Updated: Nov 4, 2022
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In today’s competitive job market, resume writing is more crucial than ever. With competition for jobs being so high, you need to separate yourself from other candidates as much as possible. By putting your most impressive skills and experiences front and center, your resume will catch hiring managers’ attention.
Whether you're called in for an interview depends a great deal on the professionalism of your resume and the way you communicate your skills, abilities, and experience. Your resume shows how your skills, qualifications and experience make you the ideal candidate for the position.
If you’re applying to entry-level roles, internships, or recent grad jobs, chances are you won’t need an expert resume writer (at least at first). However, even if you’re not ready to hire a pro just yet, it never hurts to know what recruiters want to see in your document. So we're sharing our decades of career coaching experience in this ultimate guide on How to Write Your Resume to Land Interviews and Get Your Dream Job.
In this article, we will help you craft your resume and showcase your skills and experience in the best possible light. We'll cover:
Two free Resume Templates you can download and edit
Using the LinkedIn resume builder tool
Resume Formatting essentials
Summary Section with your key skills relevant to the job
Professional Experience related to the position you are seeking, as well as volunteer work not directly related.
Education and training, including certifications or licences relevant to the position.
Professional Memberships and organisations you belong to.
Optional Extras including hobbies and interests, profile photo and colour.
References and when to include them.
How to deal with awkward points and gaps in your career.
Where to get expert assistance with your resume.
Download Resume Templates
We have prepared two fantastic templates to get you started with your resume:
Template #1 - Traditional Resume
Template #2 - Student/Graduate Resume
You can download them for free here:
Using the LinkedIn Resume Builder
If you have a premium LinkedIn subscription, you have access to the LinkedIn Resume Builder tool. This can help you create a professional looking resume that will get you noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. The feature assists you in creating a professional looking resume, using existing data on your LinkedIn profile. It also suggests key words relevant to your desired role title.
While this resume builder tool is useful, it's likely this won't be the final product, as you'll have to make edits to make it look as good as possible. It is worth using if your LinkedIn profile is up to date and extensively completed.
Basic Resume Format
Top resumes that attract the most attention (and attract the most interviews) are those that outline your achievements and value to the company in a concise and engaging way. The information you list on your resume needs to be easy to read, accurate, and follow a reverse-chronological order (i.e. listing your most recent job history and education first).
Think of your resume as a story you’re telling the reader, not just about your accomplishments but the context in which you achieved them. The goal is to help prospective employers see what you can do for them based on what you’ve been able to do in the past.
Ideally, 1-2 pages are best, but if there is a need to utilise additional pages, that can still be acceptable. The most important thing is to ensure the information is neatly organised and scannable. Canva is an excellent tool for final formatting.
Remember to always customise your resume to the specific job description. You can ask friends, family or your Career Coach for feedback on your resume so you can make continuous improvements.
Reverse - Chronological Style Resume
The recommended resume format is a Reverse-Chronological presentation of your work experience and qualifications.
Lists the specifics of your work experience in reverse chronological order.
Includes work history and education.
Many organisations and human resource departments prefer this method.
Always Customise Your Resume
Think of your resume as a marketing document to convince the reader — whether they’re a recruiter, an HR representative, or a hiring manager — that you have what they need. You want to create a baseline version with all of the right elements that you then tweak for the specific job you’re applying for.
Finally, keep your resume truthful. Use the “SHE” formula (be succinct, honest and engaging) to guide you.
What to include in your resume
Essential details are your full name, phone, e-mail, and location.
If you have a website, this would also be important to list. While your LinkedIn profile is a good inclusion, avoid putting social networking sites that are for personal use such as Facebook or Instagram.
It's advisable to conduct a review of your online presence prior to applying for jobs. These days, it's common for hiring managers to Google your name prior to calling you in for an interview. The first thing to show up in a Google search is your LinkedIn profile. Here’s 5 tips to optimise your LinkedIn profile in preparation!
A branding statement is an effective promise of the quality you intend to deliver to the employer. At the top of your resume, you will want to make such a promise through a statement that captures the essence of your skills combined with your personality and passion and the needs in the market you can fill. Your elevator pitch or short bio is a great starting point to develop your branding statement from.
Use your branding statement to highlight:
How are you different than others seeking the position?
What are some of your unique accomplishments?
What unique trait stands out to all that know you?
What benefits do you offer to the company?
What character qualities do you possess?
You can also include years of experience, industries and areas of experience.
Your objective statement is a few concise sentences about your career goals and how they relate to the new position. This is where you explain why you're interested in this next opportunity and why you're actively applying for these roles.
An objective statement is particularly important when just starting out, or when changing careers to provide context as to why you applied for this job.
A common mistake is to forget to include 'what's in it for the hiring manager' - this is your chance to sell yourself and outline what is unique about you and how your potential employer will benefit if they hire you. Focus the reader, highlight your applicable skills and tell them why you applied for the job.
Having worked within the (sector) industry for (x) amount of years, I have extensive experience working as (job title). I am currently seeking a new challenge and exciting work environment where I can utilise my skills (list your skills here) and knowledge (in the areas of x, y z) to drive (x,y,z business objectives).
Summary Section with your Key Skills
One of the most challenging things about writing a resume is figuring out what makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd and why you would be a good fit for the job. If you can’t answer these questions yourself, you'll have difficulty convincing a prospective employer that you are the one they should hire.
So, before you start writing your resume, identify the key skills and strengths that make you stand out.
In your resume, this should form a bullet-point section (up to 10 bullets), which outlines your top skills and abilities, and can be made up of technical and soft skills. Align these items to the job description.
For technical skills, think about any computer applications or software packages you may have experience in - PowerPoint/Keynote skills, experience using excel spreadsheets etc.
For soft skills, think more about your abilities, such as 'communication', 'critical thinking', 'reliability' etc.
Professional Work Experience
This section forms the backbone of your resume. It's a good idea to write this section first to make the rest of your resume flow easily.
Use an uncluttered formatting to make the information easy to find and scan. Remember, if the information is too hard to find, the recruiter may miss important points.
When describing your responsibilities, back up the claims you made in your objective and summary. List at least 3 responsibilities for each experience, this will give you a springboard for talking points during your job interview.
Your professional work experience should show your proven track record of success. To strengthen your resume, quantify your results with numbers wherever possible.
If you have relevant work experience, the appropriate place to include details of your education is at the bottom of your resume. Alternatively, if you’re straight out of college without experience, put your education at the top of the resume just below your summary section.
Including dates of completion is optional. It is OK to leave the dates off if you’ve been out of school for several years.
If you didn’t finish your degree, only include the topics that you did complete.
Professional memberships are a great inclusion, as they show that you are well rounded and get along well with others. Do you belong to any industry associations or hold memberships relevant to the role you are applying for? If so, you can list these here. e.g. if you are an accountant, and a member of the chartered accountants association.
References are usually listed at the end of your resume. Choose around 2 to 3 people you have worked with in the past or present - typically your managers or ex-colleagues.
It’s important to include a reference who was your direct manager, as well as someone who can vouch for you as a colleague or someone you know personally. Always remember to ask your reference for their permission before listing them on your resume.
Usually, contact details for references are not required until the end stages of the recruitment process. So, you have the choice of providing reference details on your resume or simply including a line in this section saying 'References available upon request’.
Hobbies and Interests
Including your personal interests help the hiring manager gain insights to how you would fit into the company culture. Consider including a short list of your hobbies to provide a sense of who you are and what you enjoy doing outside work hours.
If you do decide to include this section, be selective with the hobbies you mention. There's always a chance that this section could work against you if the reader dislikes or is threatened by the activities you list. Avoid politics, religion and any topic that may be polarising to the reader.
Including a photograph is a personal choice, and you will need to take into account the specific role and company you are applying for when you make the decision to include one.
Adding an engaging profile photo can help to create an instant connection with the hiring manager and make you stand out from the crowd.
If you do decide to include a photograph, your face should be clearly visible, meaning you'll want it to take up 40-60% of the space in the frame and have good lighting. Keep it professional in appearance.
If you don’t have a professional headshot, don't worry. These days, modern smartphone cameras are adequate to take your profile photo. Make sure there's adequate lighting, and try out the Portrait Mode setting to create a nice blurred background. Once uploaded, experiment with the filters available on LinkedIn to adjust your profile photo to perfection.
A Pop of Colour
Colour is also a great indicator of personality and attitude. Select a highlight colour that reinforces your branding statement and the tone of the message about yourself. Bright and cheery can be represented by whites and yellows. Reliability and trustworthiness can come through in blue. Each colour choice can speak your message without the addition of more words to your resume.
Your resume should be considered your shop window, proudly displaying your skills and experience to prospective employers, highlighting your crucial career and educational achievements and compelling the recruiter or hiring manager to request an interview. It is your number one personal marketing tool, and its purpose is to help you stand out from the competition.
Dealing with Awkward Points
Don’t fret too much about gaps in your employment, short stints at multiple jobs, or unplanned departures. Yes, they may raise alarm bells for some hiring managers, but remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect resume, especially considering the past few years of uncertainty and job losses. You can often address those issues in a cover letter or during an interview.
There may be gaps in your employment history that create tension or awkwardness. Honesty is the best policy if you are asked to explain times of unemployment for any reason. Be upfront, and highlight what you learnt during your employment gap. Did you gain any real world experience or new skills that have developed you into a more well-rounded person? Share the good that came out of that time.
The most important thing when writing your resume is to make sure that it is relevant and customised to the job you are applying for. It showcases your skills and experience in a way that makes the hiring manager reading it jump out of their chair and call you for an interview.
Check that your resume completes the following:
Clearly presents your full name and contact details
Contains your branding and/or objective statement
Bullet-points your key skills as relevant to the job
Gives a summary of your education
Presents your professional experience in an easy to scan format
Lists other experiences you may have that can contribute to success on the job
Provides details of your references if needed
Your resume is the key to open the door to the interview with the employer. When the employer has so many options to choose from, as superficial as it may sound, looks count. The attention to detail that you stress in your work should be reflected in your documented first impression, your resume.
We're here to help! Book in a session to write an effective resume and cover letter to land you that interview. We'll help you get your dream job!