One of the best ways to get a good job today is to have a persuasive resumé and a convincing cover letter. These marketing documents represent you, so they have to be perfect. There are new ways to develop an effective resumé and convince the employer to hire you. In fact, the singular purpose of a resumé for an applicant is to get the interview. For the employer, it is to learn more about the candidate and fill a gap that is missing in their organization. The common denominator in both cases is skill or competency.
The résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV) as it’s sometimes called has changed from a document to showcase your life history, to one where you aim for a specific job role in an organization. Gone is the generic resumé that can be all things to all people. Today this document needs to be personalized and highly tailored to the employer’s needs. Therefore, become an expert in your field and then pivot those skills and experiences directly to the employer, so that you remain competitive in the labour force.
Moreover, a candidate needs to provide a singular advantage or benefit to the company. Ask yourself, “would an employer hire me?” If yes, then give the reasons why. Don’t think of what you have to offer, but rather think what the employer needs. Your resumé should be solutions-focused.
The most important segment of any resumé is the top one third of the resumé. Remember, an employer takes 7 seconds to make a decision whether to select your resumé or someone else’s. You have to be unique and at the same time maintain the standard of resumé etiquette. While a standard resumé remains two pages in length, there is a trend towards a one page document. Therefore, brevity is important. Your name and contact information needs to be front and centre, bolded, and in a font size of at least 14 points. Make sure you have a professional email included, preferably something with your first and, or, last name. You need a phone number and may want to include a LinkedIn account address.
Next in the top one third of the document is the Profile. This is a critical section. A profile is a paragraph (2 sentences) that is essentially a summary of your resumé and acts as the anchor of the entire document. It should include personal characteristics, the name of your occupation, years of experience, and the benefit you offer an employer. You could include the industry that you you want to work in, and the location that you are seeking further advancement. Try to avoid the use of the personal pronoun “I”. The profile statement has to grab the reader’s attention and reflect or summarize the resumé. If not, the resumé may be sidelined.
Remember, your profile is like the first page of a 500 page novel. If it is tedious and doesn’t impact the reader, would you read to the end of the book? Probably not. So if the profile doesn’t encourage the reader to continue to read on, then the application could be dropped or overlooked.
The next part of the resumé just below the Profile is a bulleted summary of qualifications. In this section, provide a summary including:
- key transferable skills
- accreditations or professional designations
- personal characteristics and
- a central career achievement
Keep the resumé concise, with no spelling or grammar mistakes. Add relevant work experience that will highlight skills you can transfer to the new job. Do not include more than 10-15 years of work experience. Remember to add career accomplishments instead of simple duties and responsibilities. You want to capture the interest of the reader and keep them hooked until the bottom of the page.
It is also valuable to add your volunteer experience, but there is no need to list your hobbies or interests. Always include key words from a job posting and place them somewhere on the resumé and cover letter. This is especially effective in large organizations that use Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a software application that matches the applicant with the job posting based on industry or company key terms.
The education and training section of the resumé is where you list your formal education in reverse chronological order. You may also add workplace training and apprenticeships. If you have attained any post-secondary training, you don’t need to add your secondary school on the resumé.
Formatting is also important. Keep an inch wide margin of white space around the resumé. A nice simple border helps to keep your resumé stand apart from the rest. Standard A4 white paper, using a crisp and clear font is essential. Some of those fonts include Arial, Tahoma, Calibri and Garamond. A type text size of 11-12 points should be maintained.
Today, a resumé no longer requires your references. However, these references should be added to a separate page and provided at the interview. References are your allies, and so once an interview is complete and the references are called, the employer gets a better overall picture of who you are and what you can offer the company.
The resumé process takes time, but in the end it will get an employer to review your application. Make sure you proof read your résumé, always get a second opinion and prepare yourself for the most important stage of employment-The Interview.