Career Tips

What makes a good resume?

Posted: 12/05/2014

If you are applying for an important job position, ‘what make a good resume?’ is one question you’re probably asking yourself. The most important point to remember when writing a resume is that the objective is to sell yourself to a potential employer or agency. If you keep this in mind, the process will be simpler. In order to sell yourself and appear professional and polished, it pays to keep the following in mind

Target your resume
You need more than one! Keep in mind that if you are applying for several different jobs, it is essential that you change some of the information for each resume. The employer must think that the resume has been targeted especially for them.

Gimmicks
Avoid gimmicks at all costs. Resumes that appear like pop-up books, resumes with riddles or funny letters, wacky packaging and so on are not appreciated. Yes, you can argue that they will gain the attention of the respondent, but it may not be the attention you desire.

Choose a professional font
Make sure your font is black or dark grey, and avoid alternative looking fonts – especially Comic Sans! Professional looking options include Ariel, Baskerville, Georgia, or Helvetica.

Photographs
The bottom line is that there is no set rule as to whether you should or should not include a photograph with your resume. Technically speaking, a recruiter cannot ask for a photo, but you are welcome to include one. Simply make sure the photograph is conservative and professional looking. Generally speaking, black-and-white photographs are ideal. If you don’t have a corporate photograph taken by a professional photographer, it doesn’t matter, just make sure the background is plain, you are dressed suitably, and you are presenting a professional image of yourself.

Your email address
You must include an email address, but make it sensible. Unfortunately, this issue of email addresses must be spelt out here. If your email address looks unprofessional, you simply must create another one. You can do so in Gmail, and it will take you just five minutes. Exclaiming that your current email is the only one that you have is simply no excuse, particularly if it reads as crazymaizy@hotmail.com or hipsterhotstar@gmail.com. Certainly these examples aren’t rude or lewd, but they’ll certainly make you look foolish – and unprofessional. Sadly though, it is amazing the amount of people that submit inappropriate contact details.

Avoid complexity with your formatting
Keep things simple. Don’t add lines boxes in between paragraphs or do anything fancy.

Headings and subheadings
Avoid using too many headings or subheadings, especially if they sound similar. Feel free to use the words that you prefer though. For example, you could write “Employment History”, or if you prefer, “Past Jobs”. It is up to you. Underline or bold your headings, but don’t do both. Once again, we are trying to keep things as clean and clear as possible.

Make sure your contact details are clear
Your phone numbers, including both landline and mobile, along with your email address should be easy to find on your resume. Think through the action that will be taken when people try to use these contact details. Regarding your email, do you check this daily? Regarding phone messaging, are the messages you have left on your answering machines or mobile phone answering service professional and clear? Make sure you check them.

Avoid symbols and graphics
Your resume  may be scanned for particular words by the panel or agency, so if you have included lines and graphics, just be mindful that they can make your resume look messy.

List only past experiences that are relevant to your new job
A two week stint working at the local cafe, or helping out at your cousin’s office over the holidays will not be relevant for your potential employer. Your objective is to supply the reader with a professional history that has prepared you for, or is relevant to, this new position. Too much information will confuse the reader.

Save your resume as a PDF
In case you’ve never experienced this yourself, it pays to know that what you send in a Word document may not be received showing the formatting you intended! Word documents are famous for going a little strange in cyberspace, appearing at the other end with page breaks missing or “hangers”. Avoid the drama and save a copy of your resume as a PDF. Send the PDF version if you have to apply online or through email.

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