5 tips you need to write a killer resume

5 tips to write a resume

You’ve got to write a resume that’s going to be noticed by a machine and by a human. Follow these tips, and you’re on your way to getting that job you want.

Whether you’re graduating from studies or looking to step up your career in 2020, you’re going to need a killer resume. Most recruiters are now using software to filter job applications, and the average amount of time a recruitment officer spends looking at resumes is just six seconds. It’s no easy task, but you’ve got to write a resume that’s going to be noticed by the machine, as well as the human.

You might think that means including more information, but you’d be wrong. The key to success is to be succinct and on point.

Just follow these 5 tips, and you’re on your way to getting that job you want (remember to always proofread!)

1. Tailor it to the job

Don’t send the same resume to a hundred different employers and expect one of them to get back to you. Unless you’re applying for 100 generic jobs like ‘sandwich hand’ it’s a waste of your time, and theirs.

Whether it’s a program or a person reading your resume, they are mainly looking for your suitability for the role. Don’t just demonstrate your experience and competencies; you need to show them you’re the perfect person for that specific job.

Each resume in your professional career should be uniquely crafted for the job, in two important ways.

Firstly, the information you present needs to respond to the job description and criteria. They are basically giving you the blueprint for their dream candidate, so read it carefully, and tailor your resume to speak to their needs as much as possible (but never be untruthful!)

  • Emphasise roles and workplace achievements that match the job description in your ‘work experience' section.
  • Tailor your ‘personal skills’ or ‘key competencies’ section to match their skill requirements.
  • Add any additional information such as certification or volunteer experience that may be relevant specifically to this position.
  • Alter your summary to suit the role (more information on the summary below!)

Secondly, you need to make sure your resume is scattered with searchable keywords, relevant to that role. You’ll find hints on what keywords to use in the job description itself, just look for the most important words in the document.

2. Keep it trimmed and on-point

You may feel that it’s better to cram as much information into a resume as possible, but actually, that’s the worst thing you could do. Having a crowded document makes it impossible for a recruiter to browse your skills and experience. Faced with the choice between reading a crammed ‘newsprint’ style resume or one that’s ordered and edited, they’ll go with the latter.

It varies from country to country, and from one job to another, but generally, two pages are considered a good length for a resume in 2020. Within the two pages, here is exactly what you need to include, no more and no less:

  • Name and contact details
  • Summary
  • Links
  • Work Experience
  • Key Skills: Soft and Hard
  • Education, Qualifications and Awards
  • References

Make sure that you don’t include experience over 10-15 years old. Keep everything concise and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Don’t include high-school certificates or university grades, unless you’re fresh out of school. Cut out anything that may look great, but isn’t immediately relevant.

However, it’s not a bad idea to include personal hobbies and passions if they make you stand out or add to your job credibility.

Athletics, for example, demonstrates discipline and hard work. Just keep it to one point on the page, in a section titled ‘Additional Experience,’ alongside any volunteering you’d care to mention.

3. Include an awesome summary

Underneath your name and contact info, you need to include a short summary or bio, explaining basically who you are, in one sentence. It’s tricky but essential to get it right because it’s at the top of your document. If it’s good, the recruiter will continue reading, and if not… you’re in the ‘no’ pile.

As with everything else, what you put in it will depend on the job you’re applying for. As yourself:

  • Who are they looking for?
  • What do they want that person to bring to their company?
  • What value are you adding to their team?
  • What are your career highlights and key selling points?
  • Here are a few examples of great summaries, for higher-level professionals with over 10 years of experience. If you’re a junior, you can keep it even shorter.

4. Design is important

You might think that eye-catching and creative will help you stand out from the pack. Well, it may catch their eye, but possibly not in the way you’d like it to. Unless you’re working in a creative field like graphic design, it’s better to stick with a simple and clear design, that doesn’t distract the reader from your information.

Choose neutral colours, simple dot points, and a basic layout. Definitely do use an existing template (there are thousands of them free online), and definitely don’t make up your own using Microsoft Word.

You can check out this example of a perfect resume from Glassdoor if you want to see what great resume design looks like with your own eyes.

5. Link it to hard evidence

Of course, it’s one thing to talk the talk, and quite another to back it up with hard evidence. The great thing about living in the time of the Cloud is that you can link your resume to online content for instant cross-checking and to further bolster your appeal.

Make sure you pimp out your professional online presence and add some links to your resume.

Include your LinkedIn profile and shortened links to any published content online that puts you in a good light, like a company blog post about an award you won, for example. Don’t include your Instagram or Twitter, unless you’re in marketing and they’re professional accounts.

Definitely do include at least three references with contact details, phone and email, because references can make or break your application. Don’t ever say, ‘references available on request,’ because they will definitely request references: it’s a given.

One final note: they will Google your name. Make sure you do it first to see what comes up and remove any embarrassing online content.

Good luck!

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