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Writing Your Resume While Working from Home


A woman sitting at a desk with a laptop.


​Your resume is a succinct history of your experience for a specific target job, which means you need to jam a lot of relevant information into as short a narrative as you can. Every word needs to pack a punch. Writing short is hard.

With 1 in 5 workers job hunting, you need a resume that gets results. But with all the stress and worry that the pandemic and job search create, you may feel like an emotional basket case, your ego may have taken a blow if you've lost your job, and you're probably more isolated and therefore lonelier than ever before. This is not ideal timing to write that killer resume to get your career back on track.

I became a full-time writer 30 years ago, which has been awesome, but it also made me a full-time recluse. That's just the nature of the work. Here's how I learned to deal with the isolation and the lack of camaraderie and found the self-discipline I needed to keep working.

Writer's Block

An experienced and professional resume writer will easily take two or three days to write a decent resume. Only so much writing can be done in a day, and writing something short and succinct is harder than writing without concern for length.

The professional writer usually puts in two to four hours a day on a specific resume before changing to a fresh project, and that's because it is a marathon task. Pace yourself.

A conscientious effort on your part may well take you more than two or three days, but don't worry about the time. Your future well-being depends in large part on your resume's quality. Spread the work over as many days as it takes, with the other hours spent on improving job-search and interview tactics and otherwise getting organized.

Once you think your resume is done, run a spell-check but don't send it to any prospective employers for at least 24 hours. Then read the target job description you've based your resume on and review your new resume again. If you read it objectively, the odds are you'll see it needs more work.

Rewriting, Proofing and Strengthening Your Resume

Tackle your rewriting strategically, and break the big job of creating a top-notch resume into smaller steps:

  • Compare your draft against your target job description to ensure your focus is tight. Does each phrase relate back to the job description? Are you using the right keywords?
  • Run a spell-check at the end of every writing shift, but recognize that spell-check can make some horrible goofs.
  • Review possible resume templates.
  • Double-check all dates of degrees and employment.
  • Quantify any achievements that you can.
  • Don't start your LinkedIn profile until your resume is complete so that there are no inconsistencies between the two.
  • Get a separate telephone number to use exclusively for your job search.
  • Create an e-mail address for your job search.
  • Recognize that you don't have to sit in one place all day. A change of environment can make a significant difference to your frame of mind.

Be Kind to Yourself

Job searching is stressful. Pace yourself. Take breaks to go outside or do a different task for 30 minutes. I mow the lawn or do something else physical and repetitive. The mechanical nature of these rhythmical activities frees my mind to subconsciously work on the problem that stumped me at my desk. Try it. Often, you'll have the solution when you return. If not, focus on another task related to jump-starting your career.

Once the resume really is finished, send copies to trusted professional friends and seek their input. You'll be glad you did for the feedback and the connectivity.

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR

From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

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