CVS / OCT. 19, 2015
version 6, draft 6

How to Write a Killer Resume

While there is no one way to write a resume, there are certain rules you need to follow to ensure you include every bit of information employers want to see. After all, you need to get it right if you want to make a good first impression.

This means that you need to be completely confident that the information you provide is as accurate, well-presented and eye-catching as possible so that it makes a strong impact on recruiters. These and other important resume writing rules will ensure that you are approaching employers the right way.

See Also: Writing a Resume is not as Hard as it Seems  

To help you out, I have prepared a list of all of the things you need to be aware of while you are writing your resume so that you know what a winning resume looks like. This is everything you need to know to start working on yours, so let’s take it step by step, shall we?

Resume Layout and Format

Determining what resume format you should use, is essential. While most people say, it’s not about the appearance, when it comes to writing a resume, unless it’s well-presented and structured you won’t get very far. So, how can you make it stand out from other candidate’s resumes? Well, you need to make sure your resume grabs the employer’s attention and keeps the reader engaged.

Overall, a killer resume includes the following:

  • Needs to be brief (max 2 pages) and symmetrical.
  • Needs to be simple (speak in a straightforward language without many complex words).
  • Makes effective use of bulleted points and small sentences.
  • Includes sections that are necessary within a resume: name, contact details, personal statement, work experience and education. Optional sections include: voluntary experience, generic and job-related skills, languages, interests, references).
  • Uses appropriate font styles (e.g. Arial, Times New Roman), headings and word spacing.

So, is it going to be a functional/skill-based resume, a combined or a chronological resume? You need to choose the best resume format so that it complements your situation effectively, taking three basic elements into account:

(a) What do you want out of the job?

How you present yourself will pretty much depend on what you want in a job. Are you after a full-time job, placement opportunity, paid- internship, a seasonal job or volunteering experience? Is there any room for advancement? What is your objective? The way you present this information gives out hints to employers about your current situation. For example, they will be able to figure out if you are a recent graduate or an experienced professional.

(b) What does the job offer include?

When writing your resume, it’s always a good idea to know what the employer is after so that you know how to customise your resume to make it more appealing. Doing so will also help you understand whether the job is right for you even before the job interview.

(c) What do you want to focus on?

Are you after a career change? If yes, you need to bring out those elements that improve your chances of making your resume as relevant as possible to the industry you are targeting. So, let’s say you don’t have enough work experience in the field, focus on your technical skills and education or voluntary work by putting these first on your resume.

Common Mistakes

Unless you want to sabotage your efforts, make sure you avoid the following common mistakes:

Writing in first person

Avoid using the word ‘I’ in your resume as it makes you look like an amateur.  

Not proofreading your resume

As much as you think you know your language, you really don’t. Proofreading your resume is essential if you want to show employers you are a true professional. This way you will ensure your resume isn’t full of grammar or spelling errors.

Highlighting duties instead of achievements

This is a huge mistake as your resume fails to give employers examples of your results and contributions, by simply stating the obvious responsibilities you had in your last job.

Writing a very long or short resume

Most employers believe the ideal length is one page. But, resume trends now show a shift to two-paged resumes. However, you should try to keep it as brief as possible.

Using unprofessional email address

Your first email address – yes the one you created when you were 13, shouldn’t be included in your resume as chances are, it’s silly and unprofessional. Create an email specifically for job-hunting purposes.  

Leaving gaps in work history

These gaps make employers want to look deeper into your work history in an attempt to discover what you have been up to while unemployed.

       

Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the resume Do’s and Don’ts so that you keep focused to the point:

Do’s

  • Include contact details.
  • Customise resumes to each position.
  • Provide examples to demonstrate your skills.
  • Show off your creativity.
  • Use keywords that relate to the position.
  • Tell interesting stories.

Don’ts

  • Avoid negative and flowery language.
  • Avoid generic objectives.
  • Avoid including a photo.
  • Leave out irrelevant information.
  • Avoid using overly extravagant designs.
  • Avoid long boring statements.

Important Things to Include

While working on your resume don’t forget to include these three often-overlooked but important elements to success:

Keywords

In regards to customising your resume to the job, you need be careful to choose the right keywords (or buzzwords) that will promote your key strengths. Such terms should directly relate to a specific industry and need to go all over your resume, starting from your career summary, then work experience, education and skills section.

Career Summary

A strong career summary will help you introduce yourself to employers while focusing on your skills and areas of expertise. Here’s an example of a career summary with industry-relevant keywords:

Certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) with over 5 years of experience in the staffing industry as an HR Specialist. Implementing a variety of training solutions, I help align business strategies with employee expectations and performance. Possess excellent leadership and strong management skills. Work closely with employees to help them realise their potential and contribute to the success of a business.

Action verbs

Action verbs such as ‘won, improved, mentored, resolved, influenced’ can add a positive and professional tone to your resume that will make it more powerful.

Be Creative

Employers often stress the importance of creativity, and on their job advertisements you often find this skill amongst the most essential requirements they are looking for in a candidate. But since showing your creativity skills is far more difficult on a piece of paper, you need to go beyond the elements of your imagination and show off your personality.

For example, have you ever considered creating a video resume? What about an infographic, 3D, T-shirt, or even a comic strip resume? I am not even sure there is any point mentioning how important an online resume is. You should already know that if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you need to create one.

See Also: 10 Extraordinary Creative CV Examples

The key to impressing employers with your resume is making sure you stand out from the competition. If you can demonstrate that you have something different to offer employers using a single piece of paper, then you are already halfway to getting the job.

So, how many points on this list did you check off when writing your resume? Let me know in the comments section below…

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