Your resume’s main aim is to win an interview. If you’ve sent out hundreds with no result, you’re doing something wrong. A focused, well-written and appropriately presented resume will get you an interview. Take these steps to create a winning resume.
Focus on your objective
Aim to get an interview, not win a job outright. Many resumes supply too much information in the hope that at least something will score. They lose focus and the reader becomes overwhelmed. As a result, it’s easier for them to delete the application than continue struggling with it.
Plan your style
Efficient resumes win, every time. Great design creates a great first impression, helping your words score. To that end, a layout is key in putting a reader’s attention where you want it.
- Scannability – use short paragraphs for introduction and context. Use one-line bullets to make vital points tying into the job specification.
- White space – less is always more. Well, structured titles grab attention, bold first words draw attention deeper, short sentences deliver the payload fast.
- POV – You’re selling yourself, so write in the first person.
A tried and tested template can nail both design and layout, leaving you free to put effort into what makes the most difference to your prospects – you and your words.
Choose your type of resume
- Chronological resumes are commonly used by people near the start of their career. A current role is listed first, then previous roles going backward in time.
- Functional resumes are used to focus on specific skills and experience, most often for technical roles.
- Targeted resumes are heavily tailored towards a specific role advertised.
- Combination resumes emphasize skills and competencies over work history. They’re great for speculative approaches.
Many people have a career which includes a strange-looking side shoot or broken path along the way when listed chronologically. Choosing an alternative resume type helps get passed this.
Write your content
Core resume sections include: name and brief contact details; a personal profile; your current role; previous roles; qualifications and training. Only include other interests if they add value. Leave references off. To maximize your chance of an interview, follow this process:
- To start, tick all main requirements in the ad. If you can’t do that, why are you applying?
- To establish credibility, use your profile section to say: what you are; what job you want and why you’re a great choice. If the job ad calls for a retail manager, presenting yourself as an engineer with ambitions to meet the general public will not win you that interview invitation.
- To get beyond the software-bots, include relevant keywords. If the ad says this will be a ‘client-facing’ role, include those very words.
- To get through the first cut, make your resume easily scannable by a human reader. If you quickly tick every box for them, they’ll read deeper.
- To get firmly on the ‘yes’ pile, remember that responsibilities only show context and relevance, achievements mark you out.
- To win that all-important invitation, show that you’re someone who made things happen. You didn’t just wait for orders, you came up with ideas, you proactively implemented them and you creatively solved problems along the way. Is that you? It is now.
Recruiters often have to read dozens of resumes a day. These are their main ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ comments.
- “Ironically, your resume is not about you, make it about what you can do for them.”
- “Use a standard and readable font, especially if you’re uploading a doc file, rather than a PDF.”
- “Use 2 pages maximum, except for scientific or technical roles.”
- “Where do you bring something extra, some added value, over and above the other likely candidates? If you can answer that, you’re well on the way.”
- “Say the absolute least you possibly can. If the reader wants more depth, they can invite you to an interview.”
- “Show a compelling story of your career journey to date. If this role is obviously a perfect next step for you, that will shine through.”
- “Avoid spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors at all costs. Always proofread your resume. Preferably, get a competent friend or colleague to check it for you.”