If you’re here, you’re probably planning to pursue your dream job, wanting to switch careers, or you just graduated and wanted to know how to get the Career that you are dreaming of.
The first step is creating a resume that would help you seize exciting job opportunities. What you need is a winning resume, one that guarantees you interviews and better offers.
A resume is a short and concise document that contains an overview of an applicant’s work experience and educational background. Recruiters use the information on resumes to identify the right candidates to call in for an interview. In some countries like Australia and New Zealand, it is synonymous with Curriculum Vitae (CV).
Recruiters and employers browse plenty of resumes to identify the right candidates. To help you stand out, here are some tips for developing a winning resume:
Tip 1: A winning resume follows a structure.
There is a known standard pattern when creating a resume. Interviewers, recruiters, and employers will expect this from a resume. A proper resume is expected to have the following:
- Contact information
- Job title
- Career Objective or Summary
- Career highlight Section
- Work experience
- Educational background
Fresh graduates with no work experience can place their educational background and academic achievements right after the career objective or summary. You can also include the following:
- Core competencies
- Awards received
- Programs or workshops attended
- Licenses and certification
- Character references
- Relevant experience such as volunteer work
Make headers identifiable using a slighter larger font, bolding the letters, or using UPPERCASE.
When structuring the content of your resume, you must also consider the employer’s location. In some countries in Asia, resumes that contain an applicant’s photos tend to get noticed more. Recruiters and interviewers prefer resumes with the applicant’s photo attached so they can identify applicants easier. However, in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the USA, adding a photo is not very common. In fact, applicants are discouraged to do so.
There are many available templates you can use to make sure that your resume is well structured. Free versions are available in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and many other resources. If you want to take it up a notch, Zety’s resume builder is a great tool to use to produce a professional resume.
Tip 2: A winning resume has compelling content.
Keep in mind that when writing your resume, the goal is to persuade the reader to schedule you for an interview and ultimately, hire you for the job. The content of your resume should contain a compelling reason for you to be hired. Take your time and focus on these key areas:
A. Create a powerful summary
Your career objective or summary needs to stand out. Think of it as a movie trailer. Your summary should provide a sneak peek of what you can contribute for the company to help it succeed. It should include your credentials, highlight problems that you have solved, and a recap of your core skills.
Your career objective should not focus on you. Instead, it should focus on what you can do for the company.
Here’s a bad example:
Seeking a role where I can apply and improve my skills in Events Management that would lead to more opportunities and growth within your organisation.
Here’s a good example:
I am a seasoned IT PMP with qualifications in Program Management and Cyber Security, with 6+ years of professional experience in growing revenue for a software company. I am keen to leverage my expertise in management and leadership as a project manager for (company name). I have implemented compliance projects and facilitated employee training that reduced operating costs by over 30% and saved the company over $500,000 a year.
B. Highlight your core competencies
The core competencies section is optional, but it is a great way to get your resume noticed, especially if you have zero work experience. Add core competencies that are relevant to the role you are applying for. You can match them to the job description and tailor this section based on the industry or field of work.
For instance, if you apply for a Project Management role, you can add competencies such as leadership, management, scheduling, negotiation, risk assessment, and critical thinking.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used by big organisations to make it easier for them to identify candidates that are a good fit. The usage of relevant keywords that would match the company values, mission, and job description can potentially lead to your resume getting picked for the recruiter to review.
C. Showcase your career achievements
If you are a seasoned professional, you can skip the core competencies section and add a career highlights section instead. This section will highlight your core competencies and also show the positive results from your previous roles. You can present this section in a bullet format.
Quantify your accomplishments. If you do not have the exact numbers, you can use an estimate.
Here’s an example from a real estate development manager:
- Spearheading the $1.8M conversion of defunct department store into a 150-unit luxury condo complex
- Structuring the $1.2M acquisition of an old assembly building for conversion into a recreation center and park
- Leading the $3.2M rehabilitation of institution buildings into a resort complex
D. Use strong verbs in your work experience details
The work experience section will include details of your previous roles. Indicate the company you’ve worked for, the duration, and the job description. Use the timeline structure, adding your most recent job at the top. For each job, you must add a job description in paragraph format.
Develop results-driven achievement statements in your job description. Use strong action verbs, include the tasks completed, and the results of the task.
Here’s an example:
Vice President (June 2011 to present)
ABC Construction Company
- Led the Real Estate development team in successfully delivering 12 environmentally sustainable projects, worth $5M in assets and comprising 6.2 million square feet.
- Co-headed projects with engineers for manufacturing facilities, traveled to client sites, devised solutions, and ensured compliance with all governing regulatory standards.
E. The Education Section
Education is a key requirement for almost every job in every industry. Employers look for Certifications, Diplomas, and Degrees that you have completed that are relevant to the role. You absolutely need to list your educational background in your resume.
Start with your highest and most recent degree then add all other degrees in reverse-chronological order. You can add your high school information if you are currently studying in college. If you have finished college, you won’t need to add your high school information.
Add the name and location of your school and the year you graduated or the expected date of graduation if you’re still studying.
Qualifications obtained from countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Australia are globally recognised due to the high-level standards in their education systems. If you have one, flaunt them in your resume.
You can also include your GPA if you are a recent graduate. Academic honors, extracurricular achievements, study abroad programs, and accolades can also be added.
Here’s an example:
2021 Masters of Project Management
Southern Cross University, Sydney, AU
2019 Advanced Diploma in Program Management
Pacific Training Group, Sydney, AU
2018 Diploma in Project Management
Pacific Training Group, Sydney, AU
F. Include your hard and soft skills
Most employers are now looking for candidates who have the soft skills and technical skills needed for the role. You can list job-specific skills that will help you get hired.
Here are the top hard skills in 2020:
- Cloud Computing
- Analytical reasoning
- Artificial Intelligence
- UX Design
- Business Analysis
- Affiliate Marketing
- Scientific Computing
- Video Production
Most companies would require some technical skills so they won’t have to train you on the usage of these technological tools. It is now expected for most applicants to have the useful skills to a remote work environment. Add them to your list of skills when relevant.
Here are some examples of technical skills:
- Zoom Client Meetings (Online meeting applications)
- MS Software Applications (Word, Excel, PPT, etc.)
- Coding and Programming
- Social Media Management
- Data Analytics
- Technical Support / Troubleshooting
- Project Management Software
- Information Security or Network
- Security Cloud/SaaS
- Services Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Soft skills are as important as hard skills in the workforce. Remember to add them when relevant. These are attributes and personality traits that impact your interpersonal interactions and overall productivity.
Here are some of the most sought-after soft skills among applicants in 2021:
- Creativity (Creative problem solving and innovation)
- Emotional Intelligence
- Communication Skills
- Time Management
- Leadership and Management
These skills, when paired with solid credentials, can make you a much more attractive candidate and will make you shine.
It is essential to make your resume readable for ATS and real people. Big companies use an ATS to help them quickly identify candidates that don’t meet specific criteria. A person may not get to see your resume if it doesn’t pass the ATS requirements.
Here are some pointers to keep your resume readable and attractive for both the human reader and the ATS.
For your human reader:
- Use clear concise headings
- Use font types that are classic, readable, and not over-the-top (Verdana and Cambria are the safest, don’t use Times New Roman)
- Use font sizes between 10-12 in your content
- Use simple sentences and bullet points
- Use .5 to 1-inch margins
- Send in PDF format unless the employer asks for the word file
- Avoid typos and misspelled words
For an ATS optimised resume:
- Avoid usage of graphics, charts, tables, and text boxes
- Avoid typos and misspelled words
- Send in word format
- Use clear hierarchy through clear headings
- Include keywords relevant to the job posting
Many professionals have a hard time scoring their dream job or even getting scheduled for an interview because they fail to create a winning resume. Use the tips here to get you started.
If you don’t present yourself well in your resume, your application can be rejected before anyone gets to know you in person. The goal when creating the resume is to make you look like the best person for the job. Be creative, do your research, and study the job posting to get the message across.
If you’ve done part-time work, contract gigs, or taken an online course in between employment to keep your skills up, do not be ashamed to include this on your resume. These things show your employer that you are committed to what you do and are adaptable to any unexpected circumstances. With so many companies hiring for remote positions nowadays, this can help you stand out.
Many factors impact your chances of getting hired. A good resume doesn’t go far without a winning cover letter, a winning portfolio, and winning interview preparation. But those are for another discussion.
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