7 tips to writing a great résumé

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Employers may spend very little time reading résumés, especially if they have hundreds of applicants for one position. This means that those who are shortlisted for interview managed to draw the attention of the employer from a large pile.

Our Employment Consultants have shared their top tips for creating a résumé that will make an impact and help you put your best foot forward.

1. Presentation

Don’t use the same templates that everyone else uses. Create a format that speaks to your individuality, and draws the employer’s attention from within a large pile of other résumés.

Keep it simple, and professional. Being unique doesn’t mean bright colours or images; a résumé gives the employer their first impression of the applicant. Make sure it’s a good one.

2. Details

The only personal details that a résumé needs are your name and contact details. It is an unfortunate truth that discrimination still exists in the job application process, so don’t give any employer reason to stop reading your résumé. Details such as age, gender, marital status, whether you have children, or whether you have a disability are unnecessary.

If it’s not relevant to the advertised position, it’s not needed in your résumé.

3. The heading

Consider your headings, and their order, carefully. Many résumé templates start with the heading: “Objectives”, or “Personal Statement.” Stand out from the crowd; use the position you’re applying for as the heading. Follow this with a single sentence statement that will give an insight into your personality.

Don’t be afraid to use humour, but make sure it’s appropriate both for a professional document and for the position.

End this section with a short description of yourself, pointing out relevant experience which makes you the perfect candidate. This is a brief history of your relevant skills and achievements based on the advertised criteria.

4. Skills and attributes

Check the criteria! What skills and expertise is the employer looking for? The employer needs to know that you have what it takes to fulfil the position, beyond your qualifications.

Consider here the transferable skills you have developed through your past experience, and present them in an easy-to-read format.

5. Past experience

So far, you’ve made it clear to the employer that you have exactly what they want personally and professionally. Now, you need to prove it using your past experiences.

Start with your most current position, but don’t just repeat the job description. The employer will already know. Instead, write about your achievements in each of your past positions. The contributions you’ve made to the company are more important than your day-to-day responsibilities.

Add details which many never think of: Punctuality; if you haven’t used any sick leave in 12 months; if you worked overtime to help your boss get that big project done; the office system you streamlined to improve efficiency.

It is common to have gaps in employment history, but gaps don’t look good on a résumé. Fill them with a short explanation of what you did between long-term positions e.g. casual roles, temp work, or training. This will show the employer that you were still active in those gaps, furthering your experience and continuing the development of your skills.

6. Extras

Points 1-5 cover the most influential part of your résumé. Other headings that are useful (and some are often required) are:

  • Education
  • Computer Skills
  • Additional Qualifications (these are professional as opposed to educational)
  • Interests
  • Awards
  • Volunteer/Community work
  • References

7. Be seen

Research what you aspire to do. Search online for your ideal work places and their recruitment processes. Some companies only hire at a particular time of year, if you send in a résumé outside this time frame it could be ignored.

Access the hidden job market by walking into the places you want to work and handing a résumé over in person.

Good luck!

Job hunting can be a long process, so don’t give up. Keep your résumé up to date and relevant to the position you’re applying for. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get your ideal position straight away.