How to Write a Better Resume

When searching for work, a well-written resume is your calling card. It needs to sell your strengths and qualifications instead of just listing your experience and achievements.

A research study from TheLadders, a New York based job-matching service, stated that the average recruiter spends only 6 seconds reviewing a resume.

A resume is your personal marketing pitch to get you in the door for that all important interview. However, every sales pitch needs a starting point so before you jump into the body of your resume, be sure to observe these 9 resume rules:

Job Fair 3.jpg

1.       Include your contact information at the top of the first page.

2.       Make sure that your email is professional; preferably something that includes your last name, e.g. If it resembles, get a new one.

3.       Your resume should be one or two pages, if it is two pages be sure to place the word “Continued” at the bottom of page one and your name and “Page 2” on the top of the second page.

4.       Keep your resume neat and tidy, use section headers and bullets to make it easy to read.

5.       Keep your font size legible, use 11 or 12 points for the body and 14 or 16 points for headers.

6.       Do not include your age or birthdate, marital status, previous salaries or reasons for leaving other positions.

7.       Keep your job history current, show off the last 7 – 10 years of experience (list jobs in sequential order from most recent to oldest).

8.       Use action words to show off your skills and qualifications.

9.       Proofread your resume. Spelling errors don’t make a good first impression.

Now that you know the basics, you need to write your resume like you would advertising copy. Don’t misrepresent your skills but show yourself off in the best light. Instead of just sticking to your great features, show your prospective employer how they can benefit from hiring you.

Ask yourself what the employer really wants and what special skills the perfect candidate would have. Read the job ad thoroughly, it will help you answer those questions. Next brainstorm all of your special skills and present them in a way that will prove that you are the perfect person for the job. These talents do not have to be solely work-related, the skills can be something that you have learned and demonstrated in volunteer activities or your hobbies and interests as well.

There are three types of resume formats that you can use. The most commonly used and flexible resume format is the combined format.

1.       Chronological – This type of resume provides a list of your employment history and the experience you gained as a result of this position. Your job history is listed in reverse chronological order. Click here to see examples of this type of resume.

2.       Functional – this type of resume groups your experience and skills under headings like Administrative, Leadership, Technical, etc. The employment history is then listed below with dates, company name and job title. Click here to see examples of this type of resume.

3.       Combined Format – this type of resume combines the functional and chronological resume formats into one. This resume allows you to show off your skills and demonstrate how your career has developed. Click here to see examples of this type of resume.

The format examples above are just that, examples on formatting. They don’t necessarily provide excellent examples of content. You’ve already brainstormed your special skills and talents, make sure to include them in your resume.

Finally, if you are applying for multiple positions, adapt your resume to target each one. You don’t have to start from scratch each time but you should change some parts of your resume to reflect the wants and needs of each employer.