How-To

How To Write A Good Resume, The Basics

A well-presented resume is vital in your search for a new job. It will not get you the job, but a good resume makes the difference between getting an interview and your application being thrown in the bin. With your resume being one of many, recruiters will only read it for a short space of time, so it is extremely important that it is structured clearly, with your best selling points presented in a logical manner and the most relevant information readily identifiable.

Everybody writes and presents their resume as they like, there is no right or wrong way. However, with these words of advice we will help you produce a clear and concise resume that will increase your chances of being invited for an interview.

Content

To begin, prepare a list of your key competencies and skills that your employer will be looking for. Be analytical about yourself and identify your main selling points that differentiate yourself from competitors. The most common content to be included includes:

Personal Details:

Name, Date of Birth, Contact Details, Nationality - Work Permit if relevant.

Education and Qualifications:

The full title of your degree and university and any significant exam results. Concentrate on High School and beyond.

Work Experience:

List the companies that you have worked for, the dates that you worked at them and a brief description of your role. It is important that they are relevant and detailed in short, bullet-pointed statements. Make clear what your individual contribution was using positive language and include your responsibilities and achievements. Back everything up with quantifiable facts, such as size of budgets and results achieved, to make your skills tangible.

Achievements:

Think carefully about which examples you include in this section, as employers may deduce a lot from your choice about your motivations and what you regard as important. Employers are only interested in your most recent achievements.

Extra-Curricular Activities:

This section on hobbies and interests should be kept short and include information, such as, membership of and positions of responsibility in sports teams, drama societies etc. Any information should have a purpose, showing skills relevant to the role you are applying for and saying something of interest about yourself.

General Skills:

Courses attended, foreign languages and IT (include level of proficiency).

References:

Unless requested, references need not be given at the initial application stage and a simple “references available on request” should suffice. Employers will ask for references if and when they need them.

Good resume’s are logical, clear, concise and simple with sentences including short, to the point key words and statements. It is best to leave out words, such as, ‘and’ and ‘I’ as much as you can and make each sentence as meaningful as possible. An effective resume needs to focus the readers’ attention on the criteria that they are looking for, highlighting important information that can be accessed and interpreted easily. Try to match yourself with the criteria they are looking for.

You may also be asked to justify and elaborate certain statements that you have made in your resume if you are invited to an interview, so you should be honest and accurate all the way through. Be careful not to over-exaggerate, however, always remain positive! Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are vital, as well as the overall layout and format of the resume.

Structure & Presentation

First impressions are very important! Each section needs to be headed clearly so that it is well presented, orderly and pleasing to look at, to avoid any discouragement to read on. Your skills, experience and achievements must flow in a logical manner detailing all key points. Any dates should be included where applicable and placed in reverse chronological order within each section.

One page is best however two pages is an acceptable length of a good resume. Although you want to avoid adding irrelevant material that will bore the reader you do not want to miss out including valuable information or cramping all your data into a shorter resume. So, try to include at the beginning the most important skills and abilities where the reader will look first and include your name and page numbers in the header or footer of each page to avoid any confusion.

Once a layout and structure is decided on, you should stick to it using consistent headings and sub-headings as well as a standard font size and type. In general, Times New Roman or Arial and size 9/10 is the norm but the use of bold or different size fonts can highlight important information and point the reader to the relevant areas! All text should be fully justified so the paragraphs look neat and tidy and there should be a balance between text and space. Bullet points are useful to break up text, black lines can be used to emphasise headings and sometimes text can be split into two columns to look more professional, for example, in personal details.

But remember, there is no one standard layout or format for resume’s and those of professionals will be very different to those of graduates. Individual tastes of both the recruiter and applicant mean no absolute design will be right and you must also remember that resume’s for different job applications must vary to be tailored to their requirements. The design of your resume does not however get you an interview no matter how attractive it is; you must bear in mind that the content you put in and your selling points are paramount.

Finally

A good idea is to print off your final copy and look at it, getting a second opinion on its content and presentation. To see what looks best you should experiment with different formats as it may take several different drafts to get to the final selected one. Check that your personal details are all correct, your spelling, punctuation and grammar are accurate, the presentation is pleasing to the eye, you have identified your main selling points and you have avoided any repetitions.

Courtesy of TipTop Job for help when you are writing your resume (also known as a CV, curriculum vitae).