A resume is a document that summarises who you are, what you’ve done in your career and how well you’ve done. The resume is designed predominately as a “door opener” for you. It should give the reader enough information to understand your background and how it relates to either a specific position or perhaps just potential opportunities. The resume is designed to promote two-way discussions between the interviewer and the interviewee and foremost it should be a “selling or marketing” document rather than simply a clinical record of your career history.
Professional job seekers will always “tailor” and “fine tune” resumes to different roles. Never rely on a “tailored” cover letter attached to a generic resume. The person screening may not read your cover letter and simply rely on the resume to base their decision-making. This is a common error for job seekers to make. The bottom line is you just can’t get away with one resume for all potential job opportunities. So tailoring the resume is a must.
What works and what doesn’t
There are some fundamental guidelines to follow when preparing any resume. Experience tells us that there are things that press the “hot buttons” of decision makers and things that turn them right off. Here is a checklist when developing your resumes so you can increase your chances of success.
A resume that is relevant to a particular role or potential opportunity is probably the number one priority to accomplish. Where you make a direct link between your background and a position via the resume you will substantially increase your chances of success. Tailor the resume to the criteria for the role through emphasising key aspects of your background and the underlying competencies that make a direct connection between you and the requirements for the position. Sometimes it only requires subtle changes like emphasising key roles you have held rather than a simple list of previous positions you have held.
Develop a resume that expresses clearly what your track record is, rather than just a log of responsibilities you had. Make the resume “outcome focused” with either qualitative or quantitative achievements documented.
Generally work in reverse chronological order when presenting your career history. Use appropriate headings and keep the least important details at the back of the resume. Remember, individual resumes are screened by HR practitioners, recruiters and line managers within 10-30 seconds, so give priority to the most important points up front. The mark of a well-structured resume is where the decision makers can assess you on the first page of your resume and treat the rest of the resume as supplementary reading.
There should be a logical link between:-
- Who you are (skills and knowledge)
- What you do (responsibilities)
- Key result areas
- How well you do it (achievements)
- Key performance indicators
General Tips for Resume Preparation
- Keep it succinct and relevant; ask yourself as you write something in your resume “is this contributing to my chances” and “is it adding any value”.
- Work out what can reasonably be inferred by the reader and what needs to be specifically stated, i.e., what’s explicit and what’s implicit and how much do I need to explain in detail.
- Condense or collapse 2 or more similar roles in the one organisation into perhaps one role where it makes sense to do so.
- Think from the readers point of view, not your own – what are they looking for and how would their ideal candidate present on paper.
- Be objective, honest and factual.
- Sell yourself.
This CV template gives you an idea of how to lay out your resume in a professional modern format, giving specific details about your skills and experience.
Download as a Word document here
With increased competition in every market, tailoring your CV to a certain industry can be extremely helpful. Tailoring it even further, right down to a job role can be just the push your credentials need to land on the top of the pile.
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