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Writing A Killer Resume – Six Dos and Don’ts

Your resume is your first – and sometimes only – point of contact with a potential employer before an interview. Make sure it’s all it can be with these simple dos and don’ts that make yours more readable, approachable and persuasive.

Do:

Use a unique resume for each job

A programmer at Microsoft and a cook at McDonald’s don’t have the same resume, so why would you send identical documents to wildly different employers? Do your research and discover what attributes the company is looking for in a potential hire, and tailor your resume to those. Keeping facts relevant to these attributes at the top of your resume means even the most casual skim will pick them up.

Keep it short and to the point

Regardless of how talented and interesting you are, there are going to be parts of your life that simply are not relevant to the job you’re applying for. Whether you’re a level 8 violinist or a semi-elite athlete, these facts are likely not to convince the manager of a coffee shop that you’re the right person for the job. If you can fit your resume on one page without omitting crucial information, consider doing so. This means the hiring manager doesn’t have to wade through a sea of useless information to get to the most important points.

Make sure your contact details are present, correct and appropriate

It may have been cool to have an email like JohnnyIsRad94@hotmail.com back when you were in high school, but it definitely doesn’t look cool to potential employers. If you have the option, take an email address including your full name. Include contact details such as phone number and – if you have one – a website, and double-check that each and every number and character is correct. More than a few hiring managers have given up on promising applicants because they were calling the wrong number. If you’re looking for a new job before leaving prior employment, make sure none of your details are connected to that employer.

Put key information in bullet points

The hiring manager at the company you’re applying for may have hundreds of resumes to crunch through; they don’t need to be wading through lengthy purple prose. Get your point across quickly with short bullet lists. These are perfect for explaining responsibilities at previous jobs, listing accolades and awards, and outlining previous experience.

Proofread your own work

Far too many job applicants have been undone by a joking sibling or roommate adding a few choice sentences to their resume. Even if you’re not being actively sabotaged, you can undo yourself with a lack of attention to detail. Make sure you’re not missing anything out or adding something that will get you in trouble. Reading your work back aloud will help you notice where you’ve made a mistake. Similarly, make sure if you’re applying via email that you’re attaching the right file. You don’t want to be mixing up your grandma’s brownie recipe and your carefully crafted resume.

Take a look at similar resumes

Finding resumes from leading figures in your industry and other people at a similar stage in their career can give you ideas about what skills need highlighting as well as different ways you can stand out.

Don’t:

Lie

Even if you aren’t caught out in the interview, you’re likely to be caught out later on when you’re asked to do the task you lied about. This can lose you credibility and even the job.

Put family members as references

Prospective employees are very good at telling when referees aren’t who they say they are. Unless you’re a teenager applying for their first job or got your start in the family business, it might be best to leave mum and dad off the resume. Furthermore, make sure that all contact details for referees are correct and that all referees have been informed that they might receive a call.

Leave grammar or spelling mistakes

This goes hand-in-hand with proofing your resume before hitting ‘Send’. If your grammar isn’t top-notch, maybe rely on a trusted friend to give it a once-over. Studies show that resumes with good grammar assert credibility, and conversely poor spelling and grammar gives the impression of sloppiness or low intelligence. This may mean finally learning the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, and ‘to’ and ‘too’.

Use wacky or non-standard fonts or images

Comic Sans and Papyrus both make for a resume that stands out, but at the same time they look childish and unprofessional. Unless you’re applying for a role as a designer when some flare on the resume could help the hiring manager make a decision, it’s best to stick with a basic, no-nonsense typeface such as Calibri or Cambria. The same goes for images. It can be best to leave clip art or photographic embellishments off the page as they can take the focus away from your skills.

Leave out key information

Gaps in resumes will always look suspicious. If you worked as an assistant manager at your mother’s market stall at the age of fifteen, it’s best to either include any and all information about the role or to leave it out entirely. Leaving off dates or business information can sometimes be worse than not mentioning the experience at all.

Include your age or photograph

Unless it has been specifically requested, a photograph is not an essential part of a resume. The same goes for your age. Including this information just gives your employer one more thing to judge you on before they even call you. If in doubt, leave it out.

The best thing you can do with a resume is get it out there. Every application you make is one step closer to you getting a job.

 

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