The Ultimate Guideline to Writing Your Professional Resume 

Writing your resume can be a tricky exercise and can be stressful for even the most skilled professional. A resume is really your sales pitch to a potential employer about your skills, experience and how you can add value to their company. Resumes, unlike CV’s, need to be adjusted based on the role that you are applying for. They need to be short, concise and list only the information relevant to what you are applying for. 

Make sure that your resume is easily editable so that you can edit it when you apply for different positions. If writing out a resume is intimidating to you, do not worry, we have you covered. We delved into the do’s and don’ts of writing a resume and how you should structure it for optimum impact. 

The Sections of a Resume 

It is important to keep your resume structured, with the relevant information carefully placed in the right places. Unstructured, sloppy resumes are considered a reflection on your work ethic and professionalism and is the easiest way to get thrown on the rejection heap. So, in order to get the structure right, it is important to follow a set format to reflect the relevant information in the correct order. 

Remember though, a resume needs to be edited and adjusted according to each unique position, so you can swap the order around if something is more relevant to the position than others. For example, if your education directly relates to the position, while your experience doesn’t you can list that first. Here are our recommended ways of structuring your resume. 

Basic Details 

Start out with the basic information the company will need about you. In this section, you should include: 

  • Name and surname;
  • City of Residence; 
  • Gender (if this is important to the role); 
  • Age or birthday; 
  • Contact details, including mobile number and email address; 
  • Links to professional accounts like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if they are professional enough to be examined by potential employers. 

Professional Summary 

This has evolved over the years. CV’s and resumes used to call for an objective statement about the job seeker, but over the years, this has become outdated and irrelevant. What a professional summary should reflect is how you would be a good fit for the job and what contributions you would be making to the organisation. Make sure that you rewrite this every time you apply for a new role in order to personalize it for each organisation. Think of this as your teaser for the rest of the resume. 

Any recruiter will look at this first before doing a deep dive into the rest of the resume, so you can, in fact, say that this is your first impression, so make it a good one. It is important to include the relevant skills and experience that is relevant to the job that you are applying for in this summary so that the recruiter can find out if you are a suitable candidate immediately. 

  • First bullet point : Your professional title with the number of years experience.
  • Second bullet point : Taking three to four points of your CV and converting them to catchy points. 
  • Third bullet point : List your achievements in numbers and percentages. If you achieved a certain sales percentage, list that here. 
  • Fourth bullet point: What value would you add to the company. What unique offerings do you have? Make this short and snappy. 

Skills 

This is something you can place, highlighted, in various places on your resume. You can list them down the margin of the document, or highlight them before you launch the “meaty” part of the resume. The highlighting of skills makes it easy for the recruiter to determine whether you match the job spec in order to shortlist you to the wanted candidates. 

If you have a specialized background, and are applying for a particular job, for example, it is important to list these clearly to catch the eye of the recruiter. In this way, they won’t need to pour over your resume for a frustrating length of time and will be able to ascertain quickly that you belong in the shortlisted pile, where they can take more time unpacking the rest of your information .

Work Experience 

Right, this is the important part of your resume that will take up the most time. You will need to spend some time sorting through what is important to include and exclude in this section. The rule of thumb is to leave out anything that is over ten years old or is not relevant to the position that you are applying for. For example, the college job in which you waited tables can be scrapped from the resume if you are applying for the marketing department position in a savvy agency. 

The order that you include your experience is also important. Most resumes work from the latest job to oldest in order for the recruiter to have a firm grasp on what the most recent experience that is relevant to the new position is. So, start with the job that you currently, or most recently held and work your way backward. 

Now, let’s take a look at what is important to include in this experience. It is important to keep this section as clear and concise as possible. List the biggest achievements, rather than listing out your daily duties and responsibilities. Bullet points make it easy to read and to pick out the most important information. 

This section needs to contain the following vital information:

  • Position held;
  • Company; 
  • Location of position;
  • Period of service; 
  • Reason for leaving; 
  • Key achievements and data points that are vital to  your job; 
  • A contact or reference for the company. 

Work through this section carefully, making sure you are highlighting your strengths and developed skillsets in each of the bullet points. Do not inundate the reader with too many details about your duties and your role. This should be obvious from the description and you could potentially risk losing the recruiter in the mass of information. 

The second rule to remember is not to leave gaps in your resume. Recruiters will pick up instantly if there is a few months missing in between one role and another. Rather, be truthful about what you were doing in those months. If you had taken some time off on a sabbatical, list that, if you took maternity leave, indicate it in the timeline. Recruiters will automatically think the worst with incomplete resumes, so it is better for you to rather be transparent. If there is a blight on your resume, and you have had a less than pleasant experience with a company, it is always best to include that. You will have your opportunity to explain the situation and be transparent about it. 

Education 

The education part of your resume is vital for you to land your dream job. Where it goes on the resume does depend on the role that you are applying for. If it is directly related to potential job, you can choose to include this section before your experience. It also is totally acceptable to put it toward the end of the resume. 

List your education in reverse chronological order as you did with your work experience. If you have received tertiary education, list that first and move backward to school. Include the following:

  • Level of Education; 
  • Degree/ Diploma achieved; 
  • Institution; 
  • City; 
  • Dates. 

There is no need to include what subjects and what grades you achieved, especially for school. This is redundant and unnecessary information. If you have also received other qualifications through training academies and learning centers, you can include those too. However, only include them if they are directly related to the job that you are applying for and if it counts in your favour. 

Last Thoughts 

If you find it necessary, you can add additional experience onto your CV. This however, does depend on what you want to add. If it is a hobby or volunteer experience, make sure you have a reason for including it if they bring it up in the interview. These sections make you a lot more personable to the recruiter, however, redundant information can simply waste space on the resume. The last thing to do when writing a resume is to proofread it! Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Recruiters find this highly unprofessional and you will be rejected immediately for sloppy sentences. 

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