Resume writing is a skill that often needs more mastering. Whether you’ve got years of experience up your sleeve or newly joining the workforce, your chance of landing an interview is much more likely if you have a killer resume to show off your education, skills and experience.
After all, a resume is often the very first point of contact between you and your next potential employer. It’s the first impression you get to make, and with a well-written professional resume, it could be one of many more to come.
If you don’t know any other tips for writing a resume, follow these…
- Take out the objective. This is one of the quickest things you can do to improve your resume, and one of the first things to check. You can cover your desire for the role in your cover letter, or if you’re changing industries, it may be useful to include a brief introductory summary in the resume instead.
- Focus on the top-third of your resume. Regardless of whether you are crunched for time, or have hours to spend writing and formatting, the top-third of your resume is the most critical. Since recruiters only spend a few minutes reviewing each resume during the first pass-through, the top portion of your resume needs to be impressive.
- Brief is best. Give more space to detail about your current or recent jobs and less about the past. If it doesn’t fit on one to two pages – it’s not worth writing about! Make sure you include specific skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, even if that means adjusting your resume for each new application
- Sprinkle accomplishments throughout your resume. While it’s important to include responsibilities on your resume, the focus should be on accomplishments. Most position titles give a decent idea of what the job entails; just add a few descriptive sentences about your responsibilities. Sprinkle your best accomplishments throughout your resume; employers want to know what you did to excel in your job and go beyond just the outline position description.
- Add numbers and percentages (when appropriate and helpful). Numbers and percentages provide employers with the scope of your responsibility, as well as insight into your accomplishments. But don’t overdo it – only add numbers when appropriate and helpful. Knowing how much you brought in in sales each month would be super relevant.
- Make it precise and direct. Use simple text in one modern, standard font that is easy to read, and that everyone can understand. Avoid writing in first or third person. For example, instead of writing “I managed a team of four”, or “Michelle managed a team of four” rather write “responsible for managing a team of 4” in concise bullet points below headlines where necessary.
- Make a pass on unnecessary info. That includes your age, marital status, religion, or nationality. This might have been the standard in the past, but all this information is now illegal for your employer to ask you, and no need to include it. For security reasons we suggest that you don’t include your date of birth, and definitely not your bank account details. As for an address, a suburb and postcode will suffice.
- Be professional and discreet. You may still be using the same email address that you set up in the 90’s, but if it’s anything that looks unprofessional, it might be worth your while setting up a new one for the purpose of your job applications. Avoid using your current work email address, or phone number for that matter, unless you want to get yourself into trouble!
- Keep up with the employer’s submission requirements. Above all, you won’t get noticed if you don’t follow all of the specific requirements that have been instructed in the job posting or description. Often both resumes and cover letters are requested in a certain file format (doc, pdf, docx, rtt). Sometimes advertisements request applications be sent or addressed in a particular way. Comply to these, and you’ll be one step ahead of any other applicants who didn’t bother to tune into this detail!
- Remove “References available upon request.” It’s assumed that references will be available upon request, otherwise why would you be applying for a job if you weren’t willing to dish out a few references?
Bonus Tip: If you have an actual list of references at the end of your resume, you can scratch those, too. Instead, fill that newly blank space with another accomplishment or two!
- Ensure your resume font is clean and consistent. Avoid using cluttered or complicated layouts with headers, footers, tables or other items that may not look right when viewed on different computers with varying software versions. Body text should be no smaller than 10 point (my preference is 11 point) and headers should be in the 14 – 16 point range. Use capitalization, bold, and italicize consistently (i.e., all position titles bolded, all dates italicized)