The jobs market is hard. There are thousands – if not millions – of people out there looking for jobs at every level, and so wherever you turn, you’ll find competition. You need to find every edge possible if you’re going to beat everyone else and get the position you’ve always wanted, and that starts with landing an interview. To get an interview, you need a great resume.
Resume writing is one of those little tasks that everyone has to do now and then, but so many people get wrong. There are entire websites and newspaper articles devoted to the worst resumes people have ever seen, and it would be hugely embarrassing to end up on there – not to mention how harmful it would be for your career prospects!
Although there are many websites out there offering you advice on how to write a resume, you’ve had the good fortune to arrive at ours. Writing a resume shouldn’t be a difficult, layered task – it just needs to be effective and sharp. We’ve broken that down into a few stages. Follow the plan, get your resume sent into your prospective new employer, and wait for the call!
- Start With The Headlines
Your CV or resume has to start with a bang. People who work in HR and recruitment are, by design, very busy people. They often don’t read a resume in full if they don’t like what they see at the start of it. In actuality, the average recruiter spends less than thirty seconds reading each CV they receive. If all of your hard-hitting material is at the bottom of the page, you’ve wasted your time writing it. It needs to be at the top.
The first thing that should go on a resume is all of your contact information, in full. Don’t bother writing an objective or mission statement – it’s obvious what your objective is; you want a job. Instead, summarize the entire content of your resume in no more than three or four sentences. Think of it as an extended Twitter bio, but one that’s completely professional, and will entice the recipient to read more. The effect you’re going for is something that would make you want to click on a link if you saw it online.
- Show More Than You Tell
Resumes are generally full of people making bold claims, but not offering any evidence. “I’m a great communicator.” “I’m an effective team manager.” You might be, but where’s the proof? Everyone who’s applying for the role is likely to be making the same claims. Instead of making as many claims as possible, pick out two or three key traits which you’re confident with, and make a point. Instead of “I’m an effective team manager,” try “I’ve managed a team of ten people, and overseen an increase in productivity of 25% compared to performance in the six months prior to my appointment. I achieved this by acting as a single point of contact between upper management and employees, and eliminating unnecessary or obstructive tasks from schedules.” You’ve given enough information there to show that you can make a difference, and you can expand on the specifics during an interview.
- Choose Your Words Carefully
If you have just one resume, and you send that same resume out to all your prospective employers, you’re doing it wrong. A resume should be tailored to the company or individual who receives it. A company recruiting new staff will tell you exactly what they want in their job specification, and in doing so, they’ll use a set of keywords repeatedly. The language they use in their recruitment posts will reflect the language and culture of the organization, so reflect it back at them to show that you belong there. If they’re talking about workflow management, and you’re talking about workload prioritization, you’re not speaking their language even though you’re talking about the same idea. If the work tasks you’ve done in the past are similar to the experience traits your recruiter is looking for, make it clear in the text of your resume.
- Be Selective With Your Employment History
Your entire resume should fit on one page. As we’ve already said, employers will spend less than thirty seconds looking at it, and so the second page will likely never be read. This might be difficult if you have a long employment history covering numerous different companies and positions, so be selective. In all likelihood, your new employer is only really interested in the past three to five years of your working life at most.
It makes sense to detail the past couple of positions you’ve had – so long as they cover that timeframe – and then offer further employment history on request. This is doubly important if you’ve moved around a lot in a short space of time. Employers don’t often like candidates who approach employment like an online casino, or it’s sister site, – moving around from game to game, trying it for a while, and then moving on to another game if they don’t like the rewards they’re getting from it. That strategy might maximize your chances of taking something away from a casino game, but it doesn’t work in the workplace. It says that you’re not committed to staying in a job for the long haul, and you’re likely to move on quickly if you believe the grass is greener elsewhere.
- Stay Clear Of Gimmicks
By this point, you should have put together a fairly strong resume. It should start with a strong paragraph introducing yourself, it should contain a list of skills with specific examples that justify their conclusion, it should be written in a style of language which matches the employer’s own, and it should offer a selective window into your employment history. The final step is not to ruin it.
There are a lot of ways to ruin a strong resume, and font selection is a major one. Needless to say, this resume shouldn’t be in Comic Sans. Nor should it be in block capitals, in large type, or covered in bold text (other than headings). Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri is fine. Resist the urge to be quirky. Don’t include images unless it’s necessary to do so. Don’t use colloquial language to make yourself ‘stand out’ – you can showcase all of your uniqueness at the interview stage. The job of your resume is to get your foot in the door for that interview, and you won’t achieve it by coming across as unprofessional.
That’s all there is to it. We can’t promise you an interview every time – the strength of your employment and qualification history will dictate that – but you should now have a modern, potent, and professional resume on your hands. We wish you all the best in putting it to good use!
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