A resume is the piece of paper that acts as your advertisement. It is the piece of paper that conveys to an employer your skill sets, experiences and qualifications for a job. It is a tool with one specific purpose: to win an interview, nothing more nothing less. A great resume doesn't just tell them what you have done, but makes the same assertion that all good advertisements do- If you buy this product, you will get these specific benefits. It should present you in the best light possible and convince the employer that you have what it takes to be the right fit for the job.
A repeated mistake made by many is treating a resume as a list of activities, simply listing that you worked somewhere and what your duties were there, is not going to tickle anyone's fancy. Sure, most of the content of any resume is focused on your job history, but write from the intention to create interest, to persuade the employer to call you. If you write with that goal, your final product will be very different, than if you just write to inform or catalogue your job history.
Imagine a recruiter starts going through a pile of dry, boring resumes/CV's. After about one hour, they are really focusing on getting over with the pile. Then, they run across your resume. As soon as they start reading it, they perk up. The more they read, the more interested they get, this scenario needs to be your goal. Again, the emphasis is to treat your resume as your personal advertisement. If you were to advertise a cola drink, would you simply state out a description of the drink and its price?
Generally, modesty is a good virtue and everyone should live by it, but the resume is not the place to exercise such a virtue. The resume is the place where one can creatively and constructively boast about their achievements. But remember, there is a very fine line between impressing the reader and sounding overly zealous, which can easily come across as lying or over-promising.
While preparing your resume always remember whom you are writing the resume for. While listing out your roles and responsibilities in previous jobs, be careful to emphasize the relevant learnings and outcomes that appeal to the employer reading your resume. Never approach resume writing generically; write a resume tailored to the company and job position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a graphic designer job, emphasize any courses you might have taken in college and the relevant graphic design projects you might have done. The same employer is not interested in projects you might have done in your college finance class or that you won first place in a cricket tournament.
Every resume must have the basic components which are-
- Personal Information- Includes name, address email and phone no
- Career Objective Statement (optional) - Include the type of position or occupational field you wish to enter, your special interests, skills, and experiences or immediate and long-term goals. For Example: Advising position using student service
- Education: List out educational institution(s) you have graduated from, Post secondary degree(s) received and date earned or dates enrolled (place in reverse chronological order). Include major, minor, area of concentration or specialization along with results.
- Experience/Work History: Include employment, fieldwork, student teaching, internships, volunteer work, etc. List position title, employer or setting, city, state, and dates held (in reverse chronological order). Emphasize your responsibilities, accomplishments, and skills.
- Academic projects: List out major courses, research-work, organizations and projects you have carried out during your education which is related to the job you are applying for.
- Leadership experience: List out any leadership roles you have taken in college or in past jobs. Highlight your roles, responsibilities and results achieved under your responsibility.
- Honours: List out any relevant awards and scholarships received in the past
- Additional information: List out certifications, licenses, memberships to professional associations, military or community service experience, Computer skills (software and hardware), languages, etc.
- References: Include a statement indicating that references are available upon request. Never include names of references on the resume for privacy reasons. If an employer requests a list of references, enclose a reference sheet
After preparing your resume, make sure you have taken the following into account-
- Did you get another person to proofread your resume for spelling errors, missing words and proper grammar?
- Is your use of white space and the overall appearance of your resume uncluttered and visually appealing?
- Does your resume have at least one inch margins on all sides of the page?
- Did you get your resume printed on high quality paper of a light, neutral color?
- Considering your experience and education, is the length of your resume appropriate?
- Did you read and re-read each statement to make sure it is concise, action-oriented and credible?
- Are all statement written to express the benefits you can offer a prospective employer?
- Did you quantify statements that might at first seem unbelievable? Are your statements convincing?
- Did you use short, punchy sentences with action-oriented words?
- If you decided to include an objective, is it clear and concise?
- Did you delete all irrelevant information that might make a prospective employer stop reading?
- Does your education section highlight your academic background without going into too much detail?
- Did you include a current address and telephone number where employers can reach you?
- Does the overall effect of your resume reflect a positive image of you and your skills and abilities?