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How to write the perfect resume
While some people think that a resume is a document that lists in great detail all previous jobs, tasks and responsibilities, it is actually a sales document pitched at hiring managers. The product? You. Sales documents are punchy, they succinctly summarise the benefits of the product, and most importantly, they prove that the product works.
When you’re selling yourself, it can sometimes be difficult to be your own best marketer. Some people have a natural tendency to downplay their achievements, which could mean the difference between winning an interview and being passed over.
The object of any resume is always to get a seat at the table – to make an impression. Follow our top tips for creating a resume that gets you into the interview room.
Section one: Make it bespoke
Tip: Your resume needs to be tailored to each job you apply for. That means that although there will be crossover between applications, a resume needs to show why you’re best suited to the job you’re applying for. Be sure to clearly demonstrate the skills, experience and attributes the employer is looking for, and even echo the language used in the job advert.
Focus all content purely on the role and industry you’re targeting. Using pages to talk about an unrelated job or field diverts attention from what skills you have, where you are heading and why you’ll be of value to the specific job.
– Gayle Howard, Certified Master Resume Writer
Section two: Champion your achievements
Tip: Resumes aren’t the time to be modest: they’re an opportunity to convince people of your wins and be your own spokesperson. How have you contributed to previous organisations? How did you save money and time? What value will you bring to this new role? Never stretch the truth, but don’t be afraid to be direct about your value proposition.
In your job history, focus on achievements, don’t just list responsibilities and duties. Do this by writing a 1-2 sentence overview paragraph on each job role and then a bullet list of specific objective achievements for that role. You can discuss the full specifics at interview stage.
– Mandy Johnson, Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Business Advisor
Section three: Engage
Tip: Your tone is important and it needs to be confident, upbeat, and most of all engaging. Hiring managers have many tasks that demand their precious attention and you need to do all you can to make sure the person reading your resume is grabbed by it. Use powerful verbs to present your achievements in a high impact manner: terms like “completed”, “developed” and “managed” will help your resume stand out.
Make a detailed list of every key skill and quality required for the role and ensure that you articulate how your work or other experience demonstrates these.
– Aziza Green, Digital Marketing Pro
Section four: Structure is king
Tip: While there are some occasions where avant-garde resumes can be highly effective, for most job seekers, it’s wise not to try to reinvent the wheel. Centre your contact details at the top of your resume. Next, list the relevant education and training in reverse chronological order – same goes for your selected career history in reverse chronological order. List your job title, name of the employer, a short description of the company (if appropriate) and the dates you worked there. Then outline your key responsibilities, skills and accomplishments for each role. End your resume by naming your referees, or stating that they are available on request.
If you’ve had a solid career history with companies and job titles that will enhance your application, add a career summary in table format, listing the company name and job titles in reverse chronological order.
– Jane Jackson, Career Management Coach and Best-Selling Author
Section five: Format appropriately
Tip: A simple, clear layout will ensure your resume is easy to read and has the best chance of being considered. Use bullet points to concisely present important information and choose a plain, readable font. Once you’ve finished it, give it to a trusted friend to have them proofread it to check for mistakes and typos.
When writing bullet achievements, put the result first. The formula the professional writers use is this: Achieved XXX (result), by doing XXX (action) to resolve XXX (problem).
– Gayle Howard, Certified Master Resume Writer
Section six: Keep it brief
Tip: Brevity is the soul of wit, but it’s also at the heart of good resume writing. You need to keep the reader reading, and part of that involves cutting to the chase. This is the rule that informs all the others – if something is taking too long, and it’s not pulling its weight in terms of demonstrating your value and appropriateness for the job, cut it.
Be clear, concise and keep it relevant.
– Sarah Jensen, Creator of Rock Your Goals workshops
For more advice on writing your resume, check out our resume and cover letter hub