Avoiding the Goldilocks Resume Writing Syndrome

By: Rusty Sheridan

Most job seekers do not take the appropriate amount of time to research what they need in order to prepare a resume that will sell their qualifications to a hiring company. It has been said that preparing a resume is comparable to preparing a tax return. In short, a real drag!

So where do you begin? The following steps will simplify the process:


1. Decide on the position and research various sources to find job ads outlining the requirements of the position.

2. Do a skills inventory exercise by making a checklist from the list of job requirements.

3. Take the requirements matching your qualifications and write a rough draft of experience next to each requirement along with a note of which employer.

4. Organize all of the roughly drafted sentences under each employer listing the most recent employer first and work your way down the page (reverse chronological order).

5. Polish the sentences being sure to start each one with an action verb such as managed, coordinated, and supervised, and leave out pronouns such as I, she, and he.

6. In addition to your routine work activities, do your best to list a few select accomplishments. This could include learning a new software at work and training another person to increase productivity or to save the employer money by avoiding the need to pay a software training school to teach their employees.

7. Do not list sentences about your attributes in place of experience. For example, under Professional Experience or Work History, do not write, "Ensure workflow efficiencies exercising exceptional organizational and time management skills." This is not specific enough about your responsibilities.

8. Decide which categories you will need. For example, if you have a recent degree and limited experience, put the Education first. If you have mostly experience, list Education last. If you have impressive academic credentials that were obtained a few years back and want them to be sure they see it, still list it last, but mention the credential in your profile or summary section.

9. Include an objective statement. Do not make the mistake of omitting an objective thinking that you do not want to limit your opportunities. If you take this approach, the reader will not know what position you are targeting and will most likely toss your resume in the trash can. You cannot be all things to all companies. This goes back to the first step in the exercise. Choose what you want to do. Then build the
resume around that objective.

10. Format the resume so it is attractive. Be consistent with the style of the headings, dates, states and bolding. For example, if you abbreviate the name of the state where you worked, make sure it is abbreviated in your address at the top and throughout the resume with the exception of the sentences. Do not include the day of the month you were hired. Limit it to the month and year. Do not include the full address of the employer. This is for the job application form, not the resume.

First section: OBJECTIVE

An objective for a job seeker's first resume is very important because the reader cannot skim the experience section to make a quick assumption what a job seeker wants to do. The objective statement should be specific, not making the mistake of being too cliche but stating something so general as 'seeking a position with a large organization offering career growth opportunity" because that says absolutely nothing and is all about what you want and fails to communicate what you have to offer the company. This is how the section should look:


Ambitious sports enthusiast exploring a position in sports marketing. Offer a recent degree in Marketing, valuable field internship experience and three years of experience in special events coordination and public relations.


A Summary of Qualifications section "summarizes" a job seeker's selling points relevant to the job they are applying for. The easiest format is a few bulleted sentences, each dedicated to experience, skills, credentials and attributes. This is how the section should look:


* Offer five years of experience in customer service and training workshop coordination.
* Work full time to finance education in marketing; consistently maintain excellent grades.
* Excellent organizational, interpersonal communication, and problem resolution skills.
* Creative thinker with a proven ability to size up a situation and bring new ideas to the table.

Third Section: EDUCATION

A job seeker may have five years of experience, but it is not in their chosen field or in direct alignment with their pending bachelors degree. So, their most impressive selling point is their education. Resume Tip: when a degree is pending, it is advantageous to include a short list of the most important courses. Do not list high school if you have college
experience. It is understood. The exception would be if you are in your first year of college and have very accomplished experience in high school. Otherwise, just to list it for the sake of including it is not necessary. This is how the section should look:


Name of College, Town, XX
Pursuing Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing; expected December 2007
Current GPA: 3.7

Select Coursework:
* Principles of Marketing
* Marketing Research
* Managerial Accounting
* Organizational Communications
* Business Policy and Strategy


Until you have strong and extensive experience in your "profession" you should hold off on using the category "professional experience" and opt for "work history".

The first line of this section should include the company name, town, and state, but not the door address. That information should only be included on a job application form. On the same line as the company name and location over to the right margin, place the employment dates. The job title should be listed on the second line in bold. There are formatting variations from resume to resume, but this is the basic approach.


Rocco's Pizzeria, Town, State X/XX to Present
Second Shift Waitress

* Provide excellence in customer service to an average of 80 patrons per shift.
* Train new staff members on shift procedures and restaurant policies.
* Assist with the planning and set up of in-house and off-site catering services.


This section will convey a strong work ethic, willingness to contribute to the community, experience working with people, an ability to plan, organize, coordinate and carry out a program, and good communication, analysis, and problem solving skills.
This is how this section should look:


Strikes and Spares Bowling Alley, Town, State X/XX to X/XX
Volunteer Bowling Instructor

* Conduct bowling workshops to individuals and groups of six to eight children, ages 5 to 10.
* Work with pro shop to promote workshops and effectively sell sporting equipment and supplies.
* Coordinate fundraisers to raise monies for awards, marketing campaigns, and competitions.


Most people have basic computer skills such as Microsoft Word. It is acceptable to list the names of software programs without indicating the proficiency level. This is how this section should look:


MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint; Internet research

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