Ten tips for putting together a winning resume

If you're out looking for a new job, here are a few helpful hints to get your resume noticed.

The Basics: Formatting

Like any good brand, your resume needs to be eye-catching and effective. Choose a professional font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, and ensure the font size is legible, generally 10-12 point, except for your name and headings which can be larger and bolded. Be cognizant of the length: one to two pages for less experienced and non-management roles and three pages for senior-level applications. Also, proof read, proof read, proof read. Surveys have shown that as many as three out of four hiring managers will discard a resume with as few as two typos.

Reverse chronological or functional?

Most hiring managers prefer a reverse chronological format, listing the most recent job first with previous jobs following. This gives them a more fluid account of your career progression and typically highlights the most pertinent skills in greatest detail. This may not be the right format, however, if you have any breaks or gaps in employment or if you have a fragmented background with many jobs, professions or industries worked in a short time period. In this case, a functional resume — summarizing key areas of experience — may be a better solution. Another option, however, is using a reverse chronological resume and closing the gaps or fragments in employment.

How much is enough?

When looking at levels of experience, how much should be included on a resume? For older job seekers who fear age discrimination, you don’t need to include your full career summary. While situations differ based on the number of jobs held, think of including either the last 3-4 jobs or 15 years of experience, whichever is less. For those lacking experience, it is acceptable to include voluntary, unpaid or relevant educational involvement on your resume. If you were a committee member of a student club or volunteered for a non-profit organization, extract those duties and indicate why that experience is relevant in your career progression.

What’s too personal?

As marketing techniques vary by country and culture, so do resumes. What may be expected in some countries is not required in North America, generally because it can lead to discrimination. You do not need to reference your marital status, age, children, ethnicity or religion. Also, don’t include a photo.

List achievements

Companies are looking to make an investment in employees, in fact, aside from real estate, labour is the highest cost to a company. You therefore need to prove your return on investment. Instead of simply listing your performed duties, try using CAR statements that outline the Challenge, your Actions, and the Result.

Use keywords

Many companies, particularly those that are large or are household names receive hundreds, if not thousands of resumes, and therefore use a recruitment program to sort applications. They do so by scanning your resume for keywords that match the requirements for the role. Review a few job postings that interest you and pay attention to certain keywords that stand out. Ensure you include these throughout your resume and cover letter, keeping in mind that they should appear at least three times, preferably near the top. Power-up

Reduced, improved, accelerated, launched, identified, eliminated and managed: these are all power words that may be included in your resume. By starting each bullet point with one of these action words, your CAR statements will have more impact and you will demonstrate to employers that your actions produced results.

What are your priorities?

You’ve identified your CAR statements and used power words to describe them, the next step is ensuring that you are referencing those points that are priorities in your desired job. Similar to including key words, ensure that those duties that are most closely related to the job you are applying for are at the top of your experience for each job function.

Target specific opportunities

Just as it is important to customize your cover letter, you’ll have a leg up if you also do so for your resume. While this requires more time and attention to detail, you’ll increase your chances of being noticed by hiring managers. Review the job posting and ensure you list the keywords, job priorities and CAR statements that are most pertinent to the role. Consider including a specific career objective or goal that directly relates to the job and if desired, include the company name in the statement.

Not all resumes are the same

Still uncertain about how to profile your specific skills and experience to a job within your field? A resume for the hospitality industry naturally differs from that of an accountant or labourer. Review examples online to ensure that you are presenting an accurate depiction of yourself and your experience.

Like all good brands, you need to manage your resume and professional profile. With social media making it easier than ever for employers to check up on you, it is essential that you maintain a consistent and professional image across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any blogs you may write or participate in. In addition to ensuring that there are no disparaging remarks or unwanted photos that are visible, you also need to ensure your LinkedIn profile supports what you have referenced in your resume.

By creating a strategic personal marketing campaign and brand, you’ll enjoy greater success both in your next job and throughout your career.