Whether you like it or not, a resume is a reflection of you. What you write and how you write it is being judged by the reader. Even the look of a resume (the amount of pages and type of font you use) conveys to the reader certain messages about you.
So it makes sense that your resume is a document you spend a lot of time on, get advice about and continually update. After all, a resume is usually the first impression that a potential employer will receive from you and from that initial point of contact a lot of decisions are being made.
Unfortunately, we see far too many resumes that are written and set out poorly and do no justice to the candidates’ abilities or skills.
To ensure that you convey the right messages and don’t make costly mistakes, here are a few basic recommendations that we have learnt over the years that are sure to impress:
- Keep the document from between 2 to 6 pages long. No need for a title page!
- Use a simple to read font of no less than 10pt (e.g. this is 8pt, this is 12pt).
- Keep it easy on the eye and clear by ensuring that there is plenty of white space on each page.
- Help the reader by bolding key words.
- Don’t include a picture as under privacy laws it cannot be kept.
- Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar! Don’t rely on ‘spell check’.
- Use past tense for past roles and present tense for your current position and never use “I”.
- Place your personal contact details first, followed by your education, professional memberships, then your career history.
- List your working history chronologically with the most recent position first.
- Don’t leave gaps in the chronological layout of your resume. If you were on an extended holiday, write it in.
- Underneath your previous employer’s name explain in a short sentence what the company did, how big it was and where it was located.
- For jobs in the distant past put the company name, your position title and dates only.
- Before you write a list of responsibilities, put the job into context by writing a short sentence about the overall scope of your role.
- Include as part of the scope of each role, the title of the person you reported to.
- Responsibilities should be in bullet point form and need to be short sentences, not paragraphs.
- Provide as much quantitative information as possible giving evidence of your achievements. E.g. $ saved; volumes achieved; increased EBIT by $, etc.
- Have a couple of people read and critique your resume. Ask them if they can understand what you have done in the past. If not, you may need to simplify your writing.
These pointers may seem simple and mainly common sense however they make a big difference to an employer or recruiter that may be reading up to 100 resumes a day!