is a you-sized hole in the company, and no one else will fill it better.