Resume Writing: The Ultimate Guide on How to Do It Right
October 5, 2018
When you apply for a job position for the first time, the potential employer has very little information to start with.
If a job is attractive, there will be lots of people applying for it. The competition will make it even harder for an employer to go through all this information. This is why a resume or CV is such an important element of each job application.
A Resume is used to summarise one’s career. Starting from your name and address, then contact information, education and ultimately your professional experience, it compiles all the information about you as a potential employee.
In this ultimate guide, we will go through all the things you have to know when creating a resume. Read on!
Why is a resume so important?
People often have a misconception of resume. They think it is nothing more than a piece of paper or a file where they place their education and previous work experience. But, CV is so much more than that!
First and foremost, it’s a marketing tool.
Resume allows you to sell yourself to a company or an entrepreneur. With it, you present yourself in the best light possible placing emphasis on skills and knowledge that will allow you to perform a job efficiently.
Unlike popular opinion, quality and not quantity is the main reason why people would want to employ you. Having the required skills for a position and presenting them in a good way is how you land interviews.
Here are some things that a resume reveals about you:
- Whether or not you can perform a job
- If you fit the organisation’s mission and vision
- Your professional experience
- Your level of education
- If you’re a good long-term choice for the company
Every information in your resume is important. If employers see at least one thing they don’t like, you might have trouble getting the job. In fact, this may become a reoccurring thing ultimately affecting your confidence making you think you cannot be employed.
But this isn’t true. Everyone can get a good job with the right resume.
Read the rest of the article to learn how to create a resume that will help you get any type of job.
8 Main elements of a resume
Resumes can vary significantly in their form.
Today, people do all sorts of things to get noticed by successful organisations. Some of them will create virtual resumes, others would customise their social profiles in order to attract more attention while some people will be very aggressive pursuing a job.
No matter what type of medium you use, certain things remain the same. Most notably, the layout of the resume.
Here are some of the most important categories of information and in which order they’re presented:
- Contact information
- Opening statement
- Work experience
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Languages and computer skills
- Additional interests and awards
Keep in mind that you should modify your CV each time you apply for a new job. Certain information will be redundant for particular positions. Sometimes, you might want to add more details. It all depends.
Resume layout also varies from country to country.
While there are some general rules and preferences, there are still lots of variations. No matter what you do, you have to keep in mind that resumes are used to intrigue a person. In that sense, you need to present the information as if you’re telling the employer your professional story. Every piece of information has to be relevant and ultimately lead to employment.
Now, let’s go through most important elements of your professional resume and how you can improve them.
1. Contact information
No matter what you do, your contact information always goes first. The same way you would say your name during the introduction, contact data is used to tell the employer who you are. Here, you need to include your full name, email address and phone number. Sometimes, you will have to add your home address too. This will show an employer that you are eligible for employment in a particular city or area. If you’re applying for international jobs, you should also include your country of origin. No matter what you do, don’t add marital status or age as this might lead to issues. This is mainly so that an employer can check whether or not you’re eligible to work in their country. While contact details are pretty straightforward, they might be a detriment in certain cases. Don’t put contact information in the header or footer of your CV as ATS software has a hard time reading data from these sections.
2. Opening statement
The opening statement is perhaps the most important section of a resume together with work experience. In this section, you write a little bit about yourself, your education as well as professional experience. You have to place focus on how you will be able to help a company and how they can benefit from your work. Basically, you have to sell yourself to the employer. Not only does this section show that you’re the right candidate but it also creates a more intimate connection between your and the recruiter. Try to sound professional, objective and refrain from using “I” and “me”.
In today’s day and age, education has less impact than it used to have before. This is mostly due to the fact that you can accumulate lots of knowledge by learning online. Still, for certain jobs, it is necessary to have graduated a good university. Naturally, you can’t and shouldn’t alter any of this information. Make sure to provide valid data as this is something that can easily be checked. Latest (or most relevant) education should be placed on the top of the list. You should include all the courses and seminars you attended, especially those which are important for a particular position.
4. Work experience
A general rule when it comes to work experience is to first mention your most recent jobs. This will help recruiters sort out the information and see what was the last position you worked on. In most cases, people get more responsibilities and better positions as they progress during their careers. In that sense, your last employment will probably be the best representation of your expertise. If you had lots of different jobs during your career, make sure to put only those that are relevant and show you in the best light. On the flipside, if you had limited experience, you can refer to various part-time jobs and even volunteering. Always focus on positions that are similar to one that you’re applying for. Make sure to describe them as well as your responsibilities and achievements.
5. Strengths and weaknesses
This section doesn’t refer to your technical or lingual skills. Instead, you talk about your main characteristics as a person. Certain positions may require patient, disciplined people while other may require creative individuals. Either way, this section can help establish whether you have the right persona for the job. In most cases, based on the job you’re applying for, you can determine which type of behavior is good and which isn’t. This way, you can place emphasis on the type of behavior which is required while downplaying any negative characteristics. When presenting your flaws, you can show them in a way so that a recruiter thinks they can be remedied and controlled. Remember that you shouldn’t refer to characteristics that are the polar opposite to what the company is trying to accomplish.
6. Languages and computer skills
Today, lots of work is being done online. Due to globalisation, we have to cooperate with people from all over the world and oftentimes, to adapt to their language and customs. This is why languages are so important for the certain position. However, keep in mind that this is not always the case. There are certain professions that don’t require a savvy person. Still, knowing several foreign languages is always a plus. Same goes for computer skills. During your professional career, you will likely be forced to work with various types of software and adapt to their specifics. This is why you have to have at least some basic understanding of programs that are common for your profession.
7. Additional interests and awards
Most recruiters are split when it comes to achievements. To some, it might seem negative if you have too many interests outside of your job. They can consider them a distraction and in some cases, even prevent you from doing your job properly. This may also seem like a sign of ambition which isn’t always good. Try to name a few awards but don’t go overboard. When it comes to personal interests, this is a good way to tell a bit more about yourself. This section is especially important for people who had no prior work experience and need a job at all costs. If people from the HR department can relate to you, this will exponentially increase your chances of success.
Needless to say, you should always provide references from previous jobs. If there was a friction between you and the employer, the recruiter may ask you about it during the interview. No matter what, don’t lie or omit any information. References are a very good way for a company to establish whether or not you’re trustworthy enough for that position.
4 Additional considerations
Here are 4 additional considerations you have to keep in mind during the resume creation process:
1. Don’t make it too long
While having more information about you seems like a good idea, it isn’t always so. Bear in mind that for some positions, there will be hundreds and even thousands of candidates. You need to keep your CV short and sweet so that it’s more memorable. Focus on things that can help you while omitting those that won’t. With that being said, it is ideal if your resume is just one or two pages long.
2. Focus on keywords
Nowadays, companies use applicant tracking software (ATS) for sorting out resumes prior to interviews. After processing all resumes, these tools will create a list of the most desirable employees instantly eliminating lots of candidates. So, when writing your CV, make sure to add keywords that such software expects to find. These phrases have to be relevant to your profession. For example, if your applying for a position of bank teller ATS would expect to see phrases such as “bank teller”, “banking”, “finances” and so on. This tells the tool that you either had experience in the particular field or graduated a university that will give you the necessary knowledge to work in a bank.
3. Be mindful of formatting
While it may be good to experiment from time to time, most companies prefer their resumes to be readable. This saves them a lot of time and more importantly, they won’t get irritated while reading yours. Make sure to present the information in a proper way, with a suitable font so that a recruiter can easily read it. The best way to test it out is by reading it yourself.
4. Avoid personal information
As previously mentioned, there are certain things that you should probably avoid. Age, marital and military status are definitely such. While an employer will try to learn as much as possible about you, there are certain things that may backfire. Try to be selective as to what you will show them and in what way.
A good resume is meant to get you from point A to point B.
It is the best way to make the first impression but at the same time, it needs to be relevant and honest. While you can justify omitting some information, there is no excuse for lying in your CV. This is especially true when you apply for jobs in big companies as they usually do a thorough check of all their candidates.
But, as long as you follow the professional tips and tricks in this article, you shouldn’t have any issues. Take your time, consult with your colleagues and friends and you will have no trouble getting this great new job that you were yearning for!
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