20 Tips on How to Write a Resume
When you come to write a resume, you need to spend more than the two minutes that you spend reading this article to research your approach. While we have created these 20 tips, here is a far more in-depth “how to write a resume” guide – that is 52 minutes well spent!
We would like to share some general tips around resume writing. As with much job-search advice, many of them are common sense, but in the brain fog of a job search they are worth repeating. Do the basics and do them well.
Get all the key info onto the front page. 40% of job seekers will opt for a two-page resume, so choose a resume template that puts your core selling points in the first page.
Include a hyperresource_location to resource_locationedIn. Most resumes should have a resource_location to your resource_locationedIn. Spell the hyperresource_location in full as resource_locations may not always work or the person may be reading a print-out.
Have both PDF and Word documents ready to go. There is nothing worse than having to do last-minute editing. Some employers request one or the other. Use a resume builder.
Avoid emojis. Stay on the safe side. Yes, increasing amounts of people are using emojis on their resume. It may become mainstream, but until that point, we would advise against it.
A resume with symbols is okay though. Using symbols and icons on your resume is acceptable, but you run the risk of the ATS system not picking up on vital information.
Tailor the summary for each role. Change at least 20% of your resume summary for each role. Tailor the application – write it for each individual hiring manager.
Write a reverse chronological resume. Only opt for another format if you are a recent graduate or career changer who wishes to emphasize relevant skills over work experience.
Create bullets starting with action verbs in the past tense. Directed, facilitated, monitored, etc. In this way you get straight to the heart of the action without any additional waffle.
Share what you did and why it mattered to you. While a cover letter is the main vehicle for showcasing your personality, try to share your “why” wherever possible within a resume.
Don’t mention responsibilities – only achievements. Most candidates can (and will) create a list of past responsibilities that fit the job description. But were they any good at the job?
Don’t be afraid to give a reason for an employment gap. It is often better to address an employment gap (over 6-9 months) in a resume. You can also only list years of employment.
Focus on hard skills in the skills section. Your soft skills should come across within the achievements that you share. Hard skills are easier to quantify – only pick the rare ones.
Start the stories that you wish to tell at an interview. Do not include anything in your resume that you would not wish to expand upon during an interview. Be selective.
Share your education, no matter how long ago it was. The education section of a resume is an essential book end to your career. Share the details – ideally with GPA or equivalent.
Tell a career story of continuous development. Try to make it clear that you are on a continuing path of growth. Build to a crescendo towards the point of looking for a new role.
Include keywords for the ATS, but don’t overdo it. If your most recent job titles and experiences are a rough fit for the role, then you should pass the initial ATS test.
Have a look at example resumes for inspiration. The internet is full of example resumes for all sorts of occupations. Most are pretty decent, so adopt the best bits for yourself.
Don’t include references. You might wish to include a line such as “references on request”, but it is obvious that references will be requested when the time comes. It wastes space.
Only quantify with numbers if they are genuinely impressive. It is advisable to quantify achievements, but only do it if they numbers will set you apart from the competition.
Sleep on it before you send it off. Never (ever) send your resume off to an employer if you sense you are rushing. Those last-minute changes could make all the difference.
As mentioned, these tips are merely scratching the surface. Everyone’s situation is different, so take every piece of advice and ask yourself whether it applies to you. Be deliberate when you write your resume – you often only get one chance to get it right.