Along with your cover letter, your resume is one of the most important documents that you provide when applying for a position. What it takes to convince potential employers of your skills and capabilities doesn't lie on the numerous essays and research papers you wrote as a student, it lies on your resume. After all, your resume is a brief overview of your background, skills, and accomplishments among others. A well-written resume can land you an interview and boost your chances of getting hired. A poorly-written resume, on the other hand, often gets discarded even before the hiring manager finishes reading. Adequate attention should, therefore, be paid to writing your resume. In this post, we provide some of the most useful tips for writing a resume.
What is a Resume?
A resume can be described as a short document that details a person’s background, skills, and accomplishments. A resume is used for a variety of reasons, but it is most commonly submitted as part of the documents evaluated by hiring managers during the application process. The content of a resume also varies, but it usually includes the following:
- A statement of your objective.
- Personal details such as your name, age, address, and contact information.
- Colleges or universities you graduated from and any degrees that you have received.
- Employment/work/experience history including positions, job descriptions, and internships.
- Special skills, qualifications, awards, certifications, and licenses among others.
- Achievements and accomplishments.
Because of its shortness, a resume should be informative and interesting. Its goal is to not only provide details about you; it should also make you stand out from the rest and thereby capture the hiring manager’s attention.
Top Tips for Writing a Resume
- Keep it short. One of the top tips for writing a resume is to keep the document short. Resumes vary in length, and the more experience, competencies, and other qualifications you have, the more information your resume will likely contain. That being said, avoid writing an excessively long resume. Package information as bullet points; use active language; avoid wordiness, and be straight to the point. There are no exact rules when it comes to how long a resume should be, but most hiring managers agree that recent graduates should keep their resumes at one page long while more experienced applicants may send two or more pages.
- Customize your resume. One of the most common mistakes that applicants make is sending a generic resume. This happens when an applicant writes only one resume and then sends it to all companies or organizations being applied to regardless of differences in job postings. Job postings tend to be unique, and so you should customize your resume so that it fits the job posting you’re applying for. Customizing a resume so that it corresponds with the specific job posting will help you show how you’re qualified for the position. One way to customize your resume is by marking keywords in the job description and using the same keywords in your resume. Another strategy is removing irrelevant information. For example, if some of the workshops you attended are not relevant to the position, then you don’t have to include them. Removing such information also aids in keeping your resume short. It will help if you consider your resume as a marketing tool and your hiring manager as your target market. Your resume should give your hiring manager what he or she wants in an applicant.
- Keep it professional. Just as you wouldn’t want to show up at a formal interview wearing street clothes and slippers, you wouldn’t want your resume to look sloppy. A resume is a formal document. It offers the hiring manager his or her first impression of you as an applicant. It is only sensible, therefore, that it should look as professional and sharp as possible. One way to make your resume professional is by using formal language. This means avoiding slang and colloquialism. But your language also doesn’t have to be flowery or superfluous. Make sure you proofread your resume to eliminate typographical and grammatical errors. While some hiring managers may overlook the occasional error, many others look at finer details and consider these in their evaluation.
- Use a sensible layout and design. In the same way that you should use formal language, you should also pay attention to the aesthetic qualities of your resume. Use standard white paper. Choose a simple font and keep the size between 10 and 12 such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. It can be a little smaller if necessary, but make sure that it’s still easy to read. Present your information in a structured manner. For instance, your employment history is ideally presented in reverse chronological order. In some cases, you can present the most important details first. You can also choose an alternate layout. Some resumes feature a more modern layout by blending the qualities of traditional resumes and infographics. Avoid clutter by adding white space, but be wary of including so much white space that your resume looks sparse.
- Keep it honest. Finally, and most important of all, keep your resume factual. While you may wonder why anyone would lie in their resume, there are plenty of people out there who actually do this. Some people get lucky and get a job without anyone finding out. But those who aren’t so lucky lose not only their chance but also their reputation. There are so many ways to make your resume shine without resorting to fakery. You just have to really work hard.