The first step to landing a job of your dreams is writing a good resume. Even if you do not have a lot to offer in terms of work experience, a resume done right can significantly improve your chances of either getting the job you want or at least of being invited for an interview. However, the preparation of a perfect resume is a difficult and time-consuming task. Even if you have some basic ideas of what a CV should be like, it takes the experience to write one that looks professional and polished.
So how does one do it? We’ve prepared this article to help you out. With our tips, you will be able to prepare a resume that will certainly make you stand out in the eyes of a potential employer.
1. Pick a Resume Template and Stick to It
Resumes aren’t written haphazardly – there is a number of widely accepted templates, and you are free to choose any of them. Just make sure that once you pick a type of a proper resume and you can follow its rules throughout the resume. The most common format types are as follows:
- Chronological resumes are the most widespread and preferred by most employers for a very simple reason – it is very straightforward and easy to look through. In this type of resume writing, you simply list all your work history to date chronologically, beginning with the most recent position;
- Functional resumes concentrate on your skills, proficiencies, and experience instead of your work history. You should consider it if you are just a beginner in the job market, if you change careers, have noticeable gaps in your employment history or if you apply for a position that isn’t very much related to the work you did so far;
- Combination resumes combine the characteristics of the previous two types and cover both your skills and work history. It is preferable for people who want to put an emphasis on their skills over work history without excluding the latter altogether. Perhaps, your previously held positions aren’t directly related to the job you are applying for, but it shows your general experience in other fields that may be important (i.e., people skills, leadership, etc.);
- Targeted resumes are written with a specific job opening in mind. You concentrate your attention only on the skills and episodes of your work history that are directly related to this particular position. They are usually accompanied by a targeted cover letter.
2. Make Your Resume Easy to Read
You should take it into account that a typical hiring manager has to deal with dozens and probably hundreds of applications for each individual job opening. This means that all of them have their own strategies for coping with huge amounts of paperwork. Most of them begin with getting rid of everything that is poorly written, looks unprofessional, or hard to read as it takes too much time to process. No matter how brilliant you believe yourself to be, nobody is going to muddle through an unreadable resume. Normally a hiring manager spends five to ten seconds scanning a resume to decide if he/she is going to read on. So if you make a bad first impression, it is simply not going to be read.
Make sure you use a legible font (Times New Roman, Calibri, etc.) of the size that is neither too big nor too small (10-12 is optimal). Divide the resume into small paragraphs and avoid making it look like a wall of text. One of the most noticeable characteristics of a professionally-written resume is the consistency of its formatting. For example, if you use bullet points in one section, you should make sure you use bullet points of the same type throughout the whole resume. The same goes for the font size and type, margins and font style.
3. Don’t Fully Trust Online Resume Builders
There are many websites offering a resume builder or creator to automatically build a resume following a specific template. At a glance, it looks like an excellent way to save time you would otherwise spend on writing and compiling. But no automatic resume maker is capable of fully taking into account all the small details. It is especially true for the situations when you want to prepare a resume that would fit a specific company or position. You can, of course, use the results received with the help of an online resume creator as the foundation, but don’t forget to reread and adjust it before submitting.
4. Study Examples of Various Resumes
Before you can create your own resume, it is a good idea to find a sample of the same type you intend to write and use it as a model. Some theoretical descriptions may be difficult to understand. So having an example in front of you is always handy. It will help you understand which information to include and how much of it, in what order you should mention different points, what are the specifics of the format you’ve chosen. However, make sure you don’t just copy and paste it – your resume should reflect your special skills, and abilities and take into account what kind of job you apply for.
5. Don’t Lose Your Focus
Remember that a hiring manager will dedicate only a very limited amount of time and attention to your resume? It means that you should present yourself in as concise a manner as possible. Don’t use superfluous words. Don’t waste space talking about things that aren’t directly related to the job you apply for. Remember – when writing a resume, less is usually more. Avoid mentioning anything that won’t help you land the job in question. Unless you are a renowned star in your field, you don’t need a resume a few pages long. Nine times out of ten one page is enough. If you absolutely cannot fit everything you want to say into one page, two pages are acceptable, but not more.
6. Update Your Resume Regularly
Time doesn’t stand in one place, and your resume should reflect this. You should return to it every now and then to introduce the additional information about your career progress, additional skills you’ve learned, experiences you went through and so on. Make sure your resume always shows the current status quo.
7. Consider Getting Creative in Resume Writing
If you work in a creative field, it may be a good idea to showcase your skills and nonstandard approach to problem-solving by making a non-traditional resume. If you submit it in an electronic form, consider adding videos, infographics, hyperlinks and other types of media to better demonstrate your achievements, skills and abilities. It will help you stand out from the crowd and attract attention to yourself. However, this approach is only viable if you apply for a position in a creative industry where a certain degree of eccentricity is expected. In more traditional industries, this approach would be completely out of place. It is up to you to decide how it corresponds to the industry you are going to work in.
8. Always Tell the Truth
Sometimes, it may be tempting to embellish the truth a little bit to show yourself in the best light, but you should absolutely never do so. If your potential employer decides to check you and discovers that you’ve lied in your resume, you can say goodbye to any chance of ever landing a job with this company in the future. Even if you manage to get a job now, you are not going to like it if (or, more likely, when) your dishonesty comes into light later on. At the very least, you will lose the trust of your superiors. At most, you will lose your position.
9. Edit, Proofread, Repeat Again
A resume containing typos and grammar mistakes will immediately create an unfavorable impression about you. At the very least, it shows you as a person who is inattentive to details and is unwilling to spend a few extra minutes proofreading a document as important as a resume. Or you will simply look unprofessional and sloppy. Therefore, carefully read editing guidelines for resumes, read and reread your resume multiple times. Give yourself some time before rereadings. Hire a professional proofreader to do it for you. Do anything to make sure your resume is written in perfect English.
10. Consider Getting Resume Writing Help
Writing an effective resume is hard work, and when you do it on your own, it is often hard to understand what you are doing wrong and how to improve your results. You have nothing to go by but the lack of reaction from hiring managers. That is why if you experience serious trouble it may be a good idea to get some help. Get in touch with a career counselor or hire a professional resume writing service. These people do this kind of thing for a living and know what makes a good resume, how to make your work experience look best and what to write when you apply for a specific job.
There are some other things that may not feel like obvious picks when you speak about resumes. For example, some hobbies and interests may subtly showcase your abilities in terms of leadership and teamwork. Also, make sure to mention your volunteer work – many studies find that it demonstrates one’s active position in life and boosts employability, especially in the case of first-time applicants and entry-level jobs. Besides, you can follow 7 ways to improve your employability right now.
Writing a successful and effective resume is a hard work that you probably won’t be able to do right the first time around. However, we think that with the help of these tips you will be able to get the results you need!