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Getting Started - How to Begin to Write Your Resume

Your resume is a lifeline to your next position!  
It is a particularly acute lifeline if you are out of work or miserable in your current position.
Yet I’ve talked with job seeker after job seeker who delays producing this all-important marketing tool.  Why?  Why is it so hard to get started?

Why is it so hard to get started?
There are lots of reasons job seekers put off writing their resumes.  One reason is that writing a resume requires you to put down on two sheets of paper the history of your career and accomplishments.  It’s a daunting task  -- to say the least!  Couple this with uncertainty about the type of information that should be included and knowledge of effective formats, and the task grows even bigger.  Then, add factors such as lack of confidence in your writing ability and style, and the task grows immense.  It can, in fact, be overwhelming. 
It is no wonder that many people find getting started very difficult.  Procrastination has been known to go on for weeks, months, years, . . . . even entire careers!

So, how do you begin to put down on paper a career spanning 2 years or 2 decades?
The best way to begin a resume is simply to begin.

Step 1:  Just start writing.  I advise clients to begin writing their resumes by starting writing.  Start anywhere!  It doesn't matter where you begin.  Just begin!

You can start by thinking about a position you held recently or one from 20 years ago.  Begin by listing the duties of the job.  Start recalling some of that job’s highlights  –  things that you recall that you are proud of having accomplished.  Jot those down.

Now, use the same process for another position -  Again just pick one.  This part of the exercise does not have to be done in order of positions you held.  The chronological positioning of your jobs on your resume will come later.

Continue in this way, listing highlights of your work job by job, until you have notes on each position you have both (1) held and (2) decided to include in your resume (Note:  It's your choice.  Not every position held has to go on your resume, especially early jobs that have little bearing on the work you want to do now.)  Voila!  You have a basic resume  –  a “skeleton” of your eventual  resume.

Step 2:  Documentation and amplification
The next step is to fill out the skeleton of your resume produced in Step 1.  Gather together documents that will help you recall details about jobs you held.
Some examples of documents helpful to constructing your resume are:
    - Old resumes
    - Job descriptions from previous positions you held
    - Performance appraisals
    - Letters of commendation from previous employers
    - Awards
    - Letters of thanks or praise from customers, clients, vendors, colleagues, managers,
       or employees
    - Articles you wrote or articles written about you
    - Publications / books / reports / studies / executive summaries of any of these
    - Letters acknowledging your contribution to the community from community organizations
    - Professional association acknowledgments of your role and contribution
    - Training courses you have delivered or taken
    - Presentations
    - Records of education courses/ degrees you successfully completed
    - Certifications
    - Licenses
    - Job descriptions / advertisements for positions you would like to hold
Look through the documents for information identifying or amplifying particular tasks you performed well that are also relevant to the type of work you want to do.  As you go through these documents, you’ll find yourself not only remembering achievements that you had forgotten but recalling details surrounding them.

Now go back to your skeleton resume and fill out the skeleton with information you have just found.  Add tasks you performed well and the results you achieved under the appropriate position.

Step 3.  Overview your goal and qualifications by writing your Career Summary
Write a paragraph that overviews duties you held, your strengths, and area(s) of expertise.  It should be no more than 5 or 6 phrases.  Remember, no complete sentences appear on a resume - just phrases.

Almost without realizing it, using this method, you have a resume! And, it is a resume that is focused on your goal.  Simply beginning in this non-threatening way will get you started and well on your way to a producing an effective resume!

Still procrastinating?  Here's an exercise to help
What causes you to procrastinate?         Here’s a short exercise to beat procrastination.
Take a moment and think about the times you procrastinate.  
What are the tasks you put off doing?  Be specific.  
Is there a common thread that runs through the types of things you put off doing?

For each task you list, identify a cause, and figure out one strategy to overcome procrastination.

  Task                                 Cause                                          Strategy to Overcome                  

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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