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     Tips For Organizing Your Resume

Whether you're a Vice President of Marketing or a recent college grad, your RESUME is the key to opening the doors of employment. It is an employer's first impression of you and believe it or not, many hiring officials spend less than thirty seconds reviewing it. With only fleeting moments to make a first IMPRESSION, it is imperative that your resume be organized. Polish your shoes, practice your handshake, and take note of some tips for creating an organized resume that will catch the eye of even the most weary of Human Resource associates.

Start by sitting down with your old resume and a timer. Give yourself fifteen seconds to read it. How far did you get? Were you able to read the whole page? Besides getting your foot in the door, your goal is to create a resume that can be SCANNED top to bottom in less than 30 seconds. Next, give yourself another fifteen seconds but this time skim your resume as if you were the person doing the hiring. What parts stood out? Was it a bold or italic phrase? Was it a tabbed column of words or a dollar sign? Think about what words or sections JUMPED OUT at you, circle them in red, and use them within the body of your new resume. For another opinion, take a fresh copy and ask a friend or family member to do the same.

Your resume must be organized to punctuate your strengths and highlight your employment-related ACHIEVEMENTS. On scrap paper, create a chart and write all of your past jobs across the top of the page. Below each job title list at least 2-4 duties or accomplishments relating to the position. Analyze each of those and ask yourself: Does this achievement have any RELEVANCE to the job I'm now pursuing? Will the reader of my resume be impressed by the money I've saved the company / the body of work I created / the skills I've acquired?

The next step is to PRIORITIZE those duties or accomplishments. For example, let's say you are an administrative assistant listing relevant duties and achievements from your last job. This is your newly-brainstormed, non-prioritized list:
  • answered phone calls for entire office of 45 people
  • created and color-coded filing system for Sales Department
  • coordinated supervisor's travel arrangements
  • saved company $12,000 by switching office supply vendors
Now, take a moment to prioritize your list. Which description should be listed first? Which of the four will quickly catch the reader's eye? Depending upon the type of job you're applying for, if you saved your former company any money or increased their PRODUCTIVITY in any way, that fact should be listed first. Now read the list:
  • saved company $12,000 by switching office supply vendors
  • created and color-coded filing system for Sales Department
  • coordinated supervisor's travel arrangements
  • answered phone calls for entire office of 45 people
Always position your STRONGEST achievement first. Either they'll be impressed and move on or think 'Wow!' and continue reading directly below. An eye-catching first statement will positively affect every statement listed beneath it so choose wisely.

As opposed to a sea of text, a bulleted list FOCUSES the eye to a specific area on the page. They are often used to highlight your accomplishments instead of hiding them within bulky paragraphs.

Example: Saved Sales department $12,000 by researching companies and switching office supply vendors. Created and color-coded filing system to support VP of Sales. Coordinated supervisor's travel arrangements. Answered phone calls.

  • saved company $12,000 by switching office supply vendors
  • created and color-coded filing system for Sales Department
  • coordinated supervisor's travel arrangements
  • answered phone calls for entire office of 45 people
Remember, one of your goals is to make reading your resume as EASY as possible. The reader's eye will dart straight to the bullet and focus on what is written to its immediate right. If you want to hold the reader's attention, use ACTION words (verbs) next to a bullet, as above. Employing strong action words will assist the reader in visualizing you carrying out those tasks for their company.

Do not make 100 copies of your resume until at least one other person has reviewed it for ERRORS and inconsistencies. Five minutes of editorial prevention can mean the difference between getting an interview or getting a rejection letter.

To an HR official, an organized resume can be interpreted as the sign of an organized person. An organized person has the potential to have an organized desktop, organized file cabinets, and organized work habits. These are SKILLS and qualities that employers desire in an employee. If you can present a company/organization with an organized resume it will put you one step ahead of your less organized competition.


Stacey Agin Murray is a professional organizer and the owner of Organized Artistry, LLC. She transforms mess into masterpiece with patience, organizing know-how, and a sense of humor. Her booklet "7 Steps To An Organized Wedding Thank You Note" is available directly through www.OnlineOrganizing.com. You may visit her web site at http://www.organizedartistry.com.

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