10 tips to guide you in writing a professional resume
Writing a Professional Resume is a challenging task, regardless of your expertise in any one field. We operate in an extremely competitive marketplace within which it has become paramount to stand out. If you cannot separate yourself from the competition, your resume will end up amidst the hundreds of others, sitting in the discarded pile. Here are 10 tips that will ensure you put your best foot forward.
1. Maximum length of 2-pages
This is a mistake that we see almost every day. Most people believe that when it comes to their resume and cover letter presentation, the more pages, and the more content, the better. This is not correct. In fact, in most cases, the more content, the more detriment. When you submit your professional resume, you will be competing against hundreds of other job applicants, especially in today’s economic environment. The unfortunate fact is that if your professional resume is more than 2-pages long, it will likely not be read. If you cannot present yourself effectively within 2-pages, then you don’t stand a chance. Instead of a long presentation, we suggest you work on improving your skills as a resume writer.
2. Highlight your recent experience first
It seems simple, but you may be surprised at how many get this order mixed-up. Place your most recent experience first, and then work your way backwards from there. You want to hit the hiring manager with the most important information right away. What are you waiting for?
3. Focus only on what is relevant
Further to the point above, not only should you place your most recent experience at the top of your resume, but your recent experience must become the main focus, for this is the experience that is most relevant to the job at hand. Your professional career is a gradual progression within which you are always seeking to move forward, not backwards. So, it makes sense that your current role should offer the best explanation as to why you are an excellent candidate for the opportunity at hand. Hiring manager’s do not care about experience from 10-years ago, or experience that is unrelated. Your professional resume is not your opportunity to detail your life story. Again, you must focus only on recent and relevant professional experience. If you do not possess a great amount of such experience, this is where your skills as a writer must shine through. Look to your education, skills, and whatever experience you do have, and blend everything together in a way that suggests you are a wonderful candidate for the role in question. If you are looking to change industries, what skill set have you developed that can be utilised within your new industry?
4. Introduction and dot points
Each unit within your Professional Experience section should comprise a short introduction, followed by a number of dot points. In a perfect world, the number of dot points should decrease as you work your way through the resume, for your experiences are becoming older, and less relevant. However, this may not always be achievable. Your most recent experience must be presented as the most important, and so will demand the largest number of dot points, say 8, for example. Contrast this with say the 3rd unit, which may only comprise 5 dot points. Again, this structure may not be achievable in certain situations, but the point is to focus on your recent and relevant experience above all else. Additionally, do not add a full stop at the end of a dot point. A dot point is not a sentence to be closed out.
5. The snapshot section
We have just explained that you should resist the urge to delve into professional experience that is old or unrelated. While this remains true, you may want to utilise what we call the snapshot approach, within which you touch on all of your professional experiences, even those from many years ago, without going into great detail on those that are old or irrelevant. At The Resumeologist, we love the snapshot approach. The snapshot section outlines the majority of your professional career, without wasting time and space on lower quality professional experience. It is usually put to the side of the main content.
6. Continuous timeline
People bring forward a wide range of professional experiences. Some take time off, others spend months looking to change industries, and more and more people are opting to add additional qualifications to their repertoire in order to build their profile before looking for suitable employment. You may find yourself in such a group. The frustrating truth is that these ‘breaks’ along your employment timeline are not looked upon favorably by your potential employer. So, rather than avoiding them, or attempting to run away from them, you must do something about them by addressing the issue directly. Firstly, while we would never suggest that you lie (please see tip number 10), we do suggest that you consider a way in which you could make your timeline work. Could it be presented in a more contiguous manner? If not, could you add an explanation as to why it doesn’t flow, rather than simply leaving large time gaps in your history? Most employers are reasonable people. If you are a qualified and skilled candidate, address the potential objection with confidence and transparency.
7. Utilise job links
Which specific job opening are you applying for? Are other company’s offering similar opportunities? Your goal throughout your professional resume and cover letter presentation is to portray yourself as a suitable candidate. What better way to do so than by utilising the lingo and language present within this or related job descriptions? This approach requires skilled writing, but if you can blend your current content into that provided within specific job descriptions, you are well on your way towards presenting yourself as a candidate perfectly suited to the opening.
8. Resume design
Once the content has been written, your next step is to choose a suitable design for your presentation. Different amounts of content lend themselves to different resume template styles. Remember, when it comes to designing your professional resume, less is more. Choose professional colors, and a simple style.
9. Your profile image
In most cases, we feel that a profile image looks unprofessional. Unless you absolutely must, do not include one.
10. Be honest
Honesty is always the right path to choose. Now, this does not mean that you shouldn’t present the very best version of yourself. This is an absolute must. However, do so in a way that is really you. Then, when you land the interview, and eventually the job, you can rest comfortable knowing that you have been hired for who you are, and who you can be when operating at your best.
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