Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Make a Great Resume

Arguably the most important step you must take during the process of looking for a nonprofit job (or any job for that matter) is probably the most self-explanatory: creating your resume.  Creating a resume sounds simple enough, right?  It's just a list of all your previous work and education experience, how hard could it possibly be?  Well it's a lot more involved than one might think.

A lot of job candidates simply create one resume and use it for all of the jobs that they apply to.  While this might seem like a reasonable approach, it is very much the wrong thing to do.  Say you go to the Nonprofit Times' Job Seeker and see a position for an Executive Director.  This is a job right up your ally, so you submit your resume.  While the resume you submitted may have information that proves you are a good fit for the position, it is also loaded with things that are totally irrelevant to the position. While you might be proud of the volunteer work you did at a local farm, this is probably not information that you need to include for this particular job.

The point here is you need to create more than one resume for each job you apply to.  The best way to do this is create your main resume as a starting point.  Whenever you find a nonprofit position that seems appealing, you would then make the necessary changes to it that will best appeal to that company.  If you find yourself submitting the same resume to every position you apply to, you are doing exactly the wrong thing.  Even if the changes you make seem small, they will make all the difference if they highlight the skills this particular job is looking for.  Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Change some words in your resume to match what the company is looking for.  This will show that you are doing more than just applying to every job you see
  • It is not enough to say what you did at a previous company: you should also explain how this helped the company.  For example, it's all well and good that you did social media work at your last job; but don't you think it's pertinent to mention that your work on the company Facebook helped drive more traffic to your company?
  •  As I touched on before, make your resume short and sweet.  This can be done not only by cutting irrelevant information, but also making sure your descriptions don't go past one line.  By being as concise as possible, it will show potential employers that you are not overly wordy.
  • ALWAYS proofread before submitting.  There is nothing more embarrassing than seeing an obvious typo after you have sent in your resume.
These tips should help you get a good start on your resume building.  Of course, there are worlds of resume tips out there, so feel free to share any ideas you have found have worked for you in the past.


  1. The best way to do this is create the main resume as a starting point. It is use to find a nonprofit position that seems appealing, you would then make the necessary changes to it that will best appeal to that company.
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  2. I definitely agree with your thoughts. You don't have to use and concentrate on by using only one resume. You have to create several resume according to the job position you are applying to and functional resume samples is a great tool to help you create an outstanding CV.