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How to write a resume

Applydirect
Your resume is your first introduction to a prospective employer, and will help to create an image and impression of you. It will likely be the biggest factor in determining whether you make it to the next stage – the interview. Because of the weight of importance placed on this initial step in your application it’s vital you know how to write a winning resume. Below are a handful of resume writing tips to help you make a good impression right from the beginning.
 
There are a number of things you can do to make sure your resume stands out, and portrays you as a ‘quality candidate’. Your resume is a tool to demonstrate that you:
 
• Are reliable and can do the necessary tasks
• Have the required skills for the job
• Have the right training or education
• Are the right ‘fit’ for the organisation 
• Have the appropriate professionalism for the role.
 
 
The basics
 
It is a good idea to use standard software to create your resume to ensure the recipient can open it and it will appear correctly formatted. If you choose to use specialised software to create a particular design or effect, it may be wise to send your application in hard copy, as well as online. If you are sending your resume in hard copy, use quality A4 paper and a good printer to ensure your text appears clear and sharp. A professional-looking resume suggests you are a high quality candidate, before the employer has even read your application.
 
 
Layout and design
 
Unless you are aiming for a role in a particular industry that might place a high value on the unique, creative or unusual presentation, it is advisable to go for a professional, straightforward resume layout. You can still find ways to set your resume apart, while keeping it simple and easy to read. For example, choose your text carefully, use a sharp, clean layout, use colour strategically and use quality paper and printing. 
 
It is usually recommended that you choose a standard font that is easy to read such as Arial, Verdana, Calibri or Times New Roman. These fonts can also create a sense of professionalism and familiarity, as they are commonly used in print texts. Font size that is easy to read is usually around 10-12 points. Sub-headings may be bigger, around 14 points. A standard guide for document margins is 1.5cm. For a neater presentation, it is a good idea to keep the size and style consistent throughout. Ensure that all your text, bullets and headings are aligned as crooked lines can make your resume appear sloppy and unappealing.
 
Job candidates often like to use text effects to attract readers to key points, but it is a shrewd to use effects (bold, italics, CAPS) sparingly. Refrain from underlining where possible, as it can look untidy and may imply there is a link if the document is online.
 
In general, adding colour to highlight your CV is fine, however, ensure your colour placement is a classy feature, not a tacky distraction. Too many or misplaced colours may be off-putting and can cause your resume to look unprofessional.
 
All that said, a resume which is aesthetically pleasing using graphics, designed text and/or colour can make for a standout resume. If you intend to go for an edgier, creative or more modern look (modern sample), first consider a couple of things:
 
• Will a creative or stylised resume be appropriate for the role you are applying for or will it be distracting from your relevant job skills?
• Do you have the technical skills and software to create a highly designed resume? If not, it is well worth paying a professional designer to create the look you are after?
 
 
Photo
 
There are different schools of thought and conflicting advice on whether you should include a photograph in your resume or not. Some advisors suggest that it is a good idea to include a picture to give the employer an early positive impression of you. Others suggest that photos are not standard practice and to include one may actually backfire and disadvantage you if the employer (or screening department or agency) does not favour this practice. It is recommended you base your decision on the type of job you’re applying for and what is standard practice in that industry.
Photo
 
 
There are different schools of thought and conflicting advice on whether you should include a photograph in your resume or not.  Some advisors suggest that it is a good idea to include a picture to give the employer an early positive impression of you. Others suggest that photos are not standard practice and to include one may actually backfire and disadvantage you if the employer (or screening department or agency) does not favour this practice. It is recommended you base your decision on the type of job you’re applying for and what is standard practice in that industry.
 
 
How long should my Resume be?
 
Keep your resume succinct, relevant and brief – it does not need to include everything you have ever done. One or two pages is recommended, however longer resume’s may be appropriate if you have a lot of history/experience to include. Make sure it is easy to read and clear. Employers are likely to be reading through a lot of job applications and if yours is too detailed or lengthy, the key points you want them to notice may be lost.
 
Looking for a sample of a resume to suit your next job application? View our list of resume templates here (Modern CV Template / Vertical CV Template / Classic CV Template).