SECTION A: Getting Started

If you are prepared to write:

One generic (base) résumé
One scannable résumé
One e- résumé
One ASCII résumé
One PDF résumé

and then revise each as many as 15 times (at a minimum), you are a realist about the amount of effort that you are going to put out to GET AN INTERVIEW!

The best possible organization tips for keeping your drafts, versions, and job advertisements are to keep your finished products in two formats. Name each version and date it in your computer. Print each version and keep a binder. Include your job advertisements with every résumé you send both electronically and in print. Be certain you have a way of following the dates you made alterations to your résumé as you go.

While this sounds like a lot of work, it will actually save you headaches later by providing you with a consistent paper/electronic trail to track your job search by chronologically.

Remember That Getting an INTERVIEW is the Only Purpose of Your résumé!

Your résumé -- a one-dimensional piece of paper (or electronic transmission) is your sales pitch for you. This is not a novel and it is not an autobiography.

Today, with the use of paper (an old-fashioned “Make a nice-looking presentation tool”) moving to the wayside because of electronic submission requirements, your résumé must depend entirely on use of language – powerful, succinct language. This is a good thing, because with carefully scripted text, YOU have total control over what potential employers see first, second and third because you have crafted your résumé to unfold in the most dynamic and compelling fashion. You control the buzzwords, keywords and quantifications. You have the Qualifications Summary on your side (more about that later).

What IS the correct way to write a résumé? This course will give you many suggestions, much food for thought and some proven methods, but ultimately please do not be confused by the experts.

Read everything offered and then decide for yourself what language and formatting best represents you and what makes you feel most comfortable with displaying yourself on paper. There is no incorrect way to write a résumé because there is a foolproof test about whether you are in the ballpark or not: your résumés are getting responses from employers. If you are not getting calls, it is time to relook at your work.

Basic preparation:

    • You will use the first worksheets to get your juices flowing and capture as much of yourself off-the-cuff as possible initially. This is called a purge-approach or brain dump session.
    • No one else knows you as well as you do. You could spend a lot of money hiring someone and end up with an inferior product because YOU are the corporate knowledge.

This brings us to RULE # 1 in resume writing: you are going to write, write, and write until you are ready to SCREAM!

Don’t edit as you go during the first round. It is more important that you do not lose your train of thought.

Remember in the back of your mind as you work through your preparations that you may be the finest candidate for the position but if you are not able to communicate that in words, -- scannable, quantifiable language -- it will not matter. If your competition, though not up to snuff with your abilities, surpasses you in writing, you may be passed over.

Prepare by having a professional e-mail account if you don’t have one already. will not cut it. Use a professional-sounding email address, preferably with your name or initials:

List only one telephone number and be certain that the voicemail message is short, understandable and professional. No rap music-wait tones, no 6-year-olds leaving the adorable message. Use your full name.

The most important elements that employers seek from an applicant include:

    • Directly related Experience and Accomplishments
    • Leadership and Communication Skills
    • Work Ethic (self-starter, hard worker with a good attitude)

This last one is the most difficult to describe in the résumé because you will need to demonstrate this in a description of accomplishments, not merely parrot variations on: “I’m a good worker.”

“Developed an in-house team to create and present shared professional technological information throughout the company. This increased our training capability by 11% in 2009 with no outside funding needed.”

Now your employer can see that you can think for yourself, create (unsupervised) effective projects, and obtain quantifiable results.

Using these three elements as the cornerstones for fashioning your résumé, let’s get started on your first set of worksheets.


    1. Electronic scanners are here to stay. If a cold-hearted machine does not pluck out its programmed search terms, it will discard a resume on the spot.
    2. The top one-third of the resume must carry the power. This will require a Qualifications Summary (Section D) on every permutation of your résumé, be it chronological or functional.
    3. The Qualifications Summary (QS) will allow you to make it through electronic scanning. The human eyes that conduct the next round of elimination do not have time to read an entire resume when they are deciding Phase II of “possible” versus “reject.” After you get to the “possible” pile, you get read top to bottom.
    4. The competition is astronomical. You have a one-dimensional source of information to sell yourself as a candidate that an employer would like to speak with face-to-face so that you can show why you are the perfect fit for the job!

Where Might Our Keywords Come From?

    1. Read how the job advertisement is written and “borrow” the terminology.
    2. Read professional journals in your field. The backs of the journals list the Want Ad sections.
    3. Use O*Net Online
    4. Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
    5. Look at Career One Stop: Explore Careers
    6. Register with Maryland Workforce Exchange - Maryland jobs only
    7. - Hourly pay jobs good for students/part time
    8. Government jobs - Government jobs by state and category. (Right now the most wide-open hiring opportunities in the country. Problem: 7-10 month hiring process.)
    9. - search by zip code, category or location
    10. - search by zip code, category or location

Review the above sources for inspiration and then get started on your first set of worksheets in Section B.