It’s a new year, and that means that lots of you are probably thinking about whether or not you’re happy in your current jobs. That, or you’re one of the many people who are looking for more secure work (or just a fresh start) off the back of the financial crisis that has been the Coronavirus pandemic.
Whatever the case, I understand how overwhelming it can be to reduce all your work and experience to one – very important – document: your resume.
Just the thought of editing a resume after it’s been collecting dust for some time is enough to cause many to break out in hives.
What’s worth including? Do people still want to know you volunteered with Meals on Wheels back in year nine? Should you add in that you learnt basic-level Japanese with Duolingo?
To help with the anxiety around this topic, I reached out to a couple of experts who are far more knowledgeable on this area than I am. Tanya Abbey, CEO of Black Wolf Consulting and Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at people management platform, Employment Hero offered their insights.
To start, how important is a resume, really?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is very.
“Your resume portrays who you are as both a professional fit for a role and your cultural fit for an organisation,” Hattingh shared over email.
“Your resume is the first ‘portrait’ of you that is screened by a talent team or hiring manager (for smaller companies).”
In short, it’s the first impression you’re going to make with the company you assumedly want to get a job with. It matters.
What are the most common mistakes job-seekers make in their resumes?
According to Abbey, a lot of people have grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in their resumes. Believe me, I understand that it happens, but best to give that bad boy a once over with a service like Grammarly to ensure you’re able to correct all those sneaky typos.
Other common no-nos are referencing the wrong job (shudders) and using inconsistent font styles and sizes. Keep your resume as uniform and easy to read as possible. And double-check the document before pressing send.
What makes up a perfect resume?
Now that you know what you need to avoid, here’s what you should be including in your resume.
Hattingh shared that the “perfect resume” is one that’s concise; details your achievements in your roles, and lists your former positions chronological order (most recent up first).
“It can be helpful to include why you left a role (especially if it was a short tenured role),” Hattingh added.
It’s also important that you consider “the organisation’s culture and values” when you write up your resume. The aim is to “show who you are and how you align perfectly to their purpose or mission. Always do your research,” she said.
Abbey added to this, offering a list of recommendations that she likes to see included.
- A good, but short summary describing what you are looking for and your key strengths.
- Skills snapshot/overview
- Any relevant certificates or degrees to the role
- Employment history that is clearly outlined and describes the duties that you undertook in each role
- Achievements in each role (one or two bullet points)
- Reasons for leaving your last role (relevant to Senior roles or to explain gaps)
And if you’re unsure where to start?
Get yourself some advice. Abbey shared that were are free templates online that you can use, or services like Place Me are also solid options.
LinkedIn has also rolled out some free Job Bootcamp sessions that are designed to help you land your dream job, so that may be worth a look. Their LinkedIn Learning tools can be incredibly useful, too.
And if the worst may happen and you don’t get that job you so want, it can be really helpful to ask for feedback – you may hear some advice that will change the game for you.
It’s at about this time that I should let you know that Pedestrian Jobs (part of Pedestrian Group, which Lifehacker Australia is a part of) is a pretty nifty place to search for that ideal job once you’ve polished up that resume. Just sayin’.