Résumé Writing: Using a Partner to Get Unstuck

Many people find it difficult to write about themselves when preparing a resume, and the importance of having a compelling resume in today’s tough employment market isn’t making the task any easier.

Teaming up with a partner to work on each other’s resume can help, particularly on the qualifications summary or other introductory statement, which is often the most challenging part of a resume. To help students get over this hurdle, have them pair off and start by providing each other with the basic facts about qualifications, work histories, education, and career objectives. Then have them meet in person or online for an informal interview, in which they ask each other questions to flesh out the data they have on each other.

With that information in hand, each student then writes a qualifications summary for his or her partner. (The qualifications summary is usually the best type of introductory statement for student resumes. The classic career objective is falling out of fashion, and most students don’t have a long enough professional history to write a meaningful career summary.)

Students then review what their partners have written about them, asking themselves whether it feels true to what they believe about themselves and their career aspirations, whether it introduces them effectively to potential employers, and how it might be improved.

In addition to making progress toward a completed resume, this activity gives students the opportunity to practice a number of vital skills, including active listening, constructive feedback, and self-awareness (comparing one’s self image with another person’s perspective).

If you use this exercise or a similar partner-writing exercise, we invite you to share your experiences and insights.