How to Gather the Right Information for Your Resume

Gathering the right information is essential to writing an interview-landing resume. If you haven't taken the time to gather each of the following pieces of information, you won't have the tools you need to write a resume that impresses the reader. There are three essential areas you need to focus on.

The Job Description

Having a job description for your targeted position is important for writing your resume. Here's why. One of the first things a potential employer looks for is proof that you know what they need. If your resume doesn't reflect a clear understanding of the job you are applying for, it will hit the reject stack in seconds.

It's even better to have several job descriptions for similar jobs. This broadens the keywords that you incorporate within the resume and makes the resume more flexible. If you are applying to many different employers, it is more effective to use your time tweaking your cover letter than to rewrite your resume every single time you apply for a job. By thoroughly researching several job descriptions, you can create a solid generic resume for that field.

Your Work History and Experience

Work history refers to any paid or volunteer position you have held over the past 15 years. You can go further back if you choose, but anything past 20 years instantly marks you as pushing 50. While age discrimination is illegal, it happens.

You will need the following information for each paid or volunteer position.

  • The name of the business or organization along with location (city and state)
  • The job title
  • The date you started and the date you left
  • The duties you performed
  • The benefits you were able to provide your employer

Some jobs will require the exact dates you worked, so get this information if you can. For your resume, though, it is sufficient to list the month and year you started and left. It is also sufficient to list only the years you started and left. Listing only years can be very beneficial to those who have short gaps in their work history. Remember to list this information in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experience first.

If you have been self-employed, give the name under which you conducted business. Give yourself a job title, along with the dates you were self-employed. If you are one of those individuals who has worked from home, start by looking at the duties you routinely conducted and frame them within the context of the "work" world.

Your Education and Training

List the schools you have attended and the degrees you have earned. If your work history is weak, consider including a section listing the courses you took that are relevant to the position you are interested in. Any certifications you have earned, continuing education courses, etc. can be useful for demonstrating your qualifications for a position with the company.

When you have information in all three of these areas, you have the material you need to start putting your resume together. You won't necessarily use everything you have gathered. That's OK. Your goal is to have everything readily available. This will make it easier to write a resume that gets the attention it deserves.