Writing a resume can seem like a daunting task. Your career could hinge on how you craft and compose the most important pages of your life. But like all challenges, all you need is a plan.
Here are valuable tips and tricks to consider when writing your resume:
1. Find Your Resume Format
The type of resume format you choose can influence your chances of landing that all-important job interview. There are 3 types of resume format. The one you select should fit your purpose, current work experience and employment status.
Chronological Resume Format:
- Ideal for:
- People who have established tenure in an industry and are looking for a job in a similar field.
- Those who are starting out or are in mid-level in their career.
- Those with little to no gaps in their employment history.
- Easier to follow for recruiters.
- Effectively presents your progression.
- Summary Statement
- Work Experience
Functional Resume Format:
- People with significant gaps in their career or work history.
- Those who are targeting a specific position and plan to highlight relevant experiences and skills.
- Those who are just entering the job market and want to emphasize skills.
- Shifts focus away from resume deficiencies.
- Allows you to validate your qualifications through skills and relevant experiences.
- Summary Statement
- Work Experience or Skills
Combination Resume Format:
- People who are planning a career change.
- Those who are highly- respected or considered a “master” in their field or industry.
- Allow you to highlight strengths and talents that are relevant to the position.
- Presents a clear and organized format to weave your story line.
- Summary Statement
- Work Experience
2. Set up the “Look” of Your Resume
When writing your resume, always think of making it easy for the recruiter or hiring manager to read. Being a recruiter is not an easy job. They go through over a hundred resumes every day. A well-structured and readable resume is like a breath of fresh air for a recruiter. It will definitely put you a step ahead of others.
Readability should be your primary consideration when it comes to choosing font styles. It should present itself clearly on the computer screen or when printed on paper.
Avoid using fonts that are categorized as “Serif” because these have been known to cause problems with scanning software. The accepted font styles for resumes are as follows:
- Trebuchet MS
- Century Gothic
- Lucida Sans
- Times New Roman
Each font style will appear differently based on font size. Again, think of readability. Generally, anything smaller than 11 may not be readable.
Margins and Spacing
When setting up the margins and spacing of your resume, keep in mind the recruiter may want to print or scan a hard copy. The last thing you would want is to have important content cut out. It may ruin the continuity of your story line.
The rule of thumb is to keep your margins at one-inch on all sides. A minimum of single spacing between lines is acceptable for recruiters.
One of the biggest oversight job seekers make is the type of paper used for resumes. The type of paper you use will create an impression on your level of professionalism.
Although resumes are popularly e-mailed, it is always a good idea to have a hard copy available.
Here are tips on choosing the right quality of paper:
- Weight – Use paper that is rated at 24 pounds. This is perfect for laser printing than the flimsier 20 pounds which is more ideal for copying.
- Color – White
- Size – 8 ½ x 11
Use Bold Face to highlight sub-headings, categories and important references in your resume. Bold Face creates emphasis and helps distinguish one category from another.
3. Develop Your Resume Structure
A strategic and purposeful structure will help organize information and create a well- focused resume.
Here are the key sections in your resume and how to optimize their benefits:
Hiring managers are perpetually on the clock. The last thing you would want is for the hiring manager to play detective on your resume. The purpose of the Header is to immediately identify the applicant behind the resume.
Here are some tips on how to make the Header stand out:
- Indicate your full name.
- Include your city, zip code and state.
- Hyperlink your e-mail.
- Hyperlink your LinkedIn account.
- Hyperlink your personal branding website if available.
Instead of the conventional Objective Statement, write a short bio. The bio could also take the place of the Resume Summary Statement.
Highlight your relevant experiences and include all the important details including fact, figures, statistics and personalities.
Skills and Abilities
Create a summary of your skills and abilities but highlight the ones that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
In addition to college education, indicate if you completed higher learning or studied related courses.
4. Resume Writing Trends to Consider
Here is a summary of trends on resume writing that have developed over the last few years. You do not have to apply these recommendations on your resume. Review each trend and consider which ones would add more value to your branded proposition.
For years, neuroscientists have conducted studies on how color affects consumer decisions. Certain behaviors are associated with specific colors and it could also have an effect on your resume.
Research has shown that sentence length has an effect on comprehension. At 14 words, readers comprehended 90% of the information. But at 43 words, comprehension dropped to 10%. There is an obvious inverse relationship between sentence length and level of comprehension. Keep your sentences to no more than 20 words.
Employers are encouraged by a candidate’s ability to contribute to their previous employers’ bottom line. If you spearheaded a project or instituted reforms that enhanced the financial position of the company, you should highlight the specific experience and include the dollar amount or percentage improvement.
The Value of LinkedIn
For job seekers, LinkedIn is the most important social network to set up an account at. Many recruiters require applicants to grant access to their LinkedIn profile. The free version LinkedIn already offers a multitude of benefits that it will not be necessary to get the paid premium membership.
5. Common Resume Writing Mistakes to Avoid
Although these are “common” people still regularly make them. Do not rush through your resume and review them as many times as possible to make sure these mistakes are not there:
Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
These errors are almost unforgivable and will definitely throw off the recruiter.
One Size Fits All
Blanketing your resume across a wide spectrum of industries may be an efficient way of getting things done but it will also make you appear lazy, uncaring and irresponsible.
The Resume Rant
An effectively structured and well- thought out resume will get your message across. But one that is poorly organized and rambled will make your resume as incoherent as a social media rant.
The resume is not the document to reveal your salary range as it will make you appear presumptuous. Compensation is best discussed during the interview.
Recruiters will appreciate the thought process, time and effort that go behind the creation of a resume. When crafting the document that could get you the interview, you should not let time become a factor.
It is perfectly fine to go through several draft revisions until you are confident of its form, length, aesthetics, structure and content. Ask a trusted friend or associate; preferably one with experience in recruitment, for his or her opinion. Remember that once you submit your resume, there is no getting it back. The resume will be tasked to get you the interview.