One of the most common editing requests I receive are for resumes. No matter what career path you’ve chosen or how long you’ve been in the industry, a solid resume can set you apart from other applicants for the better.
How do you make a winning resume? Here are five simple tips to help.
1. Use a template
A resume needs to visually grab the attention of the person sorting through a pile of job applications. Using a template is an easy way to achieve this, even if it’s just a template from Microsoft Word. If you’re a little more design-savvy, Canva is a user-friendly online design tool and the free version is great for getting a little fancy. More intermediate designers might go as far as to create their own template using Adobe InDesign.
Not sure if you’ve got the design skills to jazz up a resume yourself? Rest assured, there are professionals, including some editors, who can help make your resume pop.
2. But not just any template!
Think carefully about the role you’re applying for and the industry it falls under. Corporate? Keep it sleek and clean. Customer service? Make it energetic and approachable. Arts? Let your creativity shine.
Your resume should also reflect your level of experience. Some templates lend themselves towards lots of experience, but don’t look right if you don’t have enough to fill the page. Similarly, some templates are more suited for applicants with less experience, but look clunky and messy if too much is squeezed in.
At the end of the day, a resume is a professional document, which should be reflected in the final product. Be sensible with font and colour choices and remember that there is elegance in minimalism and simplicity.
3. Use relevant content
The experience listed on your resume should reflect your industry. You’ve heard it a million times; your application for an accounting role doesn’t need to mention your year as a dish-pig at a pizza shop when you were in high school, or your short-lived stint as a glassy at The Swan Hotel.
‘What if I don’t have relevant experience?’ Ah, I had a feeling you might ask. If you are applying for your first job, or if your past experience isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying for now, fear not. It happens. In these cases, the best thing you can do is highlight transferable skills. That year as a dish-pig when you were in high school might not have much to do with the marketing role you’re eyeing off, but working under pressure in a fast pace environment is one of many skills that transcends the bounds of industry.
4. Use the right language
Resume-writing can feel stiff and stuffy at times, but it’s important to make sure the language is both formal and concise. If your language is too casual or informal, a potential employer may disregard your application. Furthermore, if someone is sorting through a pile of resumes, you need to get to the point fast. Using your words wisely will help to avoid a document that is too long or too cramped.
5. Proofread carefully
If ‘attention to detail’ or ‘excellent written communication skills’ are listed on your resume, don’t contradict yourself. Proofread your resume carefully before submitting it anywhere. In fact, you should ask somebody else to read it; preferably someone with a trained eye.
My sister once submitted her resume to the local bowls club after only letting our mother proofread it for her. She had written ‘bowels club’ instead of bowls club. Safe to say she didn’t get that job.
The safest option is to ask an editor to proofread your resume (and cover letter!) to make sure none of those pesky mistakes end up in your job application.
Keep these helpful tips in mind to make your best resume yet.