Tips for Building a Better Resume: Focus on Truths, Not Tricks

Serving as the gateway to a professional development plan, crafting a quality resume can be one of the most important tasks in your professional career. But first and foremost, building a better resume must begin by presenting a truthful, accurate, and realistic reflection of who you are as a professional. Building a career is about finding job opportunities that are a match; and finding that match makes all of the difference.

As we learn and grow as professionals, all of us tend to gravitate towards the aspects of the job that we enjoy, the skill sets where we excel, and the professional prospects that draw our greatest interest. As we mature and evolve as professionals these areas tend to grow with us, often setting the tone for our accomplishments and the direction of our career path.

This is typically reflected in the way that we put together our resume. When we are attempting to describe the many different facets of a particular position that we’ve held we try to paint a complete picture, but there is still a tendency to focus on the areas where we’ve felt we’ve performed at our best and those that we’re most passionate about. This isn’t only natural—it’s necessary. A resume is a road map. It tells others where you’ve been as a professional, where you are today, and most importantly it should lead to where you want to go. Building a better resume will help us find our own way and provide a means to share it with others.

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There are those who believe that a resume should be customized to fit a particular job that we choose to apply for. That may or may not help us get a particular job, but caution must still be practiced when taking this approach. Naturally, the information must be accurate and represent our skills and abilities. But it should also reflect our interests, our approach, and our passions. It has to represent who we are and give a realistic picture of how we can perform.

If your resume doesn’t truly represent who you are, you’re only hurting yourself. A well-written resume helps build confidence and credibility in a candidate; but that only holds true when it is a true depiction of who we are. “Fluff” and exaggeration have a tendency to come to light at some point during the search process, and once credibility is lost, so is the opportunity. Worse yet, it can lead you to a job that doesn’t really suit you.

A job search is a process, and having the right tools is important. But learning how to use those tools in the right way is just as important. Crafting a better resume is a step in the right direction.

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This article was first published in 2016 and updated April 15, 2020.

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