7 golden rules for writing a knockout resumé
September is getting closer and job hunting season is about to begin. Is your resumé up to scratch? Or will you be left at the bottom of the applications pile?
Listing your education, work experience and skills, a good resumé tells a hiring manager whether you could be right for a role – and whether to invite you for an interview. After that, it’s all down to your interview skills!
In this article we explore the 7 golden rules for writing the perfect resumé. It serves as a checklist and will help you write and refine your curriculum and get you over the first hurdle of any job application – being invited to the interview.
1. Be eye catching
A good resumé is your ticket to an interview for the job of your dreams. It would be sad and very disappointing if it got relegated to the bottom of the pile simply because it didn’t look good.
Imagine an office desk overflowing with a piles of cover letters, application forms and resumés. How will yours stand out? Think about the design and layout of the document, because this is what will initially grab the hiring manager’s attention.
As a side note, it’s also important to understand resumé conventions in the country (or countries) you are looking for a job. Some managers (in Spain, for example) prefer that you include a photo of yourself on your resumé. While in other countries (the UK, for example), this would be a strange practice.
2. Be focused
Tell the hiring manager what you want from your next job and why with a 60-word personal mission statement at the top of your resumé. Include:
– Your professional objectives
– Your own “unique selling proposition” (what makes you different)
– Highlight your most relevant skills
If you are applying for a number of jobs in different fields, or industries make sure to write a specific mission statement for each one.
3. Be relevant
While you can’t necessarily tailor your resumé to every job you apply for, where possible, highlight skills and experience relevant to the field that you plan to work in. For example, if you have only ever worked as a server in a restaurant, but plan on working as a customer success manager, highlight your great customer service skills.
4. Be concise
Hiring managers are busy people and need to get the information from your document as quickly and easily as possible. So no matter how much (or little) experience you have, it’s important to keep your resumé concise.
Aim for a maximum of two pages (or even better – one!). This means being economical with words, using bullet points to convey information, and not over explaining things. Only mention past work experience which is relevant or recent. HR managers don’t need to read about the paper round you did when you were thirteen (unless maybe you are applying for the job of a delivery driver).
5. Be honest
Never lie on your resumé!
Untruths will come back to haunt you. Inflating your language skills or artificially expanding your list of responsibilities in a previous job might sound like a way to get your new boss’s attention, but it will just land you in hot water.
If you are hired for a role because of a particular skill, and they find out you were lying about it, you’re as good as fired. If you’re not let go, you’ll have a lot of trust to win back, and that is not good for your career prospects.
6. Be verifiable
Do your best to include references from previous roles, contact previous managers or university lecturers and see if they are willing to provide a reference for you. If you are also able to attach recommendation letters to your resumé, even better.
This will help verify what you are claiming and add weight to your application.
7. Be careful
Have a friend or relative read over your resumé to look for mistakes or design inconsistencies. You might be the best candidate in the pile, but spelling mistakes look sloppy and could well cost you an invitation to the interview.
Even more importantly, if you have a resumé and cover letter in a second language, try to get a native speaker (or proficiency-level speaker) of that language to check it for you.
The resumé checklist
So what should your resumé include?
● Contact information – include full name, date of birth, phone number, email address and home address
● Opening statement – include your mission statement and highlight your skills
● List of key skills – this should include hard skills (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) and soft skills (e.g. communication)
● List of jobs – also include relevant responsibilities
● Education – where and when you studied, including grades and qualifications earned
● Volunteering/work placements – don’t miss this out, it shows your enthusiasm and interests
● Personal interests – let the hiring manager know what you enjoy doing in your free time