The Prescription for a Healthy Résumé

The thought of creating a résumé from scratch can be enough to keep you up at night, similar to the way a cold, a stomach bug, or any other medical ailment can keep you from getting a good night’s rest.  Not knowing where to start, which format to use, and what experiences to include (and consequently worrying if you have enough experience) are enough to make any résumé newcomer dizzy.  But what if I told you I had the magic cure for those symptoms?  What if I told you crafting a résumé was as easy as visiting the doctor when you’re sick? Don’t believe me? Let’s take a step-by-step look at how the résumé writing process compares to a visit with your doctor.

Scheduling an Appointment / Résumé Introduction:

At the onset of illness, the first step many people take is to schedule a doctor’s appointment.  We pick up the phone, dial the number, and, in traditional conversation etiquette, introduce ourselves to the receptionist when they answer.  During this introduction we typically provide them with our name and any other identifying information (date of birth or confirmation of address for example) they may need in order to access our profile.  Once our personal information has been confirmed, we provide a high-level overview of the reason we wish to see the doctor.

Similar to the way we announce who we are and the reason for wanting to see the doctor, we want to identify ourselves and the purpose of our document when writing a résumé.  This is done through providing our name and identifying information (i.e. address, phone number, e-mail address, and education) at the top of our résumé.  In addition, we may also consider writing an objective that provides the reader with an additional overview of why we are sharing the document with them.

Informing the Doctor / Résumé Formatting:

The thought process of how we share information with our doctor can be applied to formatting our past experiences on a résumé.  During a doctor’s visit, they will more than likely ask questions related to our overall health and any ailments we are experiencing.  This is typically the time we would discuss symptoms we have, when the symptoms started, and how long they lasted.

When we think about formatting our résumé, we want to follow a similar approach to how we explain our ailments to a doctor.  On our résumé, we want to be sure to outline where we worked and what we did, the same way we’d tell a doctor where our pain was. Then, we make note of the dates we started and ended employment, just like we’d tell the doctor how long our symptoms presented.

Explanation of Symptoms / Résumé Bullet Statements:

Once we’ve explained the presenting symptom to the doctor, we still need to provide additional information about the illness in order for them to make a proper diagnosis. Typically, we give the doctor specific details on how the ailments are affecting us, what remedies we’ve already tried (if any), and how they are or aren’t working.  These facts allow the doctor to make an informed decision and treat us accordingly.

Similar to the way the extra context helps the doctor make a diagnosis, extra context on a résumé (bullet statements) outlining our work experience will help the reader determine if we should be scheduled for an interview.  By briefly explaining what we did, how we did it, and why we did it, we will paint a clear picture for the reader of how our skills align with the requirements of the position.

Follow Up Visit / Résumé Resources:

Finally, the doctor may suggest we schedule a follow-up appointment with them a week or so after our illness to see how we’ve progressed.  This allows the doctor to assess how we are recovering, as well as provide us with any additional information that may help improve our overall health.

Much like we can count on our doctor to provide us with wellness advice, we can count on the Center for Career Development to offer suggestions on our overall résumé health.  We recommend visiting the CCD website to download a copy the Résumé, CV and Written Communication Guide and/or scheduling a twenty-minute résumé critique with our staff.  Following this prescription for a healthy résumé will help lead you to a restful night’s sleep in no time!

By Kristen Soprano
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