Your resume is the first impression a recruiter will have of you. You could be the most qualified, perfect match for a job but if your resume doesn’t come up to scratch, then you’ll never progress to the interview stage where you can really show off your personality.
So, really nailing your resume is an essential skill all job-seekers should be focusing on. If you can create a professional, impressive CV that is tailored to the job you are applying for, you will already have a headstart on countless other applicants, and massively increase your chances of successfully landing an interview.
Below, we’ve covered some of the essential do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when creating your resume.
Speculative resumes that have been sent out in response to each and every job vacancy online are easy to spot from a mile off, and won’t make a good impression on a recruiter.
Think: a recruiter is looking for the perfect fit for their vacancy, so your resume should be designed to convince them that the right fit is you. Your resume should be tailored to address the key things they are looking for in the role being advertised, from your previous work experience (highlighting sought-after skills and qualifications), to any other desirable qualities the company is looking for.
A typical resume format includes:
You want your resume to stand out - but omitting details or confusing the layout of your resume can be off-putting for a recruiter who may be looking at hundreds of resumes in one day. Keep things simple but efficients and stick to a traditional format that clearly highlights your assets as a candidate for the role you are applying for. If this is your first job application, these resume examples are a great place to get started.
In the same vein, a recruiter probably doesn’t have time to read through 5 pages of waffle about your Duke of Edinburgh award and that award you got back in primary school!
Keep things clear and concise, focusing on your most recent and relevant qualifications, education, and experience that really showcase the skills you have that align with the job vacancy you are applying for. As a general rule, resumes should be no longer than two pages - but don’t feel the need to fluff up your CV just to get it there.
Imagine how many times a recruiter has had to read the phrases ‘good team player’, ‘great attention to detail’ and ‘hard worker’ when reading through hundreds of resumes throughout the week. Now, you can probably imagine just how meaningless these generic phrases become.
When writing your resume, aim to show, not tell. So, rather than simply writing that you’re a good team player, find specific examples that show this. For example, have you worked on a project with multiple colleagues with success? Have you really gone out of your way as an employee to deliver results, and can you show that in your CV?
A clear and easy to read design with a simple font (Calibri, Cambria, Arial, and Helvetica are all popular choices) and size (11 - 12px) is going to allow the person reading your CV to focus on what is important: the words.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this: a creative role such as a graphic designer could benefit from using your resume to showcase your design skills, but in most cases, an overly-creative design is simply too distracting and detracts from your experience and qualifications.
This is rule number one: do not lie on your resume! You will get found out. If you are a suitable candidate for the role you are applying for, you should not need to make any false statements or embellishments on your resume. Even if your lie isn’t discovered when your hiring manager is running background checks on you, it will most likely come back to haunt you at some point, so aim to avoid that at all costs!
A cover letter is your opportunity to really sell yourself. It enables you to elaborate on the relevant aspects of your resume and highlight in detail exactly what makes you a perfect candidate for the job you are applying to.
Your cover letter is also a good opportunity to provide any more details on why you are specifically interested in working for the company. For example, have you been a long-term customer or follower of theirs? Do their ethics and values strongly align with your own? Do you have a vision you’d love to share with the company? Keep it professional, but use your cover letter to offer a little more insight into these things.
Your resume should include personal details such as your name and contact information, but you do not need to include more personal information such as your gender, age, or nationality. Along the same lines, you do not need to include a photo in your application. Legally, these things cannot affect an employer’s decision whether or not to progress your application to the next stage, but there is no need to include these details and run that risk.
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