15 must do’s to write a killer resume

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Is it time to switch or start a career? With potential targets mapped out, prep your professional arsenal. This means a killer CV, a spotless online brand (Google yourself if you think you have nothing to hide) and a way with cover letters. Likewise, you’ll need to smarten up your social media brand, establishing an up-to-date professional presence and deleting any YouTube relics left over from your second year housewarming party. Employers really do check your background.  It is therefore recommended to invest time in building an active profile on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

A huge variety of companies, government agencies, NGOs, etc, need people with your skill set and interests; thus, any “list” of possibilities will be incomplete.   Think broadly!  But, to get you started, here are some ideas.  Take time to explore.

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes. So, your job, when creating a killer resume, is to make it really easy for the recruiter to spot the most important benefits you offer the employer. Do the work, so they don’t have to. Here’s how:

 

1. Make sure your resume is tailored to the job you are applying for

General resumes may be quick to submit, but far less effective. Better one excellent job application than three shoddy ones.Researching the cultural norms of the organization is worthwhile. For example, within one industry some will value experience but not care much about education, while others care about your qualifications.

2. Only apply if you meet the job criteria

Don’t waste your time or the recruiter’s applying for jobs if you don’t meet their criteria. If you still want that job, go and expand your skill set before trying again in future.

3. Don’t lie

Even if you get through the first screening, lying about or exaggerating your accomplishments is likely to come back to bite you. Recovering from the loss of trust is hard.

4. Add keywords

After writing the resume, check it for keywords from the job description. Keywords are gifts to you from the employer. Add them into the existing text so they flow naturally. This will help your resume get past screening software, and recruiters who are accustomed to searching quickly for these keywords.

5. Structure your resume carefully

It is easiest for the recruiter if your key skills and background are summarised at the top. Make sure your current and most recent previous role are on the first page. Your education and qualifications are generally less important than your professional experience, so put these later.

6. Show how your most recent two jobs are relevant

Recruiters will spend 80% of their time on your name, the company, job title, start and end dates for your current and previous companies, and finally your education. If you are changing direction in your career, you will need to work even harder to draw out the skills and networks you are bringing from these last two jobs.

7. Keep it short and sweet

Remember the recruiter will scan your resume in seconds. Including your school paper round or even lengthy details of your first job out of college is not something a recruiter will thank you for (unless, of course, you are applying for your second job out of college).

8. Use CAR as a guide

CAR stands for Context, Action, Results. Use them as a mental checklist. Keep the context short: just long enough for the recruiter to know what your job was. Spend longest what you actually achieved as a result of the actions that you took.

9. Provide proof

Qualify your results wherever possible. Beating your targets, raising finance, cutting costs, making great sales all provide convincing and easily digested data which demonstrate your achievements. Social proof such as promotions and customer feedback are also worthwhile.

10. Include links to other sites and social media

Keep your resume short while demonstrating your talents by providing links to articles, photos, or websites you’ve designed, or a portfolio. Also, provide the url for your LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed it those reflect your professional abilities. Clearly, you want to avoid a Facebook page with photos of your drunken exploits. Better still, don’t post these on social media in the first place.

11. Make it easy for the recruiter to contact you

Include contact details with your email and one phone number (don’t make the recruiter have to guess which number to use). Don’t bother with your home address.

12. Format for clarity

Make sure your formatting goes hand in hand with the resume structure to ensure recruiters can spot the key information easily. Create clear sections with easy-to-read, consistent headlines. Use an attractive font, which is also easy to read. Don’t use Word templates. If your design skills are truly terrible get someone else to do the formatting for you.

13. Stick to a familiar format

In this case, boring is good. Unless you are specifically applying for a graphic design or creative role and want to demonstrate your talent, avoid unusual formats. Remember, the recruiter doesn’t want to be distracted as they scan the page. Cut anything that seems clever but reduces clarity, including pictures. If you do use something different, make sure it is effective and suits the employer’s own style before you submit it.

14. Submit your resume in pdf format

Unless you are asked otherwise, send your résumé as a pdf. This will ensure your formatting remains consistent on any device.

15. Spell-check and grammar-check

Obvious, perhaps, but surprisingly often spelling and grammar mistakes are what leads to a resume being put in the reject pile. Use the past tense and third person, not first person consistently throughout your resume. Don’t rely on your computer’s spelling and grammar checkers. They are often wrong. Edit it yourself and then get another person to read your resume with fresh eyes.

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