Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Writing your resume can be overwhelming. The good news is there are things you can do before even starting to write anything that will make the process easier, and maybe even enjoyable.
Writing your resume can be daunting, even for the most accomplished business professional. Sadly, it is a vital part of securing a new role - whether you are going for an internal promotion, looking for a career change, or wanting a new job in a different company. It is a common complaint that people don’t know where to start in writing or updating their resume and end up sitting in front of a blank piece of paper trying to recall their previous roles, achievements, projects and training (formal and informal).
Most people just start putting pen to paper (or more accurately keystrokes to screen) without having a clear picture of what they are going to write. Having the information in front of you ready to reference makes life so much easier (and way-less frustrating) than attempting to pull the information from thin air.
The following six things will help you start collating the relevant information to trigger your memory to make writing your resume much more efficient, and much less painful.
1. Talk to your referees
Your referees are a great source of information and support throughout the recruitment process. They are often called upon at the end of the process to provide a formal reference check but are usually confined to that part of the process alone. Speaking to your referees at the beginning of the job search process can provide a lot of helpful information in recalling the things they remember most about your accomplishments and worth. This in turn will help you remember the projects you worked on and provide tangible achievements that can be included in your resume. Who knows they might even have a job for you.
2. Ask the people who reported to you
I once was asked to do a reference check for someone who had worked for me for several years. In preparation they sent me a copy of their resume and a list of their proudest achievements. It was such an insightful document for me because there were projects included in the list that I was directly accountable for that I had forgotten about! Asking the people who reported to you what they remember you for is useful, and then asking them what they are most proud of whilst they reported to you will likely yield a host of information you can use in your own resume.
3. Speak to your colleagues
It then follows it is worthwhile to speak to colleagues who you worked with. It is highly likely there will be an overlap in the projects you worked on and they will likely remember others you have forgotten. It is also worth asking your trusted colleagues what they remember you for. This could be another great source of information to include in your resume, particularly for specific roles they worked with you.
4. Review the meetings in your calendar
If you are still currently employed and are looking for a new job you have the luxury of having access to your calendar which will capture the meetings you have been involved in. Whether you have been an active member of a project, or acted in an advisory role, your calendar will provide a host of information you can potentially include in your resume, including projects, events, workshops and training.
5. Look at your performance reviews
If you are like me, you will hopefully have some old performance reviews saved somewhere. The beauty of performance reviews is you have already outlined your achievements and your key performance indicators.
6. Access your old job descriptions
Your resume should include an overview of your key accountabilities for each of your roles. Whilst your old job descriptions will have way too much information in them to include in your resume, they will be a great way to remember what you were responsible for.
Having done your preparation and sourcing the information you need to start writing your resume will save you time and pain! By accessing any of the above resources you will start to be able to formulate your responsibilities for each role, your key achievements for each role, your career achievements, workshops and training you have completed, and many other valuable bits and pieces that you can include in your resume to get you off to a great start.