Your resume is perhaps the most invaluable tool that you will need during the job hunting process. Unfortunately, many job seekers underestimate the importance of following guidelines for writing a resume, leaving them scratching their heads after they fail to secure an interview for the job they are applying for.
Understanding the resume
In order to better understand the value and importance of a resume, it is critical to define exactly what it is.
A resume, in essence, is a brief summary of your employment and education history as well as other pertinent details.
Your main goal in writing a resume is to leave a good impression on the companies you are applying for. Remember, your resume is, more often than not, your first line of communication with a prospective employer. And as such, it should help you make a good impression.
If you fail to impress, the prospective employer will simply ignore you and will not consider you for the job, even if you think you are qualified.
Another great way to think of the resume is to picture it as a marketing tool. It allows you to highlight your best qualities as well as your qualifications which should entice employers to take notice of you.
Resume vs. CV vs. Bio Data
The three terms are often interchanged by people searching for a job, but keep in mind that these three documents are different from one another.
Again, a resume is a summary of your employment and educational background as well as other relevant information.
A curriculum vitae or CV is more detailed than a resume and lists all the skills, jobs, degrees, and professional memberships of a job applicant.
Finally, a biodata focuses more on the personal particulars of a person, including date of birth, gender, civil status, nationality, race, and other similar information.
Important parts of the resume
There are several formats that you can use for writing a resume depending on your work and educational background.
For example, if you have a stable career progression, it is highly recommended that you use a chronological format. This format will list your recent employment history first. This will help you emphasize your current and past jobs and your employment history.
A functional resume, on the other hand, highlights your skills and achievements over your employment history. This resume format is recommended if you have gaps in your work history or if you have jobs that you think are irrelevant.
Whatever format you choose to use, there are a few important parts that your resume should include. These include your contact information, career profile, work experience, education, and skills.
It is also important to underscore the significance of being honest in writing your resume. Companies do check the background of prospective hires and verify information. Worse, you might be committing resume fraud, which is illegal.
Writing a resume dos and don’ts
Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. Do not send the same version to every company you connect with.
Do not be afraid of your lack of experience. If you have only recently graduated or if you are planning on entering a different industry, list the relevant skills and related projects that you have worked on.
Keep your resume simple. This makes it easier for you to optimize it for applicant tracking systems. Using keywords helps, but do not overdo it.
“Don’t include anything that is confidential. If you are unsure about a piece of information, imagine whether you would like that information attributed to you on a newspaper headline.”
Do not include obvious skills like using Microsoft Office or the internet.
Consider listing volunteer work and non-work activities. These can help highlight some of your skills.
List personal accomplishments, including those related to your hobbies and personal interests. But do avoid listing hobbies that are either unrelated to the job you are applying for or are simply off-putting.
Illustrate your career advancement. Even if you worked for the same company for years, you should highlight the different roles you have taken on.
Ditch the objective statement. The only exception to that rule is if you are transferring to a different industry.
Be honest about gaps in employment. Instead of trying to hide gaps, tell the prospective employer what you did during that period.
Avoid jargon and clichés. Instead, use powerful verbs. Banish negative words. Keep a positive spin on things in order to put yourself in a good light. Make sure your resume is easy for everyone to understand.
Remember to include your contact information (name, phone number, email address).
Try to keep your resume as short as possible. If you can, keep to just one page. However, if it is not possible, do not use a font size that is too small.
Content trumps design. Don’t pour too much time into designing your resume. Instead, focus on its content and watch out for errors.
Stick to one to two fonts. One font is better. Go easy on text effects.
Make it easier for the reader to pore through the information by using proper alignment, columns, and bullet points.
Finally, check your resume after you are done writing it, and then check again.