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Tips for writing a resume

In order to have the best chance of securing your next role, you have to make sure your resume is up to scratch and ready to impress.

Your CV is the hard copy of your professional identity, so it’s important when writing a resume to include the right information, and chop out the wrong information.

Whether you’re new to the industry you’re applying for a role in, or you’re getting back to basics after a spell of unsuccessful applications, these three key resume tips can help you stand out and start your job hunt on the right foot.

1. Tailor your CV towards the role you want

Tailoring your information to the position you’re applying for is crucial. Look at your existing resume with fresh eyes, and strip it back to the basics including:

  • An introduction or objective statement
  • Your work experience and achievements
  • Your education and study accomplishments
  • Your referees

As you rework your CV, keep referring back to the job description of the role you’re applying for. If the company requires a multi-tasker with an eye for detail, ensure your resume highlights those qualities. Keeping the content highly relevant to the position you’re applying for demonstrates that you are made for this job..

Do

  • Pull keywords from the job description, and use these throughout your resume content
  • Write your introduction or objective in a way that professionally indicates the level of passion you have for industry and the role you’re applying for
  • Ensure every previous role or study achievement is somehow tied back to the experience and qualities your prospective employer is seeking. For example, your Bachelor of Arts may have given you an opportunity to hone your written communication and reporting skills, or a Certificate in Accounts Administration will have given you a wide range of transferable admin skills.

Don’t

  • Copy and paste an objective statement from an example you found on the internet. If you do choose to include an objective, make it your own!
  • Leave in part-time jobs from five or 10 years ago that have no relevance to the role you’re applying for now
  • Include unnecessary personal details such as your date of birth, marital status, hobbies or previous salaries

2. Sell yourself and your achievements

Your CV is your one big shot to sell yourself to a potential employer, so it’s crucial to make every word count. Now’s not the time to be humble or subtle,– so prepare to get into the self-promotional zone.

Listing relevant work experience is one thing, but you’ll knock it out of the park if you can talk about the results you achieved in that role. If you’re applying for a sales position, highlight your team building success achieved in previous roles. If you’re gunning for a role as a labourer, explain how you worked collaboratively and met deadlines in the past.

The same principal applies for relevant study achievements and qualifications. For each, highlight the skills you learned that will help you succeed in this particular role.

Do

  • Focus on results and success. Be specific in what you achieved.
  • List well-spoken referees who will be enthusiastic to sing your praises. Contact your referees ahead of time so they can cleverly link your experience with them back to the role you’re applying for if they’re called.
  • Demonstrate how your skills will translate to success in this new role.

Don’t

  • Don’t ne afraid to brag. You get one shot to make an impression, so you’ll need to be confident to rise above the noise of all those other applications
  • Avoid exaggerating achievements or skills. Honesty is the best policy, and your potential employer is sure to quiz your referees to verify your experience.
  • List awards you gained in high school if you've been in the workforce for 5+ years. Similarly, don’t feel compelled to include personal achievements (running a marathon) unless they’re highly relevant to the role.

3. Format like a professional

Now that you have the content of your resume nailed down, it’s crucial to present that information in the best possible way. While a rainbow of Comic Sans text may set you apart from the rest, it probably won’t get you noticed for the right reasons.

Your CV should look professional, and be easy to read in a printed format or on-screen. Many hiring mangers will not bother to print CVs until applicants have been shortlisted, if at all.

While it may be appropriate to add design elements if you’re applying for a role in a creative industry, it’s generally best to stick with a clean, minimalist look. Use one of the pre-loaded resume templates available in Microsoft Word, or download one from the web.

Do

  • Stick with fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman at font size 10 or 12
  • Use bold subheadings to break up the content of your CV and make it easier to skim
  • Check whether the application guidelines specify a particular file format, such as Word or PDF, and provide your CV in the format required

Don’t

  • Go crazy with different fonts or colours
  • Include a photo unless it’s relevant for the role you’re applying for, and specified in the role description
  • Forget to triple check for typos and spelling errors, and have a friend skim over your CV before you send it away for good measure. They may pick something up that you and your spell-checker have missed.