Resumes are THE key to getting your foot in the door at any organisation. As a Career Consultant, many of my clients have been asking for support on redefining and reshaping their resume. To do this, I always start with the basics; resume structure. A typical resume should include the following headings:
A Personal Profile
Usually two-three sentences or four-five bullet points at the beginning of your resume covering off how and why you are unique. It’s your chance to make a significant first impression and hook your reader.
As resumes can be a maximum of two pages (absolutely no more than that), your contact details should be clearly and easily found on each page. It should include your full name, LinkedIn profile, telephone number(s), links to portfolios or your website and your email.
I prefer the heading ‘Professional’ as it enables you to list both paid and unpaid work under this heading. Sometimes using the title ‘work experience’ implies that the positions listed were all paid work. When it comes to formatting, I usually suggest the following format as it’s easily read and enables the reader to see your career timeline/story.
Position Title Month Year – Month Year
Company/Organization | City, Country
International and/or Volunteer Experience
Globalisation is calling on our ability as a candidate to showcase the work we’ve done regionally, nationally, and if possible, internationally. I always suggest clients showcase their experience internationally and ‘how they give back’ in a separate section. You can tell a lot by a person by what they give their free time to. Employers like to get a holistic picture of candidates applying for positions. This section should be formatted the same as your ‘Professional Experience’ section
I’d keep this simple, short and sweet. In this section list formal education obtained (e.g. degree name, dates and location). Remember, your education is typically one checkmark on the hiring list of qualifications.
Tech skills are crucial to succeed in workplaces today. I strongly suggest you categorise your tech skills into subcategories (e.g. marketing, CSM, design, analytical tools etc.). These subcategories will vary by field/experience, but it helps to identify and breakdown your skillset more easily for the reader.
I personally like to list my certifications separately from my Education section. To me, this is further education I’ve obtained to help shape my career or to gain further knowledge in a specific area.
Award & Honours
Always great to highlight achievements as they make you stand out!
Don’t underestimate the power of your interest. Remember that common interests are great conversation starters so show a bit of personality in this section.
There are many more possibilities to include, but solid resumes should touch on the above experiences. Essentially, you want to paint a vibrant and attractive picture of yourself so much, so a hiring manager wants to bring you in for an interview. Be sure to use your contacts and friends in varying industries. We all have our own lens through which we view the world and their view or perspective of your resume will help strengthen it. Feedback is your friend!
This can be a blog of its own so instead, please visit this site for a breakdown of action verbs you can add to your resume. Using strong action verbs not only adds depth to your role descriptions but also helps to better sell your experience and skillset. Canva may also be an additional resource for those looking for a simple way to design their resume – as being visually appealing can keep the eye of readers longer.
Do’s and Don’ts
- DO – describe your previous experience in four-five bullet points (max) each.
- DON’T – use your photo or age. We want to avoid personal details that may lead to discrimination. Hate that this happens, but sadly it’s a reality.
- DO – bring your personality into your resume especially, the way you tell your story throughout the document.
- DON’T – leave unexplained gaps on your resume. Where possible, explain why you may have been looking for work. It’s tough and people will understand, but they want to know your full career story.
- DO – consider the reader and the overall flow of your document. Are there punctuation mistakes or spelling mistakes? Can a reader easily navigate your document or is it clunky? This is where feedback from others is essential.
- DON’T – be generic. Be YOU. There is only one you so why waste time trying to be like others. It’s your time to shine.
- DO – customise your resume to each position by tailoring the language, keywords and your overall experience as presented on your resume.
- DO – revisit your resume every month. This is my steadfast rule. Even whilst remaining in the same position, what you do each month may change so you want to keep track of the experience you’re gaining.
- DO – keep a list of everything you’ve ever done. Having a place to park your experience is essential for when you need to quickly craft a resume for a position. Think of it as a walk-in closet. Please see here for my recommended template to help you get started.
Remember that COVID-19 may make you feel out of control but showing up and trying is in YOUR control. I, like some of you reading this article, was forced to find a new position during the pandemic and successfully found my dream job in months as well as started my own business. Some of the tactics I used to get here are listed in this article.
The key to success is to believe, envision and persevere! I believe in you and would love to be part of your journey. Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn if you have any questions or would simply like to keep me posted on your job search. Best wishes and good luck on your journey.
Suggested further reading from Jessica:
- New free online learning platform to boost workplace skills
- How to Build a Resume in 7 Easy Steps
- 185 Powerful Action Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome
- The Crossroads of Should and Must
- 16 Personalities Quiz
- 14 Effective Ways To Stand Out From Other Applicants
Career Consultant, Jessica Avlis
Jessica Silva is a Career Consultant and Founder of her company Jessica Avlis. With over 10 years of experience advising career searchers on landing their dream job, she had to work harder than ever to create her current opportunity at Fuse Universal as an Advocacy Executive. Jess invites you all to connect with her on LinkedIn.