Where to start

Resumes and application forms are two ways to achieve the same goal: To give the employer written evidence of your qualifications. When creating a resume or completing an application form, you need two different kinds of information: Facts about yourself and facts about the job you want. With this information in hand, you can present the facts about yourself in terms of the job. You have more freedom with a resume–you can put your best points first and avoid blanks. But, even on application forms, you can describe your qualifications in terms of the job’s duties.

  • Know thyself. Begin by assembling information about yourself. Some items appear on virtually every resume or application form, including the following:
    1. Current address and phone number–if you are rarely at home during business hours, try to give the phone number of a friend or relative who will take messages for you.
    2. Job sought or career goal.
    3. Experience (paid and volunteer) — date of employment, name and full address of the employer, job title, starting and finishing salary, and reason for leaving (moving, returning to school, and seeking a better position are among the readily accepted reasons).
    4. Education–the school’s name, the city in which it is located, the years you attended it, the diploma or certificate you earned, and the course of studies you pursued.
    5. Other qualifications–hobbies, organizations you belong to, honors you have received, and leadership positions you have held.
    6. Office machines, tools, and equipment you have used and skills that you possess.
  • Know thy job. Next, gather specific information about the jobs you are applying for. You need to know the pay range (so you can make their top your bottom), education and experience usually required, hours and shifts usually worked. Most importantly, you need to know the job duties (so that you can describe your experience in terms. of those duties). Study the job description. Some job announcements, especially those issued by a government, even have a checklist that assigns a numerical weight to different qualifications so that you can be certain as to which is the most important; looking at such announcements will give you an idea of what employers look for even if you do not wish to apply for a government job. If the announcement or ad is vague, call the employer to learn what is sought.

Once you have the information you need, you can prepare a resume. You may need to prepare more than one master resume if you are going to look for different kinds of jobs. Otherwise, your resume will not fit the job you seek.

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