writing_a_winning_resume

How to Prepare your CV/Resume:

Preparing your own Curriculum Vitae/Resume can seem a daunting task, quite apart from what to put in and what to leave out, describing your own strengths and abilities isn’t easy. What we have tried to do with the following guidelines is to make the whole process a much easier one and ensure that you end up with a professional document which shows you how to pitch your skills and stand out from the crowd. In the current economic and employment climate, employers are looking to consistently improve on productivity and match a prospective employee’s skills and experience with the job needs, both now and in the future.

For most resumes that the recruiter gets these days, the story starts with the applicant’s personal details, and ends close below. And it goes long. Sticking by its definition is a good idea when it comes to résumé making. What is required is a summary. Understanding this will help you make a concise and crisp one page document, which conveys all the necessary information in a quick glance.

When it comes to making the perfect resume, listing your objectives is indispensable. Most recruiters would like to see how you think you are going to shape your career, and whether this will be the defining role in you long employment stint. The resume objective is, simply put, what you wish to achieve by sending your resume to the company. There can only be one possible explanation for this, presuming you are a serious candidate, and that would be to get the job at hand. This should be mentioned in your employment objective. Technically, employment and career objective sections should be separate on you resume. The second should follow from where the first left off. In this way, you immediate objective is a subset of what you wish to achieve in the course of your career. Now with this, there are several combinations which have baffled new applicants over the years. Writing a great resume does not necessarily mean you should follow the rules you hear through the grapevine. It does not have to be one page or follow a specific resume format. Every resume is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication. It should be appropriate to your situation and do exactly what you want it to do. Instead of a bunch of rules and tips, we are going to cut to the chase in this brief guide and offer you the most basic principles of writing a highly effective resume. The resume is a tool with one specific purpose: to win an interview. If it does what the fantasy resume did, it works. If it doesn’t, it isn’t an effective resume. A resume is an advertisement, nothing more, nothing less. A great resume doesn’t just tell them what you have done but makes the same assertion that all good ads do: If you buy this product, you will get these specific, direct benefits. It presents you in the best light. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career. It is so pleasing to the eye that the reader is enticed to pick it up and read it. It “whets the appetite,” stimulates interest in meeting you and learning more about you. It inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview. A good resume/CV offers prospective employers a quick, concise summary of your qualifications, experience, skills and suitability for a particular role. A great resume makes you stand out from the rest of the competition.

Starting with your current or most recent employment provide details of your position as follows:

  • Job title – Clearly mention the title and the period
  • The key tasks and responsibilities that comprise this role’s requirements – notable achievements whilst in the role
  • Where possible quantify your achievements with precise facts and figures, e.g. managed junior staff, handled department budget, prepared management reports
  • Expand on the skills you are using in your current job which you believe will be valuable in the position(s) for which you are applying

It is not necessary to state the reason you are leaving your current position. This will be a topic for conversation when you are invited for interview or can be covered in your letter of application.

For all previous employment, unless one appointment was more significant than your current or last position, keep details brief i.e. the name of the company, job title, period of employment and the job.

Be sure there are no gaps in your career history – unless for example you took a year out to travel, in which case make reference to this under Interests/Hobbies.

If you are a student just starting work, give any evidence you can to demonstrate your practical skills e.g. school prefect, event organization, member of sports team, contributor to college magazine or voluntary work.

You are under no obligation to disclose marital status, age or whether or not you have children unless these are specific criteria for selection for a position that you are interested in.

Consider what examples (interests/ hobbies) you can give to show that you match the selection criteria.

If they want someone to work as part of a large team, remember to say if you belong to a local organization or if you are part of a sports team.

If they want someone who will work on their own for large periods of time, make reference to an Open University course you are considering undertaking.

Your primary objective is to convince the prospective employer that you have the requisite skills, experience and hunger to do the job.

Present your resume/CV in a clear and logical manner, using short sentences, bullet points, a single typeface, and consistently sized headings.  Make sure its no longer than two sides of A4 and that the finished article is polished and error-free.  Proofread, proofread, then proofread again.

Above all, always be honest, accurate and able to talk confidently about any information on your CV. You can however tailor your resume/CV to emphasize certain skills and experiences that match the role you’re applying for. Employers make decisions about candidates based largely upon the relevance of the skills and experience listed on their resume/CVs.

And remember to keep your resume/CV up to date. Don’t waste any of the new experiences, skills or qualifications that you may have gained by letting them go unseen by potential employers.

The use of sub-headings (e.g. Personal details, career history, etc.) will help potential employers glean the information they require with ease.

There should be clear spaces between category headings for easy clarification and definition.

Your name, address and phone number(s) should form the start of the document. If you are giving a work number add the following – ‘please use with discretion.’

Commencing with your present or most recent employer, state your career history. Then list your professional qualifications. If you have been working for many years list your academic qualifications and a very brief mention as to your college or schooling.

If you are just commencing your working life, having previously been a student, provide more in depth knowledge regarding your academic achievements to date.

Under the skills section of your CV don’t forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you’ve done to grow your own skills, even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – it’s all relevant.

Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills you’ve gained and employers look for. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. For example, if you ran your university’s newspaper or if you started a weekend league football team that became a success.

Include anything that shows how diverse, interested and skilled you are. Don’t include passive interests like watching TV, solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in people skills. Make yourself sound really interesting.

Use assertive and positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as “developed”, “organized” or “achieved”. Try to relate the skills you have learned to the job role you’re applying for. For example: “The work experience involved working in a team,” or “This position involved planning, organization and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people”.

Really get to grips with the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions, even if it was just working in a restaurant – every little helps.

References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If you’ve never worked before you’re OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Try to include two if you can.

It’s crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that’s missing. For example, if you’ve just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure they’re on there – potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.