How To Write A Resume With Examples – Free Template
Posted On September 25, 2020
Many of us are entranced by finding a job that not only gives us meaning in life but that can fill our bank accounts. We leave school with this overwhelming optimism that now life really begins – and it does, but not in the way that you may think.
In college we think we are learning all of these useful skills that employers are dying to have at their disposal – and that our amazing GPAs and prestigious universities will guarantee our success. Then we are inevitably disparaged when employers begin to reject our applications.
“Why?” we ask – and then we realise – that our amazing GPAs, prestigious universities, and golden degrees are shared by many thousands of students – most of which have better connections, more experience and are otherwise have unfair advantages. Some of these things we cannot change – but there are ways to move the needle in our favour.
Resumes – The Tool Of First Impressions
Resumes, sometimes called CVs, are one of the most influential tools in an interview process. They are the first thing an employer sees, and therefore give them a picture of who you are. They begin to understand your work experience and education, sure, but they also gain a good picture of who you are as a person, and more importantly who you will be as an employee.
There are many aspects to a resume. The goal of the resume is to present a detailed, yet low resolution picture of your abilities – and so by extension, the most important quality for a resume is relevance. Remember that you only have a limited amount of space (a resume should not exceed 2 pages), and your employer has a limited attention span.
This creates some confusion among students and young people that have not had a chance to acquire much experience. Therefore, they end up trying to add things for the sake of filling in space. This can sometimes backfire as it can saturate your resume with irrelevant information and even information that can hurt your case.
A blank resume, however, is also not a good look. Therefore, you ought to populate your resume with as much relevant information as possible – even if you need to explain why it is relevant. That is the beauty of resume writing – it’s not about what you have done, so much as you can sell it.
5 Parts of a Resume
A resume consists of 5 parts – these should be listed in order of importance. The structure is as follows: contact details, work experience, education, other relevant qualifications/ experience, referees. You may also want to include miscellaneous sections – for instance for languages, software proficiencies, first aid/ industry registrations, etc. Miscellaneous sections should be off to the side and should not interfere with the main 4 elements of a resume.
1. Contact Details
Contact details should include: full name, phone number, email address and any relevant online profiles (e.g. LinkedIn). They should not include your home address or any other personal details – as this in some cases can lead to bias (usually negative).
2. Work Experience
Work experience should be listed from most recent to least recent and should be relevant. If you’re entering a new industry then you will need to list previous work experience and try to tie in why it is relevant to the role you’re applying for. If you don’t have any work experience you should consider volunteering / applying for internships.
Make sure to include a brief description of each role, the requirements and how these experiences have shaped you professionally. You should also indicate when you held each position (e.g. 2016-2018). If you have an extensive work history only list the most relevant positions/ most recent. You probably should not include anything you did more than 5 years ago as this quickly loses relevance.
This is formal education – which again- should be listed in order of importance/relevance. You should probably list your highest educational achievement first (e.g. Master Program), followed by your degree and any relevant industry certificates/ qualifications next. You should not include high school qualifications as these don’t count for much.
4. Other Relevant Qualifications And Experience
In the other relevant skills and experience section you should include any relevant internships/ volunteering you have done. You may also wish to list information that may better your chances. Depending on how relevant it is, and the formatting of your resume you may want to include some of this in the miscellaneous section. These may include for instance first aid, driver’s license and access to private transport, etc.
Referees are an important asset to your resume, as they present your employer with potential contacts to verify your side of the story. In reality most employers know perfectly well that you have chosen those people for a reason, and that they will likely confirm what you have said. This is why referees are seldom contacted – and if they are this is one of the last stages of the interview (typically to confirm some suspicions).
Overall referees are typically busy people and will be trouble to get a hold of. This is another reason why employers don’t bother with them. To make matters more challenging for them still, we recommend adding ‘contact details available upon request’ as a means to deter employers calling your referees. This not only makes the whole process more tedious but gives you time to contact your referees beforehand and brief them about the new job you applied for in case their details are requested.
The way a resume looks is very important. Employers typically look at a resume for about 15-30 seconds before either shortlisting it or throwing it in the trash. The reality is employers get hundreds of applications and if your resume looks bad or is it hard to read, then your chances of passing the glance test are significantly reduced.
A resume should be both aesthetically pleasing and simple. Don’t go overboard with fancy decorations. Select an easy to read font such as Calibri, a font size no less than 11, make sure each section is well separated. Generally, it is not customary to have a photo in your resume in Australia, however this will likely not affect your chances of success.
You can use colours to make the resume stand out, but again, don’t over do it. Your resume should stand out, but not for the wrong reasons. If you plan to use colours, use no more than 2-3. Make sure they fit your overall resume aesthetic. You can use charts to show proficiency if you like if you feel it makes sense visually.
The resume is a piece of art. Make it your own – make it unique, interesting and infuse your personally into it.
Different Job, Different Resume
Your resume should almost always change depending on the job you are applying for, even if the changes are relatively minor. This is because your experience and skills have different relevancies to different jobs and you may consider adding other skills and removing some of the ones you had in previous iterations.
Your explanations for each previous job description may also differ, and you may like to include/exclude the skills you learned acquired from each position to make your resume more relevant.
Subtle Resume Giveaways
Be careful what you put in your resume. Employers are looking to disqualify applicants. Perhaps initially employers will only skim read your resume. However, once shortlisted, resumes will be reread in more detail. Don’t give away anything that may be less than appealing to a potential employer.
Most employers are looking for a candidate that is willing to stay in the company for a long time, and that is willing to work hard and constantly improve. Therefore you should avoid showing that you jump from company to company, that you have external motivations such as that you run a competition business, or that in fact you only plan to work at their company for a short time. These are big turn offs for business owners, and they will likely not hire you.
Difference Between The Resume And The Cover Letter
The purpose of resumes is to give a succinct summary of your experience, education and skills. Do not confuse them for a letter of introduction. This is what the cover letter is for. Unlike the resume, the cover letter covers why you would be the most suitable candidate for the job. It should cover the job criteria and explain how you were able to meet these criteria in your previous work history.
Job criteria can typically be found alongside the job board application – for instance SEEK, Indeed, and Jora application pages typically have employers list several educational pre-requisites, minimal experience requirements and desirable qualities. Try to address as many of much of this selection criteria as possible.
Resumes should be unique to different industries, but cover letters should be unique to not only every employer but every position for which you apply. This is because each position has a different set of job requirements and criteria which you must address in your cover letter.
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