Resumes will often be the first thing that will tell an employer about who you are and what experience you have. Your resume will also be the determining factor as to whether or not you are able to land a face to face interview. After many years in the employment and recruitment sector this is my advice on how you should go about putting together a resume that will increase your chances of getting that next job:
#1 Start by keeping the resume to a maximum of three pages
It is hard to comprehend, particularly for older workers, that you can compact your work experience into three pages but it can be done. By starting off with this in mind you begin to compact your work experience into something more specific and meaningful for the role you are applying for. Many people make the mistake of sending the same resume to a hundred different jobs and wonder why they are being rejected – each resume needs to be tailored to the job you are applying for and therefore some of your work experience may not be relevant and therefore there is no need to go into great detail. The other reality is that recruiters can sometimes get hundreds of resumes for a single job and the last thing they want to do is read war and peace. Try and keep the resume to three pages.
#2 Always have an opening narrative or letter
For impact it’s important that the first thing a recruiter or employer reads is who you are condensed into a few paragraphs. This will set the scene for who you are and what they can expect to read in your resume. The opening narrative or letter should be a mix of who you are, your background and experience and why you believe you are the best candidate for this specific job. Always make sure you add the last part otherwise you will miss an opportunity. I tell people to follow my general rule of coming up with three things about you that the employer needs to know and three reasons why they should employ you.
#3 Make sure these basic elements are included
Employment history, breakdown of employment history and therefore experience, qualifications (for the job). Wherever possible don’t add things that have become irrelevant or expand on things that are not relevant to the actual job. Always try and keep the resume relevant to the job so expand on the things that meet the requirements of the job role and try and not add things that don’t have at least a loose connection. Also, unless you are a first time job seeker, only add qualifications that are relevant and recent. This might sound crazy but if you are applying for a job as a shelf stacker then you don’t want to add you have PH. D in political science because it could leave the employer thinking “why the heck are they applying for this job” or even worst they may question if you do in fact have a PH.D. Try and make sure you following the order I suggested above.
#4 Always add a photo
Now, this may freak some people out but I always suggest adding a photo because it forms a personal connection between the applicant and the potential employer. There are, however, some general rules you should follow. Firstly, the do not’s: Never attach a photo of you smoking, partying or with alcohol in your hand. You may very well be a social butterfly but it may not be what the employer wants. Try and make sure the photo resembles your experience and I always suggest formatting them into greyscale.
#5 Tell the truth
The worst thing you can do on a resume is lie because you feel the need to in order to get the job. The reality is that lies always come unstuck so make sure you tell the truth and be honest about you are and your experience. If you are a first time job seeker, then focus in on all the reasons why you would make a good and loyal employee even though your work experience may be light.
That’s it really; the five core elements of what can make a successful and engaging resume. At the end of the day you want to make sure the resume stands out from everyone else because that will get your foot in the door. Follow those five basic elements and you will have a good chance of securing that next role. Good luck!
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