A resume is basically a tool with one specific purpose: to win an interview. It should be a combination of a sales brochure and a list of facts - it should accurately describe its writer’s achievements while at the same time encouraging the reader to feel positive and interested in what it has to say. As a rule the simpler it is the better and a good clean, easy to understand layout will hopefully ensure it gets read to the end rather than discarded after a few sentences.
The appearance and functionality of your resume should be foremost in your mind. Fancy designs or fonts, clever remarks or unconventional layout will not generally score you any points and could actually have the opposite effect.
Before you start writing your resume, get yourself organized and consider the following:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Who is your audience?
- What do these people really need to know about you?
What are you trying to acheive
When you have finished writing your resume it should achieve the following.
Present you in
the best light
- Present you in the best light.
- Convince the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career.
- Be so pleasing to the eye that the reader is enticed to pick up and read it.
- Stimulate their interest in meeting you and learning more about you.
- Inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview.
Who is your audience
Resumes generally go through two initial reviews - once with the Admin/HR department and once with a line manager of the department that you are applying to. The Admin/HR reviewer will be looking for simple things such as ensuring the basic minimum qualifications, skills sets and experience that the hiring manager has specified are stated. The line manager on the other hand, will be looking at a different set of requirements, such as the quality and type of company you worked for before, any add on value you may bring and other less definable points. Both will be turned off by a cluttered appearance and long winded descriptions. Think hard about your reader here. Make life easy for that person, who probably has to read thousands of resumes.
What do they need to know about you
Good organization is vital
in making a solid first
A resume competes for attention with other resumes and outside sources. When hiring, employers go through a skimming process looking at resumes to find best fits or applicants who are appropriate to their needs. They are not generally looking for "superstars." Managers will read only as far as their interest is maintained which is why good organization is vital in making a solid first impression.
- Make sure your name, telephone number, and complete address are easily identifiable at the top of page one.
- Use high-quality paper standard A4 size paper. Use a neutral shade, such as white, light grey, or buff.
- Aim for a clean, uncluttered look. Put the most important information near the top where it will be easy to find. Choose a font that is easy to read and ensure to leave enough empty space.
- Limit yourself to no more than 2 pages if possible, unless you need to cover a great deal of relevant experience.
- Don’t use photocopies of your resume. Print each copy on good paper with a printer - your resume will probably be duplicated several times each place you apply. Photocopies degrade quickly and look messy.
- Label each section clearly.
- Keep both work and educational experiences as short and precise as possible without compromising what you have achieved. If something needs to be explained in great detail, do it on a separate piece of paper.
- List the jobs you’ve held in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Do the same for schools and degrees in your education section. Include dates and locations.
- Just the facts. Instead of "I greatly contributed to the successful year our company had." write "I implemented a customer follow-up call policy that increased repeat business by 25%".
- Be positive. Show confidence in your abilities and experience. Don’t dwell on your shortcomings.
- Be honest and accurate.
- Always spellcheck. Then have a friend proofread both your cover letter and resume.
※For further information on what you should write and how you should present it please see our step by step guide to writing resumes.