Guide to writing a great resume

good resume

There’s plenty of conjecture around what a great resume should look like and people have some pretty strong opinions on the optimum language, style and structure. But like most good writing, it needs to tell a story – your story. Having clicked on thousands of resumes, I know from experience that first impressions really count. Within a few viewing seconds, managers will naturally decide if they want to read on. So, what are the key elements of an impressive resume that will grab attention? Here’s my quick guide to writing a great resume.

To be or not to be

This is where it gets interesting – do I include a photograph or not? Is it necessary to include my address? And what about my date of birth? Well, the short is answer is “no,” none of these tell the story of your ability to do the job and that’s what we are looking for. The question good hiring managers and recruiters are asking themselves as they read through your resume is “how aligned are these candidates’ skills and experience to the vacancy I have?”

Follow a format

A great resume will follow a clear and simple structure that will give the reader a snapshot about who you are. Think of it like the summary on the back of a book you’re interested in reading, or topical headlines. As a guide, your resume will include:

  • Contact details – Phone, City, State, email and other relevant contact details such as your LinkedIn profile (a good tip is to include your contact details on each page)
  • A list of your key strengths and skills
  • A summary of your education qualifications and courses undertaken, including memberships.
  • A list of your technical expertise if this applies to your role
  • A summary of your work experience that outlines your role, responsibilities and achievements
  • Any volunteering work you have done
  • A note about your referees (specifying the name and company is seen by some as a plus)
  • Some people like to include an objective as well personal interests, if you do choose to include these, keep them relevant.

Make a statement

Find ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Good font selection, a pop of colour, clear discernible sections will help you achieve this. On the other hand, too much colour, too many icons and colour blocks can be distracting. A great resume will certainly have components of these but try not to over clutter the pages. Clear, concise and engaging is a good checklist to consider when crafting your resume. 

Less is more

One debatable aspect of resume writing is length. I’ve seen resumes that are 2 pages long and include only the last 3 roles of a candidates’ experience and others that are detailing their first job out of school by the time I get to page 10. A great resume will be interesting, insightful and informative so when you’re writing your resume think about balancing the information to keep the reader engaged. As a guide, generally 4 pages reflecting your professional expertise is the right length to hold interest.

Expert eye

Getting some assistance or a professional opinion about your resume is also a good idea. Apart from engaging a professional resume writer, there are a lot of clever templates available online. Or, as you are going through the recruitment process, ask your consultant for feedback on your resume. The upside here is that they will know your market and have seen plenty of resumes applying for similar jobs.

You might want to check out this handy link on skills to include in your resume.

See our other recruitment articles on job hunting and some tips on what recruitment will look like after lockdown.

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