With the staggering amount of resumes that prospective employers have to sift through, how can you stand out from the crowd and write a great resume?
It has been reported that if you don’t capture the reader’s attention in the first six seconds, your application will probably be tossed out. Therefore, it is crucial for you to draft your resume with the utmost care and attentiveness. A good resume should effectively summarise your job experience, education, skills and awards for the potential employer.
Without further ado, here are some useful strategies to write a great resume and hopefully land you your ideal job.
1. Use a Resume Template
You can start writing a great resume by using a template resume.
Having a template to work off makes it easier for you to structure your resume. Furthermore, it takes care of the formatting and alignment issues so that you can focus on the actual content of the resume.
Resume templates can be found from a variety of sources.
Firstly, there are professional resume templates from applications such as Google Docs, Apple Pages and Microsoft Word. You can also find numerous free resume templates online with a simple Google search.
If you wish to incorporate images and designs in your resume, you can consider other templates based on Photoshop and InDesign as well. The latter would be more relevant if you are applying for jobs in graphic design, photography or technology.
Another good way of getting a resume template is to ask your friends for their resumes. It may be useful to obtain a resume template from someone has successfully procured a job similar to the one you are applying for.
2. Key Sections to Include in a Resume
You should include your contact information in your resume to make it easy for your potential employer to reach out to you. Other than your name, you should provide your mailing address, email and mobile phone number. You can even provide a link to your LinkedIn profile or personal website if you want to give more personal details.
The work experience section is where you elaborate on your employment history.
This section should give the employer a sense of your career development and choices. This presents the perfect opportunity to showcase the skills you have gained over the course of your career. You can even highlight the key initiatives and activities that you were involved in and what you learnt from them.
However, you don’t need to exhaustively list all your previous jobs. Instead, you should list jobs that you feel are relevant to the position you are applying for. In this regard, you may wish to exclude previous part-time stints you undertook or completely unrelated jobs.
The academic qualifications section is for your prospective employers to determine whether you fulfil the educational requirements for the job. In some cases, having a degree or diploma in a specific field is a basic pre-requisite for the position.
Employers generally hone in on any university degrees or diplomas you have received. Therefore, you should present these details clearly and prominently. You can state the degree you have obtained, whether you obtained any honours, the school you attended and your year of graduation. You can also highlight important subjects which you took in school that are relevant to your job application.
Awards and Achievements
In this section of your resume, you would talk about your awards you have received. You can build upon any job-specific achievements such as best employee or top salesmen awards. Further, you can elaborate on any competitions you’ve won such as hackathons or academic prizes.
Nevertheless, this section is entirely optional. You may not want to include this section if you don’t have many awards or achievements to your name.
The skills section relate to your hard, technical skills, rather than your soft skills. This section should disclose your proficiency in programs like Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint. Moreover, you can include additional skills in areas such as copywriting, data analytics, graphic design and so on.
These skills can be included in your resume even if you picked them up on your own. For instance, you can insert in your resume coding skills that you learnt from online courses. While you may not have received formal training in these skills, putting them in your resume shows your willingness to learn and a commitment to your personal development.
Hobbies or Interests
The section on your hobbies or interests is useful for showcasing what you like to do outside of work. However, this section is not strictly needed in a resume. Much depends on the company you are applying to work for.
If you wish to work at a company with a more open and diverse culture, then you may decide to add this section. Having unique interests outside of work may also create a good conversation topic. It may even allow you and your job interviewer an opportunity to connect over shared hobbies and interests.
Conversely, if you are applying to a job in a profession such as law or accounting, you may not want to state your hobbies and interests.
3. Use a Combination of the Reverse Chronological and Functional Approaches
As a general rule, you should adopt the reverse chronological approach throughout your resume. This means that you should list your most recent work experience and qualifications first, followed by the older ones.
Ultimately, employers want to know what your most recent job or qualification is. They may not be as concerned about the job you took five years ago as opposed to five months ago.
However, you can choose to use the functional approach in place of the reverse chronological method under some circumstances.
The functional approach involves putting the more relevant information about yourself first.
This is usually used when you wish to underscore the important experience or skills that you have that are useful for the job role. You can also use the functional approach to highlight the transferrable skills you have developed in previous work stints.
You can also use the functional approach where you were unemployed for an extended period of time. Using a reverse chronological method in such cases would only make your period of unemployment all the more conspicuous.
4. Show Your Soft Skills and Key Characteristics
Decide on some of the soft skills and characteristics you want to demonstrate. Then, devise ways of using your resume to show (not simply state) your soft skills.
After all, saying outright that you are a team player is not very effective. Instead, to show your ability to work in a team, you can say that you “worked closely with team members to spearhead a new initiative” in your previous job. This not only tells the reader what you achieved in your previous role, it also describes a key quality or characteristic that you possess.
5. Use Action Verbs Throughout Your Resume
Action verbs make your resume more engaging and impactful. Furthermore, strategic use of action verbs can also emphasise on your contributions. Hence, you should employ action verbs throughout descriptions and paragraphs in your resume.
So what are some action verbs?
Some examples include “executed”, “corresponded”, “orchestrated” and “established”. For a more comprehensive list, you can take reference from the following website.
6. Avoid Using Industry Jargon Excessively
Your resume should be easily understood by a layperson. This is because the recruiter or hiring manager handling your application may not have a technical background. As such, you should avoid using industry jargon in excess.
A little bit of jargon may be used if you are applying for a position that requires extensive technical knowledge. This may possibly apply to fields like finance or engineering.
In such cases, careful placement of a few key technical terms could make you seem a little more knowledgeable. Nonetheless, this should be done in moderation and should not affect the overall readability of your resume.
7. Proofread for Glaring Grammatical Errors and Typos
Grammatical and typographical errors look very unprofessional and leaves a bad impression on the reader. It shows one of two things. Either that that you are not meticulous enough to spot these mistakes or you simply didn’t put in the effort to perfect your resume. Hence, you should proofread your resume thoroughly to ensure you don’t make obvious grammatical errors or typos.
As the writer of your resume, you may become blind to glaring mistakes as you’ve read through it numerous times. Therefore, you can consider getting another set of eyes to take a look at your resume. In fact, you can ask trusted friends or family members to help proofread your resume.
8. Use a Nice-Looking Font and Font Size
Your resume should look neat and professional to prospective employers. Therefore, it is important to use a clean-looking font such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. In addition, the size of the font should ideally be around 10 to 12 point. This is to enhance the readability of the resume, without the reader having to strain their eyes to read your resume.
9. Save Your Resume in PDF Format
You should always save and send your resume in PDF format. If you use formats such as Microsoft Word, you run the risk of your document having formatting or alignment issues due to software compatibility problems. This creates a very bad impression on the part of the reader, even if the issues arose due to no fault on your part.
10. Customise Your Resume
Do some research on your prospective employer. Find out what kind of employee they are looking for.
Then, based on your research, you can customise your resume to highlight qualities that make you suitable for the job. This may improve your chances in the eyes of the reader as you appear to check all the boxes for the potential position. It may also demonstrate to the potential employer that you put in the effort to find out the job requirements and incorporated them into your resume accordingly.
11. Make Sure Your Information is Presented Clearly and Concisely
As mentioned before, employers have limited time to skim through a huge amount of job applications. Therefore, you should present your information clearly and concisely to capture their attention.
You can also make use of bullet points to illustrate the key points of your resume. This enables the reader to quickly understand your significant work experience and qualifications with just a brief scan of your resume.
12. Consider Using a Visume
If you wish to differentiate yourself from other job applicants, you can consider complementing your paper resume with a Visume. A Visume is a video resume that allows you show parts of you that cannot be captured on paper. For instance, a Visume will allow the potential employer to observe your mannerisms and hear how you speak. This may be helpful especially if your paper resume is not very impressive and you wish to supplement it using another means.
13. Keep Your Resume Short
Apart from keeping the content of your resume concise, you should also limit your resume to 1 to 2 pages. At the end of the day, you want to zero in on your key achievements and qualities. You should not be putting every single thing that comes to mind.
The reader would be turned off if you make them read lengthy, irrelevant passages or a written documentary of your entire life. Thus, you should always strive to keep your resume short and to the point.