Here’s our tips on how to write a resume to ensure each part of your CV is professional and effective when you’re applying for your next dream job.
Your resume is a potential employer’s first impression of you. But did you know that hiring managers spend an average of six seconds looking at it? That means you have a finite amount of time to showcase the experience and knowledge you can offer their business. Your resume might be one out of hundreds that will cross the desk of a manager or recruiter for an available role.
1. Keep the layout clean
While there’s no winning resume template, keep your formatting neat and easy to read to make yours stand out. Include headers between different sections, like ‘Work Experience’ or ‘Education’, so the reader can quickly jump to a particular part. Use bullet points to break up large amounts of text and make it easy to scan. Stick to a single, professional font like Arial or Calibri (skip the Comic Sans).
2. Don’t forget your contact details
It might seem obvious, but many people fail to include a way to be contacted. Your full name, current residential address, contact phone number, email address and link to your LinkedIn profile should be at the top of your CV. Be sure you’re using a personal email address that’s appropriate to share with potential employers (is email@example.com really the first impression you want to give?).
3. Add relevant career objectives
When it comes to how to write your CV, this is one of the most important sections. It enables an employer to understand your background, experience and motivations for the role. It’s also where you can explain any inconsistencies in your resume, like if you’ve taken a career break or changed industries. Keep it short and relevant. Don’t throw in your hobbies or personal attributes here.
4. Mention achievements in your employment experience
Your potential employer will spend most of their time reading this section. It should offer an insight into how your previous professional experiences make you a suitable candidate, and include software programs and keywords relevant to your industry. Structure it in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role. For each job, list the company, your position, the period of employment and what you did while there – not only your responsibilities, but how you made your mark. Are there any stand-out achievements you can showcase, or tangible benefits your skills provided the business? For instance, “During my time with ABC Company, I was able to increase sales by 15 percent in just four months”.
5. Summarise your educational background & professional memberships
Keep this section short and sweet. Summarise your most recent qualifications, and work in reverse chronological order back to university, or high school if you’re still early in your career. Highlight specific achievements with bullet points and any relevant extracurricular activities. If you’re a member of any professional groups relevant to your industry, include them here.
6. Get the right referees
Providing the right referees is crucial. Include at least two work-related referees, preferably from different companies. Ideally, these referees will have worked with you in a role more senior than your own. While not essential to list their full details on your CV, it does speed up the process and instill confidence in the reader. Don’t forget to ask your referees for permission before adding them to your list.
7. Include any portfolios
If you work in a field where samples of your work are recommended, send your portfolio through along with, but separate to, your resume.
Bonus tip: take an extra five minutes to proofread your resume so you’re not sending out a resume with ‘attention to detail’ listed as a skill, but have it riddled with typos.
When you’ve written your resume and it looks clean and includes all the relevant information, start applying for jobs or send it to your recruiter.