Crafting an excellent resume is an artform, but it shouldn’t be an art piece. There are hundreds of tips and tricks to crafting the perfect page (or two) that showcases who you are and why you’re perfect for the role. I’ve had a wide range of varied roles over the years, in retail, writing and science, and here are five resume tips that helped me land an interview.
A Successful Layout
The #1 tip you’re likely to find anywhere is to ‘always start with your name and contact details at the top’. That’s great, but what comes next? I’ve often been told the next best thing to fit on your resume is a summary statement about who you are and what you want to achieve, but often, especially if you're coming straight out of high school or a university degree, you lack the experience, which makes this comes across as unnecessary filler that is purely there to cover holes.
The way a resume looks is incredibly important. Once you’re past the name and contact details, I’d suggest getting straight into the skills section. On the other hand, if you’re lacking in professional experience, then get straight into the education section. You can always bring in your achievements in past roles here and remember to use numbers – numbers are so easy to process and give an employer a much better sense of how you’re likely to contribute to their team.
Show Off Your Skills
This is a tip that changed the way I looked at resumes – instead of just listing the skills you’ve obtained in previous employment, list how long you’ve been using them. I’ve often created lists of skills that start with things like ‘ advanced knowledge of’ or ‘experienced in’ but this doesn’t give an employer or hiring manager of anything tangible. What is an ‘advanced knowledge’? Instead, create a list of bullet points that demonstrates the length of time you’ve been putting those skills to good use. If you’ve been using Microsoft Excel for 17 years, it’s definitely worth letting your prospective employer know.
Lead With Your Education If You Lack Experience
It feels like it’s becoming harder and harder to get an entry-level job, as more positions ask for experienced employees, so fresh out of a degree you might feel like you’re already a step behind. That shouldn’t be the case. If you lack professional experience, the best thing to do is lead with your education or degree and include bullet points about the kind of skills you picked up in that degree and how long you were using them for. The explains that your lack of experience is a result of the fact you were studying, but also demonstrates that you understand how your recent education can benefit your employer.
Use A Simple And Minimalist Resume Design
Get rid of that ‘trying-to-land-in-the-Louvre’ nonsense and just deliver a straight-forward, factual account of your skills and expertise. Keep the formatting consistent but draw the reader’s eyes to the most important parts of the document using headings and bullet points. If an employer gets the feeling that you’re efficient, just from reading your resume, you’re halfway there. It also might seem obvious, but keep everything in the document left-aligned and don’t plonk boxes of information haphazardly just because you think it looks pretty. Repetition is a killer, too. You want to keep this thing to one page, if possible.
Customise Your Resume To The Role You Want
Even though the process is time-consuming, you should always tailor each resume to the job you are applying for. These days, the benefits of cover letters are If you think your resume feels generic and you’re using it to apply for multiple roles – then prospective employers will be able to see that too. This also means you should get rid of any ‘filler’, any previous employment experience that is of no relevance to the role you’re applying for. In my experience, if you’ve had a varied employment history then it’s easiest if you save a few different versions of your resume for the types of jobs you’re chasing and chop-and-change skills and employment history as needed.
Don’t Use A Resume At All
This isn’t necessarily the best option for every line of work, but there are certain positions that will reward an entirely different approach to a job application. There’s a real strength to using video because it succinctly gets across the idea of who you are and what you’re about in a much more easily digestible way. Could you do it when applying for a role as a chemical engineer? Probably, but it’s not going to be worth it. It’s just good to keep in mind that, in 2017, employers don’t want to be hit with a wall of text and successive pages of bullet points. Send a short video instead. Front-load it so that it’s immediately interesting. Explain why you want the job and showcase why you’re the best fit for it.
Once you’ve got a successful resume and you’ve made it to the interview stage, then you’re playing a whole different ball game. You can check out our tips for interviews here.
Do you have any resume tips or tricks that have helped you in landing your dream role? Let us know below!