Whether you write your own resume or hire someone to do it for you, you are going to have to put in some work before you sit down to write. And as a relauncher who’s been out of the work force, this could be challenging. Much of the information you need may no longer be easily accessible.
So get busy. Here are some steps to follow gleaned from a variety of sources and my own experience:
- Make a list of all your paid work and volunteer experience. Keep it simple at this point. Just the names of companies and organizations.
- Once you’ve made that list, dig up job descriptions for each. If you don’t have an old resume to work off from or were promoted from within, you may not have descriptions on paper. Search job listings to find comparable job descriptions, print them out and add them to your working file. I struggled to describe all my duties in some of my earlier positions at CNN. But I found multiple job listings on an online job board for the Al Jazeera news channel. Doesn’t matter where you work, news is news, and all media outlets have to get something in print, online, or on air and in much the same way.
- Find descriptions for all the organizations for which you worked or volunteered. This is particularly important if you have volunteered for an organization that is not nationally known. It’s good to throw in a one-line description about the company you worked for, particularly if they are an industry leader or have accomplished something of value.
- Dig up dates.
- Find anything you wrote, produced, edited, created.
- Dig up performance reviews. If you don’t have them, it’s possible the company has some on file.
- Talk, talk, talk to former colleagues, bosses, and friends. Ask them for their perspective on your time working or volunteering with them. You may have forgotten a project you worked on that turned out particularly well. Or maybe you left before you found out just what an impact your marketing campaign had. Be clear that you’re not fishing for compliments but just trying to jog your own memory so that you can compile the best possible resume. When recently talking to a former colleague of mine and describing the pro bono work I’ve been doing, he quickly said I was too good for the work I was doing. I was taken aback. While I feel good about my previous professional experience and the quality of the work I did, I wasn’t aware of what he thought. I just asked him for a LinkedIn recommendation.
- Make a list of accomplishments. These could be awards, citations, company growth or sales figures, anything concrete. Did you accomplish any firsts? How about new systems or procedures? Did you meet or exceed company objectives? Did you solve any major problems? Did you save the company money? Think about it critically and as objectively as possible. Even if you just answered the phones at the front desk, perhaps you helped change the public face of the office with a cheerful disposition. Everything counts.