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Resume writing tips for 2020
A strong resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is essential to landing a new job or role. A resume is essentially your personal marketing document, which must be designed and structured in way that best sells your skills and abilities to a potential employer.
In addition, studies are showing the average amount of time employers and recruiters spend scanning a resume has fallen to 6 seconds. This means the information you include must be both relevant and compelling, which is no easy task.
Here are essential tips for writing a resume that will help you land a job interview.
Mirror the job description
Despite this being one of the most common pieces of resume writing advice today, many jobseekers still overlook the task of showing a clear match between your skills and the role requirements. By using the same terms and language as the job description, you are already demonstrating that you meet key skills, experience and attributes the employer is looking for. But importantly, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) matching means many recruiters now rely on the technology to quickly scan hundreds of resumes. Meaning, if the AI technology can’t identify matching keywords in your resume to the job description, it’s unlikely you will be contacted for an interview.
Also, be sure to eliminate details from your resume that are unrelated to the position to keep it concise.
Focus on your achievements
When you write a resume, you should include some key accomplishments. This should be featured on the first page so that potential employers and recruiters have a chance to scan through them – hiding them on the second page may mean they don’t get read.
Explain how you contributed to the companies you’ve worked for in brief sentences: did you save money or time, exceed targets, solve problems, improve processes, or attract new customers? Where possible, quantify how you added value with numbers, percentages or dollar amounts.
Achievements can also include any strong examples outside of work, or from school or further studies if it’s reasonably recent.
Ensure your resume is compelling
The tone of your resume should be enthusiastic, upbeat and professional. Put your strongest and most relevant points first, using action words such as ‘completed’, ‘developed’ and ‘managed’, and superlatives such as ‘first’, ‘best’ and ‘highest’. Presenting your accomplishments confidently using high-impact words are key components making a resume extremely compelling for your reader.
Remember, your resume is your marketing document and needs to sell your skills and experience in the best possible way. Take a step back, put yourself in the shoes of a potential employer and ask, “Would you hire this person based off the way they’ve described themselves on their CV?”
Be critical and decide what needs to be front and centre, what descriptions need improving, what you can delete and what you can potentially add that was missing previously.
A great hack is to find a strong resume example on the internet to help guide you – perhaps the way they’ve structured the information lends to a better way of communicating the skills and experience you have in your field, market or industry? Also ask, why is this example compelling to you? Identify why it’s a successful resume and apply the same rules to yours.
Use a practical CV structure
There is no perfect or correct way to structure a resume or CV but you should always ensure it’s laid out in a clean, practical and easy-to-follow format. For example, your basic details (name, address, phone number, mobile number and email address) should be clearly listed on the front page. Next, list your training and/or education with the most recent examples first.
Finally, list your career history in reverse chronological order, including your job title, company name, start and finish dates, key responsibilities, and accomplishments for each role. At the end of your resume, it is standard to either include your references, or write “references available on request”.
To boost your resume, if space permits, include a descriptive line or professional goal or motto after your basic details. This will automatically differentiate you from candidates who have not provided one. It’s also an opportunity to show a bit of your personality, in terms of your work ethic.
Use clear formatting
Keep the layout of your resume simple with lots of white space, bulleted information where possible and a plain, readable font. Use these resume templates as a guideline. One to two pages are sufficient (longer resumes are usually for executives who must list extensive experience), and it’s crucial to use clear, concise language. It’s also a good idea to ask a meticulous friend or family member to proofread your resume for you – but only after you have spent a few rounds editing and finessing your resume first.
Remember, information on your resume has the potential to look messy. But by adding some simple formatting, your potential employer or recruiter will appreciate that you spent some extra time and effort on its presentation. Look out for the following:
- Uneven line spacing
- Missing bullet points
- Clean font or typeface such as Arial, Calibri or Helvetica
- Remember to save your final resume as a PDF or locked Word Document
By following the advice above and applying it to your resume or CV, you will have better chances of being contacted for the next stage. While the resume writing stage takes a lot of time, it is the most crucial to get right.
You can make a strong impression on prospective employers with a well thought out resume, as well as your professional cover letter. Visit our advice section for further resume and cover letter tips.
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