Your Ticket To The Professional World
So you Google and dig out your old school/college notes; you find some great tips, some great examples, but the information is all overlapping and eventually you’re left even more confused about how to apply all that knowledge into one cohesive format.
That’s where this article comes in – all that info in one place, step by step.
These are the basics that every good résumé needs. Write out your own information as you read along. Don’t worry about the format yet, we’ll get to that later.
Usually at the top of the page, this is the first thing an employer will see. Make sure it’s easy to read and complete:
This includes a very brief paragraph (we’re talking 2-3 sentences) focusing on your skills, experience and passion – whilst still keeping to what the company wants. It should apply directly to the job description and demonstrate how you fit the employment needs, a powerful personal statement that summarises your most valuable skills and knowledge, who you are and what you offer.
Like an ‘elevator pitch in writing’, it should be short and to the point.
This not an ‘objective’ – an objective focuses on you specifically, whereas a headline focuses on what you can offer them. As an added plus, it is a fantastic basis for the interview favourite “Tell me about yourself”.
This is the most important part of your résumé; where you highlight any relevant work and/or volunteer experience you’ve had that relates to your desired position. Take the time to assess previously held positions and how the duties there helped you develop skills, strengths and competencies that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Use applicable terminology to indicate industry awareness – the keywords will also help your résumé stand out if it goes through an automated tracking system.
Focus on the past 10-15 years and only positions that relate to the position you’re applying for. ‘Sell’ what you bring to the table right now. Don’t mention salary – that will come up during the later stages of the interview.
Be specific and factual; compare ‘Increased spa revenue’ to ‘Increases retail sales by 15%’. Targeted accomplishment statements have more weight than if you were to tell them about yourself with adjectives (opinions). Keep it short and simple. You want to prove your value by showing the impact you made on previous employers.
If your most recent experience is not your most relevant experience, then break this section up into ‘Relevant Experience’ (with more bullet points to highlight your responsibilities and achievements) and ‘Additional Experience’.
Adding irrelevant work experience will harm rather than help your chances of landing the job.
If you’re a recent graduate then this is where you would highlight where you worked your practical hours during college, as well as any relevant projects and events you were involved in.
If you’re pretty new to the world of employment this section will come before your ‘Experience’.
Use keywords where you can.
If you’ve attended college or some form of higher education, then mentioning your high school is irrelevant.
Here you’re highlighting relevant technical and transferable skills and competencies in which you are experienced and have real knowledge of (not just book knowledge).
Languages you speak, experience with specialised equipment and other talents you have in specific areas can be added here.
These are optional and should only be included in your résumé if they add value to the story you’re building for the reader.
It gets a little tricky when it comes to references. Generally, when applying for a position at a large company you don’t include references in your résumé unless specifically requested. References are usually on a separate sheet ready to be handed in when asked.
If, however, you’re applying at a relatively small company where you’re not competing with hordes of others, or if you’re applying for a position that hasn’t been advertised and you’re just hoping for the best, then it is important that you do include references right from the get-go.
References are incredibly valuable and you’d be surprised at how diligently most companies check them. Treat them with respect by asking their permission first before using them as references, and then by keeping their contact information confidential unless needed. Make sure the references you list will give you a glowing recommendation. Oh, and that does NOT mean you can use your mum as a reference. Family members are a no-no.
Crafting the perfect résumé will be a lot easier now that you’ve got the relevant information ready.
Fonts and Typefaces
Your font sets the tone and says something about who you are, so it’s important to choose something that both reflects you as well as your professionalism.
The fonts to use which are appropriate for résumés:
Serif fonts have ‘tails’.
Sans serif fonts don’t have tails and look slightly more block-like. They look modern, clean and ready to impress.
Let me give you a moment of levity by stating that my very first CV was 8 pages long. 8 pages! It had all the relevant information, as well as some glaringly obvious irrelevant info. Soooo much wasted space and, quite frankly, it was boring to read.
So how should it be formatted instead?
A great source of résumé templates is HERE.
Grammar and Spelling
Check, check and check again.
It’s usually easier to pick up on spelling errors when the document is printed out to peruse. Get a family member or friend to also go over your résumé and double check for mistakes.
Words to Use
Action verbs are key to making your accomplishments sound impressive.
Positive words for any résumé:
If you’ve started something:
If you’ve led something:
If you’ve done something:
Why do we use action verbs and descriptive words? Well, let’s imagine you’re looking to buy a pen:
Pen 1 Features:
- Is black
- Uses ink
Pen 2 Features:
- Smart nib design allows for seamless transference of ink to paper
- Colour changes available in black, blue, green and red with matching grip available
- Uses both ink, gel and can even house pencil lead for a diverse
range of uses.
Which pen would you buy?
Words to Avoid
As there are many words to use, there are also many words and phrases to strike out of your résumé for good. Many of these words are superfluous and don’t demonstrate real accomplishments. They’re basically saying you’re awesome without backing it up.
Awful, bad, aggressive, fault, hate, mistake, nothing, problem
Excellent oral and written communication skills
Provided excellent customer service
References available upon request
Strong organisational skills
Strong work ethic
The, and, a
What NOT to Add
Aside from specific words, here are another few things to avoid adding to your résumé:
Before You Finish...
Your final checklist:
The Times and Trends
As the times change so must we. Here are some things to be aware of.
Connect with potential employer’s right from the comfort of your home. Create a 3 minute video all about you whilst showcasing your articulation and presentation skills. Employers get a real ‘feel’ for you and your personality. Go on YouTube and you’ll hit thousands of results for video résumés – they’ll also give you a good idea of how to create your own.
In this day and age an interesting video has the potential to go viral. Make sure that the content of your video gives it that opportunity whilst still being great enough that it won’t cause you problems if it does.
A video résumé has the ability to save you and potential employers a lot of time and money by eliminating the time spent doing phone screenings and in-person interviews when you and the company are just not a good fit.
Many people believe video résumés are the way of the future and that paper résumés will become obsolete. What do you think?
Not such a new thing, but gaining in popularity all the time. Social networks can help or hinder your chances of landing a position. Up to 92% of employers check social media profiles of potential candidates – what will your Facebook or Instagram tell them?
Professional platforms like LinkedIn and Google+ are tailor-made to shine your experience and education in the best light. It’s been reported that over 50% of user profiles on LinkedIn are complete – that’s incredible! A hot bed for recruitment!
Some quick tips for them:
Have you ever applied for a position you thought you were perfect for and… crickets. Nothing. You never heard back from them. Most large companies are using ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) now, which means a different set of rules comes into play with regards to your résumé.
Large companies receive such an influx of applications (Google has received 75,000 in a week!) that to sift through them would take hours of work. ATS analyse keywords, dates, titles and other critical information to evaluate whether or not they would be good candidates for the position at hand.
How it works:
So what do you need to do to score high in an ATS? Keywords! Avoid using tables and images in your résumé – it will confuse the ATS. Also, remove hyperlinks from your addresses to avoid confusion.
Whew! That was intense!
Basically, remember that although a résumé is your introduction to a company it shouldn’t be about you. Don’t tell them what you want and your life story. They want to know how you can add value to their company. Any and all skills and experience listed should be relevant to the position you’re applying for; if it isn’t, get rid of it.
Make a list of the skills and characteristics the employer is looking for, then circle the ones you can offer – create a résumé that shows off those traits.
What else do you think should be addressed? What would you add?
Do you have any questions or feedback? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!