Introduction to the Résumé
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A résumé is a written document that summarizes your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. Think of it as a quick advertisement where you get to show potential employers, at a glance, who you are and what you are capable of.

A résumé is a written document that summarizes your skills, abilities, and accomplishments.

Your résumé is often the first thing potential employers see. Its effectiveness can determine whether or not you get called in for an interview or considered for a promotion. Your successful mastery of this one professional document could open up many doors for you.

Delivering What The Employer Wants

A résumé is an advertisement detailing who you are and what you can offer a specific employer. It is vital that you first come to know who your “advertisement” is meant for.

Think of your potential employer as someone who has placed an order for a cheese pizza. They haven’t eaten all day. They have been looking forward to this simple, perfectly prepared meal for quite some time. The order has been placed well in advance and the exact specifications of what they want has been clearly communicated.

When the pizza finally arrives and the box gets opened though, this is what’s found inside:

This is an image of a pizza with vegetable toppings.

A simple order that has been complicated by all kinds of extras that were not even requested or perhaps even liked.

How quickly do you think this order would be dismissed?

Think of an employer’s job description as a carefully detailed order form and your résumé as the pizza being delivered. A wrong pizza order would likely be discarded just as the wrong type of résumé. For this reason, it is critical that you first come to realize that there is no such thing as a résumé that fulfills every potential employer’s order form perfectly. Each employer in your specific field or industry might be looking for the same type of food (pizza). However, they will probably have unique desires and tastes that will require adjustments to the product you deliver to them (your résumé). You should modify your résumé to each job you’re applying for.

To accomplish this, before you write your résumé, you need to do the following:

  1. Analyze the job posting you want to respond to for key terms, phrases, and audience values.
  2. Assess your own credentials and work experience.
  3. Brainstorm what value you will bring to that employer based on your specific credentials, work experience, and skill set.

If you continually apply all three of these methods as you write the various sections of your résumé, you will have a much better chance of delivering the potential employer what he or she actually ordered.

Analysis of a Job Posting

Video Source | (05:15 mins, "Job Posting Example" Transcript)

Ponder and Record

Let’s practice! Watch the above screencast analysis of a real life BYU-Pathway Worldwide job posting and then answer the following questions in relation to your own job posting:

  • What key terms and phrases can you identify in your own job posting?
  • What do these key terms and phrases suggest about what this employer values?
  • What unique skills, qualifications, credentials, and life experiences do you have in relation to this job posting?

Now that you have a clear idea of how you can effectively analyze job postings for key terms, phrases, and audience values, let’s take a closer look at how recruiters review résumés and how you can make a good impression.

Getting Past the First Review

We’ve used the phrase “at a glance” to describe a résumé. What does that mean? It means that your résumé probably won’t be read unless you’re a final candidate. According to a study carried out by the job-matching service, recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds reviewing a résumé (see "You have 7.4 seconds to make an impression: How recruiters see your resume" by Meredith Lepore, January 30, 2020). 7.4 seconds! That is literally a glance. There are at least two main takeaways from this study. The first is that you shouldn’t base your entire job search on your résumé. You’ll also need to use good job-finding skills like networking. The second is that your résumé has to be scannable (easy to read) so that in just six seconds, a recruiter can tell if you're a good fit for that job. To be scannable, your résumé needs to have the right format and content.

Need More Help?

  1. Study other Writing Lessons in the Resource Center.
  2. Visit the Online Tutoring Resources in the Resource Center.
  3. Contact your Instructor.
  4. If you still need help, Schedule a Tutor.