How to Give Your Resume a Boost

As the front line of your job application, your resume is worth putting effort into. Here’s some tips to make yours stand out.

Look Professional

This is essential. If a resume does not meet conventional appearance requirements, most employers won’t even bother to read it. Keep the font to size 12, and make sure spacing and formatting is consistent throughout your resume. Don’t put a photo in your resume unless you want to amuse HR staff. Use bullet points to improve readability. There should never be blocks of text in your resume – it is a sure bet they will be ignored. Put the most important information on your resume first to capture the attention of the reader straight away. Include contact information such as your email and phone number, but there’s no need to include your address. Most importantly, proof read your resume. Typos make you seem uneducated and unprofessional (especially if you are claiming you pay attention to detail!)

Focus Your Resume

Just like your cover letter, it is important to tailor your resume for every position you apply for. Your resume tells a story, (a brief and punchy story,) and you want that story to stay on topic. Always put relevant experience and achievements first – they are what your future employer cares about. Keep your resume short and sweet. One or two pages should be fine. Irrelevant aspects of previous jobs and activities should be omitted. When describing responsibilities, begin phrases with active language such as “created”, “directed” and “managed.” You want a testament to your initiative rather than a catalogue of activities you’ve been forced to undertake.

Skills

The skills section of your resume should exclusively consist of skills you possess that another candidate might not possess. This may seem obvious, but I have seen countless resumes that have listed skills such as “can operate computer” and “have travelled internationally for work.” I’m glad for you that you can use a computer, but that’s not a skill worthy of noting on a resume. Having travelled internationally is not a skill at all, if that belongs anywhere it belongs in your cover letter. If, for example you’ve completed a course at a certified institution such as HBA Learning that is essential to include. Go through your skills section. Do your skills constitute a reason to hire you over other candidates? Will you use your skills in the job you are applying for? If not, it does not need to be on the list.

Achievements

There is nothing HR staff love more than achievements. They are evidence that you will excel at your future role. The achievements section of your resume should follow strict priority order. First, awards. Awards are fantastic because they are difficult to achieve. But note, only awards that are really achievements deserve to occupy this prime position. “Most Improved” or “Most Enthusiastic” will be better left out. Next on the list are achievements which involve numbers. Where an achievement could be phrased with or without numbers, always include them. For example, “increased yearly profits by 12%” is much better than “substantially increased yearly profits.” Next to include are active achievements such as “implemented companywide compliance scheme.” If you have other achievements on your list that do not fall into any of these categories, consider whether they are worth including. If there’s enough there already, you’re better off without them.

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