1. Assume your reader has a short attention span. Engage the reader immediately (e.g., compelling and concise profile/summary section).
2. Easy on the eyes. Make sure your resume is well-spaced and your font and style are consistent. Arial is a good font choice. Small fonts and single spacing are a turn-off.
3. Narrowly tailored. Your resume should be tailored to the role/position you are targeting. If you want a job in sales, your resume should emphasize your sales experience (and not unrelated experience).
4. Cut-out the fat. Only relevant information should be included. Do not include your birthdate, health information, politics, etc. Only include extra-curricular activities/hobbies if the skills or knowledge are transferable/relevant to the job you are targeting.
5. Keep it short. Limit your resume to one to two pages. Avoid including jobs that are more than 10 years old unless directly relevant to the targeted position.
6. Concise and direct. No one likes wordy resumes. Your resume should be punchy and to the point. If a sentence/word does not add value then delete it! Long paragraphs can be summarized in a few sentences.
7. Use active verbs. When emphasizing your achievements and experience, remember to use active verbs (e.g., managed, increased, created, etc.).
8. Use the active voice. Use the active voice (e.g., “Managed 100 sales staff and achieved 100 million in sales”; and not “100 million in sales and 100 sales staff managed by me”).
9. Emphasize your achievements and skills. You are selling yourself. Accentuate your skills and accomplishments and your potential value to potential employers.
Remember employers like to see measurable achievements (e.g., meeting sales targets or critical deadlines). Where possible, try to quantify your achievements with figures (e.g., sales increased by 10 million or 10%). Or by reference to goals/targets achieved (e.g., created home care division at cost well below employer’s estimated budget and timeframe).
10. Be specific. Be specific when describing your previous job roles and achievements. For example, “managed a sales team and increased sales revenue” is generic an and fails to distinguish. Replace with “managed a sales team of 25 and increased sales revenue by 25% year over year (2017) and 70% over 5 years”.
11. Use what you got. No candidate is perfect. If you do not have significant work experience, then focus on your education. If you do not have a college degree, focus on alternative education, including non-collegiate courses, high school, special training, miscellaneous achievements or extra-curricular activities that demonstrate your skills/knowledge.
If all else fails, emphasize your willingness/capacity to learn.
12. Technical skills and qualifications. If certain skills or qualifications are essential to the target role, make sure you conspicuously note you have them. Consider a “core competencies” or “technical skills” section to keep the reader from wondering if you have the necessary skills.
13. Tell a story. Highlight the progression of your career or the advancement of your skills. In your experience section, show a progression from junior staff to an executive role. Or alternatively, a progression in your skill-set or sales numbers.
14. Consistency. Make sure your resume is logically consistent. If you are seeking a managerial role, then emphasize your managerial skills/experience.
15. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure you have a reliable person proofread your final resume before you send it.
16. Use the right resume form. There are 3 primary resume forms (chronological, functional and hybrid). Choose the one that fits you. Check out our Resume Form Chart to identify which form is right for you!
Design of Your Resume
1. Chronological Resume vs. Functional Resume. How you design your resume will be dictated by a variety of factors, including:
- whether you are a new grad or have years of professional experience
- if you are a mid-level employee or an executive
- whether you have any unique circumstances (e.g., gaps in employment, looking to enter a new field, etc.)
Candidates with an unbroken chain of employment and significant work experience customarily use a chronological resume with a focus on their previous employment, including a job description, description of duties and list of achievements for each employer.
In contrast, candidates with gaps in and/or little employment history may want a functional resume which focuses on each candidate’s objectives, qualifications, skills and achievements generally; but with little emphasis on employer/role specific information or dates of employment.
2. Name and Contact details. Include your name in bold capitalized letters, including address, contact numbers, email, etc. If you live relatively far away from the prospective employer’s office/facilities (e.g., you are willing to relocate), you may choose not to include your address.
3. Consider an introductory “Profile” section. A profile section is an excellent way to briefly/effectively market your skills, qualifications, experience and achievements to capture the employer’s attention. A profile section is very useful where a specific skill-set is critical to the position.
4. Do you need an “Objective” section? An objective section is where you explain to the prospective employer the type of position you are looking for and why. It can be useful when your objective is consistent with the requirements of a particular job role and your level of experience/skills. Do not define your desired role too narrowly if you are a generalist looking for a generic position.
5. Education section. If you do not have a college degree, emphasize other forms of education, including special skills training, certifications, lectures or knowledge, etc. Emphasize education if you lack relevant work experience.
6. Experience section. For many candidates, your experience section will be the focus of the resume. When creating a chronological resume, include the names of employers, the dates of employment, job titles, job descriptions/duties, your achievements and the skills you utilized/developed. Remember, tailor/emphasize the achievements and duties that relate to the job you are targeting.
7. Does it ever make sense to include a “Personal” section? While personal information is generally not included, you can note a willingness to relocate or language skills here that may be of use to a prospective employer.
Tips for Mass Mail Cover Letters
1. Catch reader’s attention. The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself (and your resume) to the reader. So clearly explain the reason you have contacted the reader and convince the reader to consider your resume.
2. Emphasize skills. Note that you have the specific skills, accomplishments or experience that you believe the prospective employer is seeking. Emphasize your strengths and potential value to the employer.
3. Grit. Convey that you have the confidence and dedication to do the job.
4. Empathy. Show that you understand the employer’s business/industry and that you are aware of the employer’s business objectives.
5. Explain why you are interested in the prospective employer and how your skill-set can be effectively used by the prospective employer.
6. Invite further communication so that you can explore the possibility of joining the prospective employer.