Let’s be honest, writing or updating your resume is a pain in the arse. Not only is it painful, there are so many different styles out there that it’s hard to even know where to start! As someone who has been on several recruitment panels recently, I can also share with you that it’s really important that you make your resume standout from the competition.
In my experience, there are three things that you need to do BEFORE you start writing the actual resume:
- Review the job description of the role you are applying for and highlight the sections of the job that you have demonstrated experience against.
- Make a list of all of your achievements in your current and previous roles.
- Choose a template that matches the job you are applying for.
Step 1: Reviewing the job description
This is a really important step that a lot of people skip. You need to update your resume for each and every single job you apply for. Yes you also write a cover letter and/or a statement about how you fit the selection criteria, but you really (REALLY) need to tailor your resume to suit the job too.
Why? Recruiters don’t just use your selection criteria response or cover letter to shortlist these days. They also look at your resume to make sure you have the experience you’ve written about!
Tip: Use two highlighters when you are reviewing the job description. Use one to highlight key skills and attributes they are looking for and one to highlight duties of the role that you can use for your response to the selection criteria.
Step 2: Listing your Achievements
Powerful resumes are those that include a list of the ‘duties’ you performed and your key achievements in the role. By listing your achievements you are effectively demonstrating that you achieve tangible results.
Step 3: Choosing a Suitable Template
When I was in high school, the job counsellor told us all to put a photo of ourselves on the front page of our resume to ‘stand out’. I now realise that it does make your resume standout…… for all the wrong reasons! Any time I’ve been a member of a recruitment panel, the resumes with photos on them are more often than not disregarded because they appear unprofessional. It also opens the door for you to be potentially discriminated against based on the way you look before they even assess your capability. So please…. No photos. Unless of course you are a model or something similar where sending photos is the industry norm.
Choose a template that is simple, straight forward and easy to read. Use headings, to define the sections, bullet points to keep information snappy and relevant and use a basic font – stay away from the cursive or ‘pretty fonts’ because they are hard to read, and when the recruiter has already read 30 other resumes their eyes are already tired.
The one exception to this rule is if you are applying for a creative type role. If you’re a graphic designer, an artist or something similar then you should express those skills in your resume design to stand out from the crowd.
Writing your Resume
So what does a good resume look like? The format may vary but I would suggest including the following information and headings:
- Name, Address and the best method of contact
- Career Profile. This should outline key parts of your experience, highlighting your biggest successes and why you are perfect for the role. Keep it short and to the point.
- Relevant demonstrated capabilities. Use this section to talk about the key skills and attributes you highlighted on the job description. Make sure the skills that are most vital to the role are listed first.
- Relevant Committee/ Memberships. Some roles specify that you must be a member of a professional network, for example in Public Relations it’s very desirable for candidates to have a Public Relations Institute of Australia membership. You can also include any official committee meetings that you attend in your current or previous positions.
- Career History. Make sure you only include details of relevant positions! Having said that make sure your whole timeline is accounted for and work backwards from your current position. If you took a few months off to travel, have children or took a career break list it on the timeline but don’t include any specific information.
- Education. I put this after the job history because your experience is far more relevant than your qualifications in most situations. If you are a graduate and applying for your first role out or if there is a mandatory qualification for the job then bump it up ahead of the career history.
- Training and Conference Attendance. List any relevant training that you have done and relevant conferences you have attended.
- Referees. Most jobs ask for two, but I try and include one referee from each relevant position I’ve held. I find that it’s best to specify who the referee is and what position/s they supervised.
What to leave out…..
Did you notice that I didn’t include a hobbies section?? Unless you have a hobby that is directly related to the job you’re applying for (e.g. you are applying for a job at golf club and you’re an avid golfer) leave it out – it’s right up there with having your photo on your resume.
I hope that the next time you have to update your resume that your find this guide useful. And that it helps you to make your resume standout from the competition!
Another tip….. just a little one for the road I promise! Update your resume every couple of months with achievements and duties even if you aren’t actively looking for a new job. That way when the time comes that you do want to apply for a job then it’s all there ready to go. Plus you won’t forget any of those achievements you worked so hard for!
Do you have any hot tips for creating a kick-arse resume?