Let’s be real: Finding a job can be a gruelling process. From looking for the perfect one that fits your skills to actually getting your application noticed, it’s a challenge that takes lots of time, effort and patience. And while they say first impressions don’t last, they certainly inform whether or not you’ll have a chance for a second step or not. So it goes without saying that a resume is vital to job-hunting.
I’ve only been on the other side of the fence until early this year when I had to screen applicants for writing positions in my current job. You can say I’ve seen both ends of the coin and I now have a better understanding of what people who do the hiring actually look for. So ahead, resume writing tips to get your job-hunting going.
Resume vs Curriculum Vitae
Actually, wait, before we get to the nitty gritty, it’s best to learn first what the differences are between a resume and a curriculum vitae a.k.a. CV. The two mainly differ in terms of their length, purpose and flexibility. A resume is a one- or two-page document that highlights your skills and experience, while a curriculum vitae can be much longer and shows a more extensive look into your experience and academic background.
A resume can be tailor-fit to the type of job you’re applying to, while a CV’s contents will remain the same except for when it is updated with a new experience or new academic accomplishment (e.g. master’s degree or doctorate).
Types of resume
Depending on what you want to apply for, there are different types of resume.
- chronological resume
- functional resume
- combination resume
- creative resume
Resume writing tips you ought to list down
Focus on what you want to sell
Think of your resume as a catalogue for products (e.g. skills) you want to sell. In the same way you want a tangible product to be bought for the value it will give to the buyer, you want your personal USPs (unique selling points) to be highlighted and bought as well.
But it also goes without saying that honesty and authenticity plays a huge part in this. You can’t just pad your resume with skills you know nothing about to make it look good.
Tailor and tweak
Not all jobs are the same. You won’t highlight your bookkeeping skills if you were applying for a writing job now, would you? So make sure you tailor and tweak your resume according to the job you’re applying to.
But more than that, tailor it based on the company and its culture.
If you’re seeking employment at a creative company, don’t hesitate to show them what you’ve got. If you’re looking for a job somewhere more conservative, maybe tone it down a bit.
Take pride in your work… but back it up
More than the skills you have, recruiters are interested in what you can do. So make sure you’re laying your accomplishments out on the table. But do back it up with data and facts. Highlight what steps you’ve made that helped propel your project or team. Did you increase your team’s sales numbers by 5% in 2018? Don’t be scared to write that down!
Design is important
Yes, even if you’re not applying for a creative job. Design is about how well information is presented, with the intention of it being understood — but doing so in a way that it looks good. Be aware of where to put what and make sure there’s a flow to your career story.
Of course, one of the best resume writing tips you will ever get is to put your contact details! Personally, I like it when people put summaries or objectives. It gives me an overview of what to expect at a glance. And then I’d like to see their experience and what they were able to accomplish during their stint in the companies they worked for. References are okay but not necessary for me because people can be quite subjective.
How it looks also matters, so make sure you use the right fonts and proper spacing for your resume. Here’s a nifty guide on what fonts to use.
Edit, edit and edit
If there’s a tip that would rank superior over other resume writing tips, it’s this: edit your work because the little details matter! A single typo error can go a long way, especially if the person reading your resume is meticulous about things like that. For me, more than it being an error, I see it as a lack of preparedness, which leaves a bad impression.
So make sure you edit and proofread your resume before sending it. Ask a friend to review it for you if you can.