The resume you writw is paramount to getting the job you want. Creating a resume can be very intimidating, but after reading this guide, you'll feel confident in creating your very best resume.
What is a resume then ?
When applying for a new job or embarking on a career change, your resume is often the first thing that a potential employee sees. A resume is a written document that provides details of your employment history, education, accomplishments, skills, and qualifications. It is typically submitted in combination with a cover letter, and it will be used by hiring managers and HR professionals to decide if you are a suitable candidate for an interview.
In short, it determines your eligibility for a position that you are applying for within a company, as well as your potential salary. With most resumes only being viewed for a few seconds, yours must make an instant impression. There are useful resume building tools available online, and this handy guide to resume writing should help you in creating a professional resume.
Moreover, it is essential to include the skills that your potential new employer will need to decide your eligibility. Areas that should be included are:
- Contact information - Name, full address, phone number, and email address
- Career summary or objective - One or two lines describing your career goals or targeted career objectives
- Work history - A brief description of prior roles and experience, including job titles, responsibilities and descriptions of your duties and achievements
- Education – A list of all qualifications and dates, including any awards or individual honors received
- Additional skills - Any special skills or certifications relevant to the position, including work-specific training or a second language, which can be prime topics for negotiation
- References - Names, locations and contact information of previous employers, managers or supervisors that can verify your suitability for the role, which is where networking come into play
A resume should be purposefully brief—one to two pages long—and not to be confused with a CV, which is a much more detailed document. It provides a higher level of candidate information, along with more details about qualifications.
Researching a resume
It is always worth assessing the competition when attempting to apply for a new position. Many job sites now contain areas where you may search and view other people's stored resumes by specific roles or city. This can provide you with valuable insights into the information candidates are offering and can also be useful in obtaining salary information. It will also offer ideas on how to choose the best format and an appropriate template for your resume.
Consider the position you are applying for and review other job advertisements for the same position. What skills are they looking for on your resume? Are your qualifications appropriate? Answering these questions will be valuable in helping you to compile the best resume possible.
Writing your resume
Header with contact information - Even though this is the most basic piece of information, it is amazing how many resumes lack contact information. Make sure you are providing your phone number and email address. You can have the best resume in the world, but it will be useless if the employer has no means by which to contact you.
Professional title and resume summary - Include your current title and provide a brief overview of your role, responsibilities, and achievements.
Skill matching - Carefully examine the position advertised and identify the skills and requirements that the company will target. Then you can creatively weave these into your resume in a way that sounds natural to the reader.
Keywords and action verbs - Use of the correct keywords and action verbs can assist in the selection of your resume. Keywords demonstrate the skills and qualifications you possess, while action verbs speak to your ability to be successful in the advertised position. Use verbs like accomplished, developed, and managed.
Achievements - Describe the successes and results which are relevant to the position. This is your time to demonstrate how you are the best leader or the most efficient organizer and, most importantly, to show how you can be an asset to the company.
Software competencies and language proficiencies - If you have technical skills or applicable software skills, make sure you let your employer know that. If you have experience in an industry-specific software or are an expert user in spreadsheet packages, then it should be included on your resume. If you can speak, write or translate a second language, you should also add that information.
Font and color theme – Take a moment to consider what font you will use for your resume. With the time spent reviewing each resume being so limited, you must use an easy-to-read typeface. It is best for resume purposes to stay with classic fonts such as Times New Roman, Helvetica, and Arial.
Keep the color theme for your resume to a simple black text on white paper. You can use a highlight color such as blue or green, very sparingly. Stay away from colorful text and paper combinations, as it just doesn't look professional.
Now that you have completed your resume and have created a professional representation of yourself take the time to proofread. Many great resumes can fall by the wayside due to avoidable and straightforward grammatical or phrasing errors. Make sure that the spelling is correct, and that the sentences are constructed correctly. Your resume should be easy to read while providing pertinent information accurately.
Printing and saving
Once completed, your resume should be saved with the right title and in the correct format. The file should be saved in .doc and .pdf formats and named appropriately. Naming your resume simply as "resume.doc" or "bobsresume.doc" isn't advisable. Take the opportunity to let the employer know who the resume belongs to at first glance. Using your full name is a safe bet, and you can also promote yourself even further. "BobSmith - Business Analyst.doc" is a great way to communicate who you are and what you do before the hiring manager even opens your document.
Typical mistakes and tips on avoiding
Irrelevant experience - During proofreading, it is also an excellent time to make sure that all the information you are including is entirely relevant for the position for which you are applying. While it is commendable that you hold first place in your neighborhood's fantasy football league, it's probably not a deciding factor in the management position that interests you. Don't be afraid to edit and cull any information that does not directly speak to the role. Keep it relevant.
Not explaining a gap - While it can be awkward to explain any employment gaps, it is still better to provide information, rather than leave a blank. If you were unemployed for a while or took time off due to an illness, then document that. Try to turn it into a positive by highlighting positive traits that you learned during a challenging time.
Layout and organization - Your resume should look simple, clean, and pleasing to the eye. If you have multiple prior roles in your work history section, be sure to list them in chronological order from most recent to the oldest. Once again, stay away from loud colors and fancy fonts. You are going for professional, sophisticated, and clean.
Grammatical errors and typos - It was mentioned earlier in the article, but it's worth mentioning again. Errors in grammar and typos are the single biggest resume killer. The best resume on the planet will head immediately for the trash if it contains spelling mistakes or typing errors. Take the time to proofread. You can even have a friend or relative look it over, as a fresh set of eyes often picks up errors that you can't see. You should also use a spellchecker.
While hundreds of resumes can be received for any one job posting, it is possible to set yourself apart from the crowd by following these simple guidelines. Take time to check your resume thoroughly and critically review your work. Does it say what you want? Does it reflect your achievements accurately? Does it portray you in the best possible light to a future employer? If the answer to these questions is "yes." then you have a solid resume that you can use to apply for future positions.