Creating a Résumé from Scratch

Dear, Anita,

Recent graduate here. I have filled out job applications in the past but I’ve never had to create a résumé before, and I don’t know where to start. It seems intimidating. Can you point me in the right direction?

Dear, Résumé Newbie,

Person Holding ResumeAccording to Dictionary.com, a résumé is a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience… prepared by an applicant for a job. With your recent school report-writing experience, this should be a snap. Think you don’t have enough to fill a page? C’mon, I’m sure you learned to stretch your thoughts to get to the word requirement for all those English essays.

I think Dictionary.com has the order backwards, though. If you have had any work experience at all, lead with that, followed by your education, with personal details at the bottom.

For your employment history, list the company name, date range of employment, and your job duties and responsibilities. Include summer jobs, babysitting gigs, stints as camp counselor, unpaid internships and yes, working in a family business even if paid only with your room and board.

What to do if you have absolutely zero employment history and are looking for your very first job? Beef up the education areas and mention classes that relate to your desired field (include grades, if they are stellar), outline any projects or reports that may be relevant, as well as any useful skills that you picked up along the way.  In fact, if you are particularly tech-savvy, break out “Computer Skills” as a subhead and list the programs in which you are well-versed.

Woman holding resume for a job interviewYou can bulk up a beginner’s résumé with personal information, such as skills, clubs, interests, awards, and community service. See my “Including Volunteer Work in Your Resume” post for more tips along these lines.

Another section to consider adding is References. “References upon request” is often seen on the bottom of jam-packed résumés, but for those without a “grip” of employment history, including the name and contact information for past teachers, bosses, church elders, or family friends who will give a glowing testimonial about your character is worth the space.

As for the format, keep it simple. Tempting as it may be to pimp out your résumé with a graphics program, many companies and job search sites such as Monster.com may require you to submit your résumé as a Word document. Word has dozens of résumé templates that you may download to give you a clean, professional look.

If you find you are not having success landing interviews, consider a professional résumé writing service such as CareerPerfect that can polish your rhinestone in the rough.

Readers: Readers, remember your first résumé? Did you learn anything about résumé-writing that can help our recent graduate?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JESSE REYNA
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 13:04:46

    I have a lot of problems landing a job, I remember it was so easy getting one back in the days not any more, I don’t know what happen, of course im a whole lot older now, I have so much experience, I would think I could get me a job by now, it has been almost 6 months now without working, it is so frustrating these days, its not what you know, its who you know.

    Reply

  2. Walter Washington
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 13:36:26

    Great post! I would like to add that most universities that I have come across offer career services that will help current and former students with résumé development. Furthermore, some alumni associations offer this assistance as well. Lastly, reaching out to one’s local, government operated workforce center offers assistance in résumé development too. Best of luck to you Résumé Newbie!

    Reply

  3. Accountess
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 20:09:56

    Keep it simple, less is more. Concise and relevant. No need to lie, no experience is “okay”
    The “Summary” section: can add what it is that you are “good” at for instance you may not not have actual work related experience bu you can say something like. “I am coachable and have the willingness to learn” This is “key” employers often time prefer no experience because that means the potential employee has not picked up any “bad habits” so be honest, concise and keep it simple. Less is more.

    Here’s a Sample “Summary Section” that is very effective.

    SUMMARY
    My high attention to detail and ability to build relationships through exceptional customer service has allowed me to be very successful in my previous positions. In addition I am a recent college graduate and have applied effective time management and analytical abilities to accurately and successfully complete projects and tasks under extreme deadlines. I am self-motivated, always positive, take pride in my work and have excellent computer skills. I am currently seeking new career opportunities in the XXXXXX Industry that will allow me to fully utilize my current customer service skills with an opportunity for continued learning and advancement within the company.

    Hope this helps.
    Amelia

    Reply

  4. Tiffany Lieu
    Jul 08, 2014 @ 13:50:37

    After reading enough employment tips on job search and resume as well as cover letter writing, I caught onto also from the counselors that resumes are increasingly being screened by resume tracking software that uses resume templates. I would not start everything from scratch when building the resumes or the cover letters without a known template. It is better to download the templates from well known sites such as Microsoft Office. In fact, I have been using their templates several times so far for resume writing or I adopted the templates given to me from job workshops. There is a better scoring for the resumes and/or cover letters following established templates by human resources.

    Reply

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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