How to write a resume – by reverse engineering the job posting

There is no globally recognized way to write a resume.  If found that the cleanest approach is to “reverse engineer” the job posting. The approach has, anecdotally provided strong results, and I thought I’d share in a post.


Start with a blank resume

Seems like a no-brainer. Take your resume and fill it with the administrative parts. Your name and contact info. Add headers with the administrative information of your experience (companies, titles, dates and education). Just the headers at this point.


Fill in the resume

Here is how the approach to write a resume might be different. I recommend that you take the job posting and go down the list of requirements and qualifications. Start with the first requirement and think about what experience best reflects that requirement. Keep in mind our top 5 resume feedback. More recent experience is better. Paid work experience is better. Achievements are better than just activities. Listing required experience as an activity is better than not listing it. If you’ve already started your career document, you’ll have a head start and can pick relevant experience and adjust with a few tweaks.
As you start filling up your experience areas and get to 2 lines of activities and 3 achievement bullets make sure you balance and fill other experience areas.  Use volunteer or academic experience For any requirements where you don’t have specific work related experience.


Polish the resume

If you have extra space, look at the responsibilities and see if you have appropriate experience to show you already have that experience. Also take a look at the values and mission of the company and take their words and tweak your existing experience to relate (i.e. If their values are innovation, world-class and social responsibility, see what of your experience could include those words).
If you have too much information to get to 1 page, then you should look to reduce your activities and achievements. Look for words that provide excessive detail (I.e. Did they really need to know it was PeopleSoft financials version 9.2 or would ERP financial system be enough?). If you really want a 2 page resume, that’s up to you.


Prep for next time

Merge any newly created material into your Career document to accelerate the creation of the next resume.
That’s it! I find This bottom-up approach works better as you’re focused on what’s relevant for the job posting vs what you feel is important!