Maybe you need a part-time job, just finished school, or are trying to put your best foot forward. Whatever the reason, you’ve found it’s time for you to write your first resume. I know, this can be a bit of an overwhelming task – you may not even be sure how to begin. You’ve seen those amazing resumes with categories and glowing descriptions. But, don’t worry, with our step by step guide, you’ll have an impressive resume ready to send out in no time. Remember, resumes are living documents, meaning they grow and change regularly. This is simply a starting point. You’re giving yourself the amazing gift of a start, a resume that will be built upon as your career and experiences grow.
Step 1: Google resumes, and get acquainted with some samples.
Here is where you can really take a look at other people’s resumes, and get a sense of what you like and don’t like. You’ll find there are some you think are great, and others that you may not prefer. Remember, don’t get overwhelmed by an executive’s resume sample – you’ll get there one day. Google terms like “first resume,” “student resume,” or “simple resume.”
Step 2: Get out a piece of paper and pen.
Once you’ve look at a bunch of resumes, you may feel ready to jump right in. While it may be tempting to open up a way, this probably isn’t the best way to start. Yes, your final resume will be documented in Word, but it’s best to get all your thoughts out on paper, in a very rough draft, before you begin. Get to a quiet place, with a pen you like, and start thinking. While your scratching out ideas, it’s okay to write, rip it up, and start over. This is a work in progress, and a very important one at that.
Step 3: Create some important lists.
Create some lists: work experience, education, clubs and activities, and skills. This is why it is helpful to start on a scrap piece of paper, while your jotting down items, you can use arrows to move something that feel the most important to the top of the list.
Now that you have these main lists, dig down a bit more and make lists related to each of those items. For example, you may have
listed a part-time job at a book store, now take some time to create a list including your responsibilities at that job, and any accolades you may have received. Or, you may have some great unique skills, such as knowledge of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. While it can feel funny at first to brag, this is certainly the place to do it, tastefully.
Reflect on your lists, and decide which one looks the most appealing. There is no rule that you have to list education first, or work experience first. A good rule of thumb is to begin your resume with your most appealing list – which for your could be either. If you’re currently in college, it may be best to list education first, as this is likely an impressive resume item.
Step 4: Choose a simple template in Microsoft Word to work with.
Take a moment to browse some of the free templates available in Microsoft Word. I think it’s best to start with a simple template, as this is your first resume. There will be plenty of time down the road to get fancy, as your experiences grow. Open the template and get familiar with how to work with it. If you’re not loving it, it’s okay – close out and pick a new one. It’s important that it feels right. Some people get really fancy, with designer templates or resumes crafted by graphic designers. At this point, keep it simple.
Step 5: Start writing.
Now that you have a great template to work with, and your lists on hand, you can begin to fill it in. Include your name, email address, phone number, and any other pertinent information, particularly how you would like to be contacted. There are instances where a home address may be needed. Then, with your lists close by, begin filling in education, work experience, and skills.
As a quick note, if your going for a very specific job, internship, or placement, it may be a good idea to create a one or two sentence statement of intention at the top of your resume. This can be stated as an objective, which you will likely see in some of the samples you searched online for earlier. For example, you may write: “To secure an internship at a leading publishing house.”
Step 6: Edit, edit, edit.
Once completed, take a break from the screen. After some time has passed, return to your resume and comb through it, word by word. The last thing you want on your first resume is a typo. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct, and that your spacing looks consistent. Also, don’t get fancy with all sorts of fonts, stick with something classic like Times New Roman, size 12.
Step 7: Print it out and edit again.
It’s funny, sometimes things you didn’t notice on the glaring computer screen become glaringly obvious once printed out. Print out your resume, and edit once more, paying attention to grammatical or spelling errors, spacing, and overall readability.
Step 8: Get some feedback.
Once you feel you’ve done all the editing you can personally, print out your resume and share it with some people you trust. Maybe you can share it with a friend, family member, coworker, supervisor, or teacher. Ask them for their feedback, and to read through for any grammatical errors. Beyond some quick edits, you may find they have some suggestions for items you could add to your resume.
Step 9: Take a deep breathe, and admire your work.
Believe it or not, you’ve just created your first resume. If you’re printing it out and mailing it somewhere, print it on some decent cardstock. If you’re keeping it electronic, make sure you save it in a special place on your computer, maybe even on your desktop, where I keep mine.
What do you think is important to include in your first resume?