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Chances are you have folders, binders, and notepads bursting with information about your education and employment history. Old offer letters and performance evaluations might be stuffed in drawers along with job descriptions you never look at twice. You probably have a traditional resume of no more than two pages completed, but it's probably not as strong as it could be. Many jobseekers minimize their chances of finding a good job because they haven't truly evaluated their worth. Creating an annotated resume will put in perspective who you are professionally and what you have truly accomplished.
An annotated resume is your career on paper. Like an annotated bibliography, it comprises summaries and reflections on details. The annotated resume lists thoughts about your objectives, goals, skills, education, experience, and references. This resume is for your own benefit -- you don't send an annotated resume to potential employers. It's a private matter, your professional diary, which represents a career catalog with all pertinent information readily available, from promotions to pay grade. Annotated resumes follow traditional formats, but contain personal annotations reflecting circumstances of each element, and can grow quite long.
An annotated resume lists your career goals in lieu of a typical objective statement. Think about where you see yourself in five, ten, and twenty years. Write these goals down. Research how you achieved your past goals and apply some insight into your future plans.
List all awards. They all matter. You probably won't understand the significance of a past employee of the month certificate, for example, until you list all your awards and write a brief statement for each, explaining where you received it and what you wanted to accomplish with it. Things come into focus once you lay out your achievements and give them voice. This is the purpose of annotation -- it allows your accomplishments to speak for themselves, and shows progression.
This section will probably take the most time. Review your job descriptions and employee evaluations. List and annotate each skill, describing how you learned them, no matter how minute some of them may seem. This will give you insight into your ability to learn and adapt, and it might provide you with more bullet points to list in the accomplishments section of your traditional resume.
The education section can be split into two parts: degrees and certificates of completion. List your degrees, where you acquired them, dates, and motivations for seeking them in the first place. Arrange your certificates in chronological order, below the degrees. Include all of them, even the certificate of completing that typing course for that clerk position you took when you were 19, and how each one impacted your career. All certificates have had some type of impact or they wouldn't exist. Reflect carefully.
List every job. This might be a tough section to complete if you've been working for most of your life and/or you've worked many jobs. Search through all your documentation meticulously. You should list all relevant information including the name of the company, address, phone number, name of position, start date, end date, supervisor's name, starting pay, and ending pay. Write down all duties and a concise description of each company. An annotated resume gives you freedom. Take advantage of its privacy and give yourself the accolades you deserve in taking note of everything you've accomplished. Don't forget to include volunteer work and community activities.
Compile a small database of references. List names, titles, addresses, phone numbers, and years known. Annotate your relationship with each reference and note what is meaningful about each one. Make sure they are credible. You might find that you missed a valuable reference when completing your last job application.
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.
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