Like many HR people, I am often asked for resume writer recommendations. Some jobseekers want information on resume services or  coaches and are hoping for a ‘magic pill’ that results in an immediate job offer.

Yet even those who understand what information is needed to create a useful resume are surprised by the questions a good resume writer will ask. Most start with 35-60 questions you must answer in depth.

The Do It Yourself Approach

Start with a blank page or file. Take your time to fully answer these few questions from resume writers. These will get you started on creating that smart resume you need. If you’ve already written your resume, consider whether you have really answered the following questions.

At this stage, you should go into as much detail as possible. Cutting it down will come when you write the resume.  Write out your answers.  Let them rest and go back and improve or add to each one.  This may take several efforts to complete.

1. List 3-4 specific positions, by job title, which you are targeting.

2. For each position of interest: list all the critical skills, experience, and knowledge most commonly required to succeed.

3. What is your desired industry? Why? List 10-12 companies you are targeting and why you chose each.

4. What are your key strengths for the positions which you are targeting?

5. For each position you have held in the past decade, define 6 – 8 specific achievements which are relevant to the position(s) you now seek to move into. Note each achievement should state the task you faced, the actions you took, and the results of your actions.

6. For each of your most recent three positions, show how your work specifically contributed to the success of your work unit, function, and if possible the organization.

7. Which experiences, skills, or education do you want to highlight in this resume? Why are you choosing those?

8. What do you offer an employer that is different from what other candidates offer? Be specific using skills and achievements which you know are valued by each target employer.

9. What feedback have you received, formally or informally, about your recent performance? What does it offer which may be important to your job search?  What have you done with that feedback which might be included in your resume?

10. What actions have you taken within the past five years to ensure you were growing your skills, professional abilities, and knowledge? How effective was each choice?

This small sample of questions, based on common ones asked by top resume writers, will provide you with the basics to create an effective resume — if you take the time to really answer each question.

The next step, which is to distill all this information into one or two pages, will test your ability to focus on the most important elements of your background to the target employers you have selected.