A professional resume is the first step toward a successful career in any dream position. It is the only way to achieve a callback or an interview from the employer, hence deserves a lot of attention from all prospective jobseekers. In this article, a number of topics are discussed to help a jobseeker write a professional resume that will increase the chances of landing an interview. These topics include;
- The components of an outstanding resume
- Important tips for writing an outstanding resume
- How to start writing an outstanding resume
- Importance of the correct resume format
- The correct length of a resume
- Things that should not be included in a resume
- Usage of resume templates
- The importance of a good cover letter
The knowledge of writing an outstanding resume has become indispensable in the contemporary competitive job market. The ability to write an outstanding resume is something that each prospective job seeker should desire.
Statistics show that for most job adverts, the number of applications that the employers receive far exceeds the employers’ expectation. Given the huge workload, employers hardly take more than 6 to 7 seconds on each resume to decide whether or not an applicant is the right fit for the job.
Within that short duration, the employer assesses the resume quality as the first factor for eliminating candidates. The resume quality is therefore very important if one wants to be selected for the interviews. A resume that is both professional and eye catching has greater chances of landing a great job.
1. What makes an outstanding resume?
Resumes are different in so many ways. There is no conventional way of crafting a professional and eye-catching resume. However, all great resumes share the following four qualities.
Lying on one’s abilities, experience and background can attract the attention of the employer but is a very risky business. During an interview, the employer would most likely detect the lie and bar the applicant from all future job opportunities in the company. It is pointless to lie on the resume. Be honest.
For every job posting, the applicant should tailor the resume based on the job description. Each job description has different keywords. It is imperative that the keywords appear in the resume particularly when explaining one’s work experience.
Keeping the resume focused, concise and clear significantly boosts the chances of being called for an interview. A clear resume only highlights the most critical details thereby making it easier for the employer to identify the relevant information within the short duration s/he looks at the resume. It is unnecessary to include excessive details in the resume.
A good resume should include the applicant’s online presence in platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. With such information, the employer has a greater understanding of the jobseeker. However, the jobseeker must ensure that postings on LinkedIn and Facebook are appropriate and do not portray him/her in a bad light.
2. Important tips for writing an outstanding resume
Generally speaking, no single resume guarantees an interview or a callback. Nonetheless, the following six tips can help a jobseeker compose an outstanding resume.
- Double-check to ensure all essential information is mentioned.
Although different resumes have different content, there are some information that should not be left out, namely;
- Applicant’s contact details
- The summary statement
- Educational qualifications
- Employment history
- Skills and abilities relevant to the job
- Proofread thoroughly
To write an outstanding resume, it is imperative to proofread at least twice. Silly mistakes makes the jobseeker appear careless in the eye of the employer. Having a trusted peer with impeccable grammar check the resume is one way of ascertaining that there are no mistakes.
- Start with critical resume section
Impressive information ought to be placed at the top of the resume. Including relevant information first can catch the attention of the employer and reduce the chances of getting eliminated.
- Organize the resume chronologically
The reverse chronological order is mostly used when writing a resume. However, this does not apply when skills have to be emphasized due to absence of significant work history.
- Quantify achievements
Quantifying achievements at work using numbers and percentages increases the clarity and specificity of the resume. Using arbitrary terms to describe achievement does not bring out the essence of that achievement. For instance, “decreased employee turnover rate significantly” is not as effective as “deceased turnover rate by 25 percent in 6 months.”
- Ensure verbs are strong throughout the resume
The use of fresh language and strong verbs adds value to the resume. Using a term such as “spearheaded” in the place of “developed” in the context of a business strategy brings out a more favorable meaning.
3. How to start writing an outstanding resume
Most people will confirm that it is not easy to write an effective resume. One option of doing so is to use a resume builder but for those who prefer the option of writing the resume themselves, the best way to start is to create an inventory of work experience and personal background.
This entails documenting degrees/certifications and their affiliated institutions as well as companies worked for, job titles, and duties. The following questions can help a candidate from getting stuck when writing a resume for the first time.
- Have you been a supervisor and what has been your experience? Have you led any projects?
- Have managers and/or customers given you positive feedback?
- What accomplishments did you make in college? Are there clubs or organizations you joined that added value to you in the context of the job you are seeking?
- How would your former internship supervisors or employers describe your performance and work ethic?
4. Importance of choosing the correct resume format
The resume is normally representative of the job applicant and as such, communicates the applicant’s personality. The format is one of the aspects that employers use to decide whether to make a callback or eliminate the candidate.
The resume, being representative of the applicant, creates the first impression of the employer toward the jobseeker. If the resume is awkwardly formatted and disorganized, the applicant has lesser chances of being selected. It is imperative to do it correctly the first time, as there are no do-overs.
One way of circumventing this problem is the use of resume templates. The template gives the applicant a preview of the resume as it unfolds.
5. The correct length of a resume
Traditionally, most jobseekers fit their education and work history in a single A4 page. However, this is not a convention regarding the length of a resume.
The resume may go well beyond a single page if;
- The jobseeker wants to express extensive experience in a field of interest to the employer; or
- The job seeker is a graduate hence need to describe in details his or her research to the employer.
However, the resume should not overflow to the third page. If the two criteria above do not apply, it is recommendable to limit the resume to a single page or alternatively go for the student resume.
6. Things that should not be included in a resume
Variations in resume formats are common due to differences in the jobs being applied for as well as the experience and background of the jobseekers.
Although such variations are allowed, certain elements are not allowed unless requested explicitly by the employer. These include;
- Applicant’s photograph
- Race, sexual orientation, marital status and birth date.
- Salary requirements
- Controversial organizations
- Organizations that may not provide excellent recommendations
7. Usage of resume templates
Resume writing is a difficult endeavor in which many jobseekers struggle. Nonetheless, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. The process of writing a resume has been simplified by resume builders. These are templates that provide the relevant resume fields so that the jobseeker’s only worry is the quality of the content.
Professional resume templates allow jobseekers to impress employers with the layout that best complement their experience, background and skills. Using the right template increases the chances that the resume will catch the attention of the employer.
8. The Cover Letter
The resume is normally accompanied by a cover letter. The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce the jobseeker to the potential employer.
A good cover letter complements the resume in convincing the employer to make a callback or an interview. It communicates in greater details the jobseeker’s experience and background so that the potential employer can understand the candidate in a much better way.
Experts recommend that each professional resume should be accompanied by a well-written cover letter. This is especially important for first time job applicants as it may supplement a thin resume.
The process of seeking a job, from writing a resume to receiving a job offer, can be tiresome and frustrating. Learning how to build high quality resume and cover letter goes a long way in reducing the duration and stress of job hunt.