Combined with your cover letter, correct resume writing markets your true potential to prospective employers. It should showcase your abilities and relevant credentials in a manner applicable to your situation, and appealing to the hiring manager. Not writing your resume correctly could mean missing out on interviews.
Irrespective of one’s profession or the type of roles you seek, there are some key resume writing elements which remain the same. Therefore, give the following sections some consideration:
Provide your contact details, interests and memberships of any professional affiliations.
A profile is a short statement describing your experience, in addition to your career goals and aspirations, and should be tailored for each position applied for. Just as a business markets their products and services in a professional, confident manner, you too need to market your key strengths and abilities in a professional, confident manner. At a glance it informs the hiring manager of your expertise and what they can expect from you.
You’ve most probably noticed that most advertisements ask for certain attributes. This may be fantastic communication skills, great analytical abilities, or strong strategic skills. This area should demonstrate your core strengths, whether they are personal attributes or your skill base, in-line with the requirements advertised. Don’t underestimate the power of your key attributes in matching your skills to that of the employer. (In an honest way of course!)
Qualifications shouldn’t be confused with training courses or other educational matter. Essentially, this section is utilised for required qualifications (eg: a degree) for a vacant position; or something which is a pre-requisite for the role(s) you will be seeking.
Should your resume writing be functional or chronological? Many participants in a recent Employer Survey said a big NO! to functional resumes, and prefer to see a chronological resume, clearly stating your career history and what your achievements or main accountabilities were for each respective position. Your history should be listed in reverse chronological order, and include the duration in each position, the name of the employer, your job title, main accountabilities, and any quantifiable key achievements. Job gaps greater than three months should be explained.
If you have experienced stages of unemployment and have volunteered your time in these periods, it would be best to list this detail even if it was five years ago! It demonstrates to the employer that you are willing to advance your skills and contribute to the community in times of change. In some instances, consider listing this information within the Employment History section itself, this can then explain any ‘gaps’ you may have in your employment.
If applying for a position with a professional organisation, 9 times out of 10 they will request two or three phone referees with your application. Referee detail should include the person’s name, job title (and relationship to you if it isn’t obvious), company name, contact telephone number(s) with area code, and email address. You should gain the person’s permission before listing them as a referee. Personal referees are a no-no; your referees should be entirely professional.
If in doubt about the information and structure of your resume, ask yourself this: “What is an employer looking for – what do they want from me?” Answer that question and you’ll recognise what information should prominently be displayed in your resume.
Be honest about your accomplishments and structure your resume in a positive manner which will highlight your true strengths and capabilities. Every person is unique! Let it shine and you will certainly be rewarded with a high rate of interviews!
Below is a brief sample of the common resume mistakes, as highlighted by employers, which could be costing you an interview.
Forget the section labelled “Career Objective”. Latest survey results were very surprising indeed, with 82% of employers rating a “Profile” as high, as opposed to 25% for a career objective. The survey also revealed that your profile (or something similarly named) needs to contain the right mix of information, combining the profile with a career objective.
Unless you’re in a position which requires a great deal of creative flair such as: website designer; graphic artist; photographer; etc – stay away from graphics, photos and fancy borders, no matter how desperate you are in gaining the hiring manager’s attention! This was one area specifically commented on, time and time again. (This also applies to IT applicants who insert Microsoft logos.) Refer to the employer comments below regarding this issue.