This article contains tips from Recruitment Agents and Career Advisers on writing an effective resume. Its intention is to help get you ahead of the competition in the job seeking game.
Tailoring is the process of highlighting your strengths, achievements and responsibilities which closely match the job you’re applying for.
Ekta explains that a lot of people have a generic resume, which causes them to miss out on opportunities. “One person might actually have amazing skills in 3-4 different areas.
I think sometimes these people miss out on really good roles because they refuse to focus on one particular area, and instead come across as being a bit of a jack of all trades.”
Try and tailor your resume to the job description. Look at what sort of skills and experience the job asks for and see if you can find examples in your career where you’ve already done those sorts of things. Provide examples of these in the “Achievements” section of your resume.
Include a Cover Letter
A cover letter is an introductory letter or email summarizing the key strengths, experience and skills you can offer the company. It usually accompanies your resume in a job application.
Elizabeth says a cover letter can “give you a good justification for considering that person.”
Include a tailored cover letter with every job application. Don’t use generic copy and paste letters. Keep them to one page, brief and to the point. As with a resume, you should ask a friend to proofread it before you send it.
Elizabeth cautions that cover letters can make your case but they can’t replace a resume. If you have information in your cover letter, make sure it’s in your resume too.
Get the Keywords in
Keywords are words in your resume that get picked up in a computerized search.
This is becoming more and more important as recruiters, big companies and job seeker websites are now using automated computer systems to sort through resumes.
Here are a couple of tips:
- If you’ve used a particular tool, eg a software package, note it down. Include both the name of the tool and the name of the manufacturer, for example “Microsoft Excel”, “Oracle E-Business”, “Adobe InDesign”
- If you’ve been trained in a particular skill, method or technique, note it down. Examples are “Adult Learning”, “Agile Software Development”, “Six Sigma Black Belt”
- Be careful about putting things into text boxes in Microsoft Word, as these tend to not get picked up by computer systems
Our Resume Template has been specifically designed to help you identify and include important keywords.
Explain the Gaps
Gaps in your employment history (eg extended periods of maternity leave, sickness or accident, being laid off, travel) need to be spoken for, otherwise an employer may assume the worst. Read our article on Resume Gaps – Explaining Employment Gaps to avoid these scenarios.
Always talk about your experiences in terms of size of the project, value, how many people were involved, the benefit to the client, what was achieved. This applies especially to the Professional Experience section of your resume.
Ekta suggests you note the tools (ie software packages, techniques or machines) you used to accomplish a particular achievement in Professional Experience. “Employers want to know where and how you used a particular tool as well as how long ago you’ve used it.”
Ditch the Career Objective – use a Career Profile instead
The old Career Objective statement has gone out of fashion. Recruitment Agent Ekta says she doesn’t see many these days, and if she does, tends to delete them before sending the information on to a prospective employer.
Katie Roberts suggests you should call it a Career Profile, and “focus on what you can do for the organization rather than what the organization can do for you.” Tailor it to what the job is. Only a few lines are necessary – you don’t want it to be an essay.
Less is More
This is all about getting to the point quickly without waffling on. Minimal resumes are easier for employers to read and understand, which increases the likelihood they’ll pay attention to your resume.
Career Adviser Katie Roberts recommends you “use bullet points and be very clear and concise with the language.” Elizabeth adds that a resume should be a “good description of the person that gets across what has been achieved in a minimal sort of way.”