Writing a resume is generally something we cringe at. It’s not an especially fun task and can require a lot of hard thinking about dates, duties, achievements, and referees.
A resume, however, shouldn’t be glossed over or hastily thrown together. This simple document is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, without which you wouldn’t even be seen. It is your foot in the door, giving you the chance to kick that door wide open.
You could have the most incredible skills, but without a carefully crafted resume, these skills could be misunderstood or completely missed.
Below are some important resume writing tips that will get you well on your way to nabbing that job you want:
Understand the Industry
Whilst a generic resume is always fine, it’s recommended to go that extra mile and take time to create a resume specific to the industry that you are applying to – plenty of people have more than one resume!
Each industry has different focus points that you need to understand, acknowledge, and address. Industries like mining and construction are heavily focussed on workplace health and safety, so be sure to mention your proven commitment to workplace health and safety. Food services will have a strong focus on things like food hygiene, retail will have a strong focus on customer service, and so on.
Think about what skills you have and how they can be applied in that industry. Just because you haven’t had experience in that industry or job before, doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer. You just need to change the perspective.
Is That Information Critical?
As much as potential employers are not supposed to make selections based on certain biases, they still do. It’s best to minimise those opportunities in your resume.
Adding things like marital status, date of birth or age, gender, nationality, or heritage are not a critical part of a resume nor your ability to do a good job.
Historical aspects of your professional life can also become unnecessary. For instance, once you achieve other educational or professional milestones, your high school graduation isn’t necessary on your resume. The babysitting you did during high school may have helped you get jobs early on, but after you’ve built up other experiences, that babysitting is often no longer relevant.
That said, if you’re unsure about removing things – don’t. A compromise could be to create a dot point list of experience prior to a certain date. That way they can see how you spent that time, ask you about them in the interview, but are spared information they don’t need.
The Right Font and Style
The look of your resume is incredibly important and over-styling can work against you. To put it bluntly – you want don’t want your resume to irritate or inconvenience the reader.
Keep it simple and easy to read.
Fonts should be clean and clear, so Sans Serif fonts are the ideal choice – clear print with no flourishes. Recommended fonts are Calibri, Arial, and Century Gothic. Use around a Font size 12, depending on the font, to ensure it’s easy to read but still compact.
Try to avoid big areas of white space in your resume – if formatting such as page breaks leaves a gap, adjust the margins, general layout, or paragraph spacing to reduce this.
Colour is great in moderation. Use colour to catch the eye but not distract it. Things like the addition of a small colourful design in the header or footer and coloured headings should be enough so long as the colour is easy to read and the designs don’t obscure any information.
Photos are a personal choice but generally not necessary unless the industry or company is a creative one. Keep in mind that judgements CAN be made that affect how your resume is assessed, whether they should be or not – how necessary is that photo?
Put That Crucial Information Front and Centre
Saving a potential employer time and eye strain makes them happy.
You need to assume that the front page of your resume is as far as they will read or that they will simply skim the pages. Your front page is your sales pitch. Why do they need to hire you? What do you have to offer them? What do you want?
There are a variety of ways that people convey this information, including career bios and objectives sections. If you are using a career bio, you will need to really hook and hold their attention with it and know how to talk about yourself in a confident, unforgettable, and concise way.
A simpler option is a skills and attributes summary. This simply creates a list of the most marketable skills drawn from the details within your resume. It gives the potential employer a quick hit of all the crucial information that will assist them to make their decision without sifting through pages.
Think Hard About What Was Important in Each Job
The Work Experience section of your resume should have the following details for each role:
- Dates of employment (years only as a worst-case scenario);
- Employer / Company name;
- Your job title;
- A dot point list of duties
The duties you list are those that are most marketable, particularly in an industry-specific resume. You did the job, so you know what was essential to get your job done – those are the important parts.
Don’t Underestimate Your Achievements!
Achievements don’t have to be awards and certificates of recognition and you don’t need to have changed the world.
Point out things that you did that were above and beyond your position description. Perhaps you were an admin who created the training manual for a new procedure brought into a company. Perhaps you are a mechanic who became the ‘carburettor wizard’ in your workplace.
Let them know how you excel! What are YOU proud about? Pop that on your front page.
No Work Experience? Don’t panic!
Just because you haven’t had a job before, doesn’t mean you haven’t got some skills. Instead, include these things in your resume:
- Aside from standard high school subjects, what other certificates and subjects have you completed?
- Work experience – in Australia, this is a standard part of senior schooling. Add dot points about what you did and the skills you gained from the experience
- Achievements and awards – these sorts of things show a commitment to your education and professional development.
- Volunteer work – did you do relay for life? Volunteer for rural fire services or SES? School car wash fundraiser? All relevant – they show you participate and care!
- Hobbies & Interests – be careful with this. If it’s all gaming and tv, it might be off-putting. There needs to be some diversity and a sense of curiosity.
Want More Help?
Want to have a go but not quite sure where to start? Here is a FREE resume template just for you – a strong template on its own … or will it be the start of something EPIC?
Pocket Admin completely understands if you don’t have time, need some help, or just plain hate writing resumes! That’s why we are here to help!