A Simple Guide For Writing The Perfect Resume/CV
Your resume must look clean and well structured, with enough white space to enhance readability. It should be approximately two pages long unless your industry has its own standards; for instance, if you are expected to include your publications or details of many projects.
Use a simple font like Arial, 10-12pt, and keep formatting like italics and underlining to a minimum. Bullet points are extremely useful as they allow you to highlight key points succinctly and keep the document looking tidy. Start each one with an action verb if you can (‘created’, ‘managed’, ‘increased’, ‘improved’ etc.), rather than ‘I’.
Spelling and punctuation must be perfect, so after you proofread and spell-check it, give it to a friend to do the same. Hiring organisations are inundated with so many applications and unnecessary mistakes can mean yours ends up in the reject pile.
Basic resume structure:
1. Name, address and contact details
Make sure to use the phone number and email address that you use most often. You don’t want to disappoint an employer by failing to respond to their invitation to an interview in a timely fashion.
2. Personal summary
This is optional, but it’s a good opportunity to highlight in a few sentences what you hope to achieve in your next position and what you feel you can offer to the employer. In marketing terms, this is the place for your ‘USP’, or unique sales proposition. Tailor this section to each job position that you’re applying to.
3. Skills summary
The reader of your resume may not have more than a few seconds to spend scanning applications, so including a skills section can capture their attention by making it immediately clear what you can offer. Compile a brief bulleted list of the skills and experience that you possess that are relevant to the role. Wherever possible, use the same adjectives as those used in the advertisement.
For instance, if the ad specifies someone who has ‘effective administrative abilities and excellent interpersonal skills’, these should be addressed under your skills section with brief evidence as to where you gained those skills. Make sure to tailor your skills and expertise to the individual position you are applying for, always.
4. Relevant experience
This is your work history and includes paid work and any relevant volunteer or work experience placements. Work backwards from your most recent job and don’t leave any gaps; you don’t want to give potential employers any reason to suspect the worst. If you took a year out, carried out an interim assignment or travelled for six months, say so – just make sure you illustrate whatever the experience was in a positive way, focusing on the fact that it gave you some great skills and knowledge.
A future employer will be interested in where you went above and beyond the job that you were paid to do and achieved something great. So if you’ve been “Employee of the Month” for 3 months running, say so. All achievements should be quantified, for example if you over-achieved on your sales targets, you need to say by what percentage and over what period.
6. Education and training
Use your common sense here. If you have an advanced degree, few people are going to be concerned about the exams you took when you were 16 years old. Make sure to also include any training courses that you have done that are relevant to the job that you are applying for.
These are optional, but should you choose to include a section on hobbies and interests, keep it very brief. Avoid saying anything that could be contentious (e.g. political or religious affiliations), and wherever possible, use the space to show how your personality is suited to that of the business for which you’re applying.
Actual references are rarely included on resumes. It is usually fine to simply say ‘References are available on request’. The employer will then make later arrangements to contact the referees.
Good luck in your job search