What to Include in a Great Resume

Monday 27th July, 2020

When creating a resume or a CV it can be unclear what to include, or what to avoid, to ensure that you’re submitting a resume that will stand out to your potential employers. While there is a lot of information out there on the subject, much of it can be a bit conflicting. If you’re looking to secure a new job, here is what you’ll want to include in a great resume.

What is a resume or CV?

A resume is a document that highlights your past employment, skills, qualifications and accomplishments. When applying for a new job you will need to provide a resume so that your potential employer can evaluate if you are a good fit for the position they’re hiring for. Keep in mind that in your job search you may come across the term CV in place of the word resume. While they are slightly different many employers may use the terms resume and CV interchangeably.

When should you create a resume?

Anytime you’re searching for a new job you will need to provide a resume to show a potential employer your experience. Having a resume saved on your computer that you can simply update as needed can be beneficial so you don’t have to put together a new resume from scratch each time you find yourself looking for employment.

Tips for writing a great resume or CV

While there are plenty of templates out there for putting together a resume, you can really make yourself stand out by ensuring that you’re taking the steps to put together a great resume.

Make sure your resume is up to date

This seems simple, but it’s not uncommon for people to apply for jobs with that old resume from six months ago that isn’t necessarily up to date. Always make sure that your resume is updated with current information that showcases your ever-increasing skills and experience. Even if you think your resume is current, before sending your resume always do a double check to make sure that all of the information is up to date.

Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for

While taking the time to tailor your resume to each job you’re applying for can seem tedious, it can give you a great advantage when it comes to standing out among other applicants who don’t take a few minutes to do so. Simply going through your resume with the job you have in mind and changing information as needed to showcase your qualifications for the job you’re applying for can make a big difference. Use of the job title and keywords related to the job can do wonders for bumping you to the top of the list of interviewees.

Don’t try to be fancy

In an effort to stand out, you might think that you need to have a fancy resume that’s designed well or worded uniquely. While it might make your resume more noticeable visually, most employers will see past any extravagance and look at the information itself so there’s no need to do it. In fact, it might be an inconvenience to the person reviewing resumes so it’s best to avoid.

Let the information shine

While it can be tempting to stand out from the crowd, as covered in the tip above, you really want to let the information in your resume shine. Potential employers are hiring you based on your skills, qualifications and experience so making sure that the information in your resume shines rather than adding fancy design elements is a much better use of your time.

Optimized to get through ATS

Many larger companies use ATS, or Applicant Tracking Software, to prescreen all resumes before actually getting the resume to an actual human. Ensuring that your resume is formatted to make it through applicant tracking systems can give you a huge advantage when submitting your resume. Use the formatting information below to help you get through the ATS.

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How to Format Your Resume

Use standard fonts

Using simple, basic fonts in your resume is pretty standard practice that you should stick to. The best fonts to use are Arial, Calibra, Didot, Garamond, Georgia and Helvetica. Don’t give into the temptation to use multiple fonts for aesthetic purposes.

Simple design

Using a simple design of a white background, plenty of white space, plain text and some bullet points for achievements/accomplishments is the standard expected by most employers and the best way to get through ATS. You want your resume to be easy to scan by a busy hiring manager so that they can quickly find the information they need.

Know what format to send

Unless a job posting specifically asks for a PDF, it’s usually best to send in a Word document (.docx). This is especially true if you’re submitting a resume to a large company via online upload because they are likely screening all applications with an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) where a word file is more likely to be accepted.

What are some common mistakes when writing a resume?

Not spell-checking or proofreading

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is simply having typos or bad grammar in your resume. Remember that most recruiters and hiring managers are getting multiple applications for each position and one way to easily get thrown into the disqualified pile is to have simple grammar or spelling errors.

Being too wordy

Most hiring managers are going to quickly scan your resume over the course of a few seconds so multiple paragraphs of text will likely be skipped over or ignored. A great resume is short, to the point and formatted so that it’s easy to read.

Highlighting the wrong info

When creating and formatting your resume, make sure that you’re highlighting the right information. Your skills, qualifications, experience, degrees and certifications should be what you’re trying to bring attention to. So, if you’re going to be emphasizing any information just make sure it’s the correct information.

Bonus tips for what not to do on your resume:

● Don’t write in the first person (use “I”)
● Don’t write hard and transferable skills in the past tense
● Don’t write “references on request” and don’t even include them
● Don’t include ATS formatting violations

When deciding what to include in a great resume, it’s important to consider many factors. Ensuring optimal formatting, highlighting information that will support your application and tailoring your resume to the specific job are all crucial elements to a resume that will get you the job you’re hoping for.

David Alto

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