Seeking a job is one hell of a job. It’s very much like working, as it requires patience, effective communication, organization and time management skills. But the first and most important task for job seekers is to build a good resume.
Your resume is the gospel to the world of your talent and accomplishments. This one- or two-page summary of your skills and experience needs to clearly show your potential employer what makes you a viable candidate for a particular job.
- Importance of a Good Resume
- Making Your Resume Stand Out
- Formatting a Resume
- Method 1: Make a Chronological Resume
- Method 2: Make a Functional Resume
- Method 3: Make a Combination Resume
Importance of a Good Resume
However good your connections might be, you cannot depend on others for every opportunity in life. A professional resume will make you stand out in the crowd of applicants.
It is the best way to make a strong first and lasting impression on the mind of a potential employer. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it sounds. Your resume must be precise, yet it should describe you in the best way possible for the job.
To be fair, writing a good resume is not a complicated procedure. It just requires time and hard work in building it.
Making Your Resume Stand Out
There are a lot of things you need to bear in mind while creating a resume. The foremost is the specific job for which you are applying. Your knowledge of the job and its requirements will culminate into better customization of your resume and increase your chances of being selected.
Here are some things that will help you soar above the mountain of resumes and make an outstanding resume. Get free samples.
1. Make a bespoke resume
You cannot employ the same strategy with all people when trying to persuade them to a particular point of view. The same concept applies here. A bespoke resume is one that is customized to address the specific requirements of a particular job.
Resume customization is of primal importance if you wish to land an interview. Yes, it can be time-consuming, but it is equally as important as performing well in an interview. If your resume is tailored to the job you are applying for, it will stand out among the mound of resumes received and help you get in the door.
If you are sending your resume overseas, be sure to use British English spelling and phrases when applying for jobs in England, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa. For the rest of the world, use American English.
You don’t need to start from scratch every time you apply for a job. Just create a sample resume with data like personal information, education, work history, references and essential skills. Then, make a copy of your sample resume and customize it as needed for each job.
2. Incorporate industry-specific keywords and buzzwords
Your knowledge of a job’s requirements will help you recognize the essential keywords for that particular job in the industry. The presence of these keywords will help your resume make the necessary impact in the review of your job-specific skills.
Often these days, resumes go through a software program that identifies the relevance of each resume according to certain keywords. However, don’t indulge in unnecessary keyword stuffing. Stick to what you know, as the software will likely browse the resumes for related keywords, too. For example, along with the keyword “analyst”, the software may also search for the keywords “Microsoft Access” or “Excel”.
There are also some power words or buzzwords that will help your resume shine in the eyes of the hiring manager. For example, if you led a project, use words like chaired/oversaw/coordinated in describing your role in the project. If you developed a product, use words like administered/engineered/devised in your resume, and if you can boast that you increased productivity, use words like amplified/accelerated/expedited.
3. Edit and edit again
Proofread your resume for any grammatical errors or ambiguous sentences. You do not want the hiring manager to be misled or confused by what you wrote. Scrutinize everything before sending out a resume.
Also, make the format of the resume aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. Too much clutter must be avoided. Be sure to add proper spacing between lines.
4. Length of the resume
You need to get your message across in as few words as possible. The key in resume writing is to stay focused on the job for which you are applying and customize your information to highlight your skills and experience that are most applicable. Remember, all of this must be done within the confines of one or two pages.
The ideal length of a resume for an entry-or mid-level position is one page. If your experience spans more than 10 years or your technical skill set is extensive, only then should you move to a two-page resume.
In academic circles, resumes can be longer if needed to incorporate published work, research or keynote addresses.
5. Do not lie
Be genuine and truthful in describing your skills and accomplishments. Authenticity is essential, as you don’t want to be the person who lied on his or her resume. Even if you feel you can pull off something, it is not worth the risk, as you may be flagged from that particular organization and these days, word travels fast.
Formatting a Resume
1. Font size and color
Stick to the professional font size of 11 or 12 for your resume. Titles or headlines can be at 14-or 16-point font size. Only use these four font sizes in your resume. Larger than 16-point type is unprofessional and smaller than 11 points is illegible.
Use solid black for the font color and remove the formatting from any hyperlinks of your email address or LinkedIn account. Change the conventional blue hyperlink color to black.
2. Font type
The font type is as important in a resume as brevity. One incorrect font will shorten your job prospects manifold. Don’t be too artistic on your resume with a font like 'Algerian' or too childish with a font like 'Comic Sans MS'. The resume font must project your sincerity and professionalism.
Here is a list of possible font options.
The serif fonts like 'Times New Roman' are traditional and exude authority. They are quite successful and reliable resume fonts. However, Times New Roman sometimes becomes difficult to read. 'Georgia' can work as an excellent replacement.
San serif fonts like 'Arial' and 'Helvetica' are thought of as modern, simple and clean fonts. The latter was declared as the best font for resumes by Yahoo, although, it is not available on Windows PCs.
3. Page layout and formatting
Margins: Set the margins at least ½ to 1 inch from all the sides. It will prevent important information from being cropped out while printing.
Line spacing: Use at least 1 to 1.5 point line spacing for proper legibility of the text.
Alignment: The body text must be left aligned, while the header text must be centered at the top of the page.
Paper size: Use the standard 8½ x 11 paper size, and if you are sending printed resumes, use the best quality paper that you can afford. Also, print your resume on a laser or inkjet printer, which will give you a better quality result.
4. Create the header
This text located at the top center of your resume should include your name, street address, email address, and blog/website address (optional) . Choose either 12- or 14-point font size for your Name. If the font is small in nature, a 16 point font size is also valid.
5. Make a list of keywords
Oftentimes, your resume will go through a computerized screening process before reaching the hiring manager. The computer looks for industry-specific keywords in your resume and gives each resume a rating according to the presence of those keywords in the right places.
Make a list of keywords that are directly related to your job profile and industry, and make sure to include them in your resume.
6. Decide the organizational structure of your resume
Resumes can be organized in three ways –chronologically, functionally or a combination of the two. The work history and job type will determine which approach is best.
Chronological resume: When you have worked within a specific job category for many years and you specialize in your field, a chronological resume will serve you best. It is especially suitable for those who are looking to work their way up the career ladder by showcasing their increasing responsibility over time.
Functional resume: If you wish to highlight your diverse skills and the ability to manage several projects at one time, a functional resume will serve you better. It focuses on your talent and the experience that you have garnered over the years working in different fields. For self-employed individuals or those who have gaps in their work chronology, a functional resume will help.
Combination resume: As the name suggests, this is a combination of elements from both a chronological and function approach. You can highlight your skills along with giving your potential employer a complete idea of your work history and the positions you have held. It will help those who are changing their job profile or industry.
After selecting the organizational structure you want to use, follow the applicable instructions below to finally make one for yourself.
Method 1: Make a Chronological Resume
Step 1. Objective or Career Summary
Start your resume by stating your career objective (if you are an entry-level graduate) or a career summary (if you have work experience). The content of either the summary or objective must be brief and worded simply and clearly. A career summary is often best written using bullet points.
It is not entirely necessary to write a career summary, but it helps to condense the content and target the eyeballs of the potential employer. As for a career objective statement, unless you are an entry-level graduate, or coming back to work after a long period, do not use this. For those writing an objective, wrap it up in 50 words.
Step 2. Employment History
In a reverse chronological order (recent first, oldest last), write out your employment history. If you recently graduated from college, you can mention the relevant experience you may have gained in an internship or summer training.
State the position you held, dates for the span of employment/training/internship, the name of the company, its location (optional), and the roles and responsibilities of the job.
Step 3. Education History
Exactly like the employment history, provide your education history in reverse chronological order. List all types of diplomas/degrees that you have earned, including those through any special apprenticeship or vocational training.
If you are an undergrad, provide your expected date of graduation. While listing the details, mention the college or institution name, address, study major and the span of dates that you’ve attended for each separate entry. Do not mention the GPA of your grad school, unless it is higher than 3.
Step 4. Skills
List all the skills you possess that are necessary to execute the job with perfection. Some common skills pertaining to working knowledge of computers and software, communication and leadership can be generically mentioned.
Job-specific skills must be on the foreground, such as knowledge of analytics tools for a business analyst job.
If you can speak in more than one language, mention it along with the level of expertise. Finally, if there is anything else that you are proficient in, give it a mention.
Step 5. References
Include at least two professional references in your resume, excluding your relatives and friends. A manager or supervisor under whom you worked and a college teacher in whose class you fared well would be perfect for this category.
Mention their name, position, contact number and email, in the given order.
If you are a recent college graduate, you can skip this step and save space for some other relevant information. Since employers ask for this information during an interview, you can provide the relevant references at that moment.
Method 2: Make a Functional Resume
Step 1. Career Summary
If you have a significant amount of work experience, it is favorable to condense that experience and skill set as bullet points in a career summary. It will save you some valuable space in your resume.
Step 2. Education History
List your education history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Include any degrees or diplomas, vocational training or apprenticeships. Write the details in the order of college or institution name, date of commencement, study major or course name. State your GPA only if it is higher than 3.
Step 3. Skills
This category is usually replaced by the professional experience category. Think of this section as a combination of professional experience and skills. So what you need to do is describe your skills that you applied over the years in different jobs.
List essential skills that you possess and you feel are applicable to the job for which you are applying. You can explain in detail your various skills and how those skills were implemented in your work.
Play to your strengths, and write something that you feel might give you an edge. Make sure that you are well-versed in that category. Soft skills like effective job delegation and communication or leadership skills will come in handy, too.
Step 4. Awards and Achievements
Portray the best side of yourself in this category by listing all the awards and achievements in your career. It is important to portray the hardworking and successful side of you. Even college-level achievements can be included, although no one wants to know whether you were a high school prom king or queen.
For technical jobs, a patent under your name would prove to be effective. Highlight any moment of recognition in your life when your work was acknowledged by your supervisor or a client.
Highlight any moment of recognition in your life when your work was acknowledged by your supervisor or a client.
Step 5. Work History
Write down your work history in reverse chronological order, mentioning the job title, dates for the span of employment, company name and address (optional). There is no need to elaborate on the job description or your role in the organization.
Step 6. Relevant Experience
If you have some volunteer work or unpaid training under your belt, add it to your resume under the section titled Relevant Experience. As the name suggests, you must be careful to add the experience that is relevant to the specific job.
Step 7. References
At least two and at most four references are enough in your resume. Add their names, job titles, contact numbers and email addresses, in the given order.
Giving your references a heads-up before including their name on your resume will benefit both you and them, especially if it has been a while since you had contact with them.
Method 3: Make a Combination Resume
Step 1. Choose your organizational structure
Since a combination resume is a mix of chronological and functional resumes,you can pick and choose your format accordingly. Incorporate those elements from either of the two that will highlight your skills and job responsibilities in the best manner.
You may change the location of subheadings or decide whether you want to elaborate in the skill section or the work experience section.
Since you can customize this resume in any way you like, the following steps contain one suggested means of organizing the information.
Step 2. Career Summary or Objective
Write a condensed yet inclusive summary of your skill set essential for the job, work experience and awards, written in bulleted points.
If you are a recent college graduate, write a concise career objective in less than 50 words.
Step 3. Education History
List your training or college programs that you have undergone, spanning from the most recent to the oldest one. State any degrees or diplomas, training programs or apprenticeships, etc.
Mention the name of the college or institution followed by the location, date of commencement and the study major or course name, in the given order. Mention your GPA only if it is higher than 3.
Step 4. Work Experience
List the relevant work experience in this section. If you are a recent college graduate, start with your internship or summer training experience. The chronology would be from recent to oldest.
Include the job position, dates of employment, the name of the company, its location (optional), and the role and responsibilities of that job.
Step 5. Skills
List the relevant skills that will prove beneficial to the job you want. Mention the skills that are essential for the job first, then others according to your proficiency in them.
List some unique skills that might give you an edge over other candidates, if they are within the same realm as that of the job.
Step 6. References
Two to four references are sufficient in the resume. These must be your managers or supervisors under whom you have worked directly. It can be a college professor too, in whose class you performed well. For entry-level graduates, this section is not mandatory.
Write the name, job title, contact number and email address of each reference, in the given order.