Resume writing tips improve your resume, get that interview and land your dream job.
When a recruiter reads your resume, their main objective is to assess whether you have the skills and experience to do the job. Their secondary objective is to gain a first impression of your ability to write, spell, punctuate, organize information, summarize, express, and project yourself. Writing a resume that will get you an interview isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s why we have compiled a list of 20 resume writing tips to help you write an exceptional resume that will get you past the initial recruitment stage and through to your first interview.
Here are 20 resume writing tips to help you land your dream job:
1. Contact Information
Check your contact information and make sure that there are no typos, missing digits or letters. Contact information needs to be displayed clearly and legibly at the top of your resume.
2. Write a Personal Profile
Make sure that it is tailored to each job. Summarize in one paragraph your skills, experience, objectives and how you fit the position you are applying for. Use keywords to help your CV get past the applicant tracking system, also known as “bots.”
3. Transferable Skills
Transferable skills are the skills you acquire through your education, previous jobs and life experience. They generally include soft skills such as communication, teamwork, listening, research, planning, analyzing information, coaching, managing conflict, as well as hard skills like computer skills and mathematical skills. It is important to list your transferable skills. If your list is too long, just put down the ones that are relevant to the position to which you are applying.
4. Work History
Always put your most recent job first and the rest in reverse chronological order. There is no need to include all of your work history. The previous 10 years is all that is necessary.
5. Identify Accomplishments
Identify your accomplishments and describe them in your work experience. Use action words such as “I managed”, “I developed”, “I performed”, “I facilitated”, “I hired”, “I expanded.” If you are searching for the correct words, check out this list of 185 action words.
6. Use Keywords From Job Description
Use keywords. If the job description states HTML, CSS, and team working skills essential, make sure you write “HTML, CSS and excellent team working skills.” This will get your resume past the applicant tracking systems and ensure that your CV is correctly assessed by the recruiter.
7. List All Your Computer Skills
Your computer skills should be listed either under Transferable Skills or in a separate section for computer skills, especially if you are applying for a technical position. Double check this section and make sure that you have not missed out one single skill — it could be the difference between getting through to the interview stage or getting rejected.
8. Tailor Resume to Job
Tailoring your resume means highlighting the skills that are most relevant to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you’re applying for a sales job, try to emphasize sales experience like working in a shop, telephone sales and customer care. Remember to save each resume under a different file name so that you have a record.
9. Mimic Language and Expressions Used in Job Description
Use language, terms and expressions that are used in the job description. If the job description states, “must have good teamworking skills”, make sure you include “excellent team working skills” in your profile or in your list of transferable skills.
10. Include URLs
If you have any links to your work on websites, include them in your application. For example, if you have some of your work displayed on a portfolio website or on a website of a client, e.g., photography, web design or development, or writing samples, include the links to showcase them to the recruiting company.
Use bullet points. Don’t write long paragraphs of text without separators. Busy recruitment professionals don’t read, they scan. In order to help the scanning of information, your resume needs to be divided up into small bite-size readable chunks.
Make sure your paragraphs are aligned. Poor alignment is not visually pleasing and shows poor attention to detail.
Keep spacing consistent. If you have used 1 line space above your first job title, don’t use 2 line spaces above your second. Check all of them and make sure they are equal, balanced and in alignment.
Use a clear legible font that is no smaller than 11 pt, ideally 12 pt. Anything smaller is not clearly legible and anything larger looks unprofessional. Use a traditional serif font such as Calibri, Garamond, Helvetica or Arial.
Use simple headings to divide your text and make sure to include: personal profile, transferable skills, work experience, accomplishments, languages. Add hobbies and interests if you have space.
If you want a sleek looking resume, there are plenty of free templates available on the internet in which the design work has been done for you. All you need to do is personalize the information.
For example, canva.com has a large selection of templates to choose from in many different styles, including: professional, minimalist, student, corporate, creative, academic, college and infographic. Some templates have a minimalistic design that elegantly highlights your skills and experience while adding a small touch of design, while others are more expressive.
If you are looking for a position in the creative sector, it is acceptable to use a resume with more color, contrast and design effects in order to express your personality and creativity. But it is important to be aware that the colorful, creative style is not acceptable in all professions.
15. White Space
A lack of white space makes the page appear cluttered and is not visually pleasing. Adding white space means leaving gaps or spaces in appropriate places, adjusting the margins, and using appropriate spacing between lines. White space acts as a separator, creates balance and focuses the eye on relevant information.
Ideally, it should be 1 page, but for people with more experience, it is completely acceptable to let it continue onto a second page. The most important considerations are content, readability and clarity.
According to a recent study by Adzuna.co.uk, a UK recruitment site, out of 3,000 UK resumes, 54% contained one misspelled word and 46% contained 2 or more. The study also revealed that a large proportion of these CVs were littered with incorrect use of apostrophes and incorrect capitalization. The table below from Adzuna.co.uk shows the 10 most common CV errors and the 10 most commonly misspelt words. So, always make sure that you check these spellings in particular. Use a spellcheck if you are unsure.
The Top 10 Most Common CV Errors
- Misspelled words
- Gaps in employment history
- Lack of personal summary
- Missing or invalid postal address
- CV too long or too short
- Invalid or omitted phone number
- Invalid or omitted email address
- Inappropriate file name
- Missing spaces in layout of CV
- Use of non-conventional spellings
10 Most Commonly Misspelled Words
According to the study above, other common mistakes include the misuse of commas, semicolons and colons. If you are unsure about punctuation, check out skillsyouneed.com or oxforddictionaries.com to get some advice.
20. Name the File Correctly
Make sure that the file is named using your own name, e.g., angelasmith.cv.
There are cultural differences between countries; some cultures are more formal and conservative and others allow more creativity and self expression. It is important to check the accepted norms in your region before you begin to craft your resume.
Landing your dream job is not simple. It can be an extensive process that requires time, money, dedication, motivation, willpower and a lot of juggling. Training for a new career can be expensive especially if you already have student debt. Perhaps the first step for any job application is to start with your university degree. Online universities such as University of the People could be a good answer for those unable to afford traditional universities.
UoPeople provides a tuition-free accredited online degree with a mission to make higher education accessible and affordable to all, anytime, anywhere, based on the belief that education is a basic human right. The subjects offered include Computer Science, Business Administration, Health Science and an M.Ed. In addition, there are other online accredited universities that you can review here.
5 Steps To Landing Your Dream Job
- Choose a subject specialty
- Decide whether you want to study on-campus or online
- Complete your degree
- Follow our resume writing tips to craft the perfect resume
- Go out there and land your dream job!