Most people view writing their own resume as a grueling task. They find it difficult to know how to get started and what to include, and to identify specific achievements and articulate their successes without feeling braggadocios. The following tips might make this process less painful for you.
How to Get Started
There are two key components for every job: what we are hired to do, and how well we perform those duties. Start your resume by thinking of the many duties that you perform. Write these down as short statements, not sentences, that begin with an action verb, such as managed, created, prepared, organized, etc.
Assess how well you have performed the work by asking yourself some important questions, such as:
- Did I earn a high performance review rating?
- Have I performed collateral duties?
- Was I recognized with awards?
- Did I save the agency money?
- Did I find a more efficient way to do the work?
- What kind of problems do I excel in solving?
- What do I enjoy the most about the job?
These types of questions will help uncover your accomplishments and achievements. These should be included in a section on your resume after your key job duties for every position. Your accomplishments help distinguish you from other applicants. Providing concrete examples will help you stand out.
The majority of applications can be submitted online, such as through www.USAJobs.com, so the format is already created. However, it is highly advisable that you create your resume in MS Word and copy and paste it into the online boxes. This way you will always have a copy that is easy to spell check, edit, and bring to the interview.
A note about HEADERS: if you are submitting your resume via an online template, your resume is put into a text-only format. This means none of the usual formatting options, such as underlining, bolding, and italics, are available. To emphasize sections of information, and the skills and competencies that support your qualifications for a position, include headings in all capital letters - such as EQUIPMENT, CUSTOMER SERVICE, MANAGEMENT, etc.
Proof and Review
Proofreading your resume carefully will save you from embarrassing mistakes. But you may not always catch the errors since you already "know" what you wrote. Ask several people (trusted colleagues, family members and friends) to review your resume. Then proof again!
Finally, allow enough time. Don’t wait until the last minute to update your resume. It does take time. Aim to continually work on your resume throughout the year, so it will always be up-to-date. The time and effort you put into your resume might well pay off by helping you stand out from other applicants.