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How to write a resume – get an interview every time (almost!)

by | 28 May, 2016 | How to Write a Resume, Job Search | 0 comments

A magnifying glass over the word Resume surrounded by related terms such as experience, awards, skills, education, positions, abilities, objective and more

How to write a resume so you get that interview almost every time

There is one absolute golden rule. Your resume must always be tailored to each individual job that you are seeking, and to the requirements of the individual employer. Let me repeat that – tailor your resume to each individual job, and to the requirements of each individual employer. Submitting a generic resume is a complete waste of your time, and of the employers who receive your document. I can pretty well guarantee you won’t get an interview, or the job. But, back to the question of how to write a resume so that you actually get invited to the interview?.

No single correct way to write a resume

The simple answer to this question is that there isn’t a single correct way to write a resume. You will already know this statement is true if you have been doing some searching on the web trying to find answers for ‘how to’ information. There are literally thousands of different resume templates and blog articles out there which present a variety of approaches and ideas about resume writing. So, right now, chances are you are no clearer about what to do. Let’s face it though – you do need to know this stuff because the resume is still such a critical part of the recruitment and selection process.

How to write a resume – learn all the tricks of the trade

Because your resume is such an important tool in your job search, and because there isn’t just one way to do this, I want to help you to develop the knowledge and skill to decide for yourself which is the best type and style of resume to use for your situation. That’s why I’ve decided to write a number of posts on dealing with the whole topic of resume writing. Your ability to write a fantastic resume that gets you an interview every single time will be enhanced when you know things like:

  • The purpose of your resume
  • What’s the difference between a resume or CV?
  • The different types or styles of resume, and when and how to use them
  • What works and what doesn’t work with a resume
  • Which headings to use
  • What sort of information to include under each heading
  • What other information to include, what to leave out

Your questions and comments are welcome!

Please use the comments section of the blog if you have particular questions about the various topics that I’ll be covering. Also, other readers of this blog will be very interested to learn about your ideas, suggestions, and also stories about your own experiences with your resume – what has worked for you, what hasn’t etc. So, let us know about your resume writing experiences, and results!

What is a resume?

The term ‘resume’, loosely translated from the French language means ‘summary’. Your resume therefore is a short, well written summary of your qualifications, career history, and career accomplishments. Typically it will be a document of up to around 3 pages of information. The purpose of your resume is to get you a job interview.

Resume or CV –what’s the difference?

The terms ‘resume’, ‘Curriculum Vitae’ and ‘CV’ tend to be used interchangeably in everyday recruitment activity. When these terms are used in job adverts they almost always refer to basically the same type of document. What you’re expected to provide is a resume, but you might call your document a CV. Confused? Let me explain. CV, or Curriculum Vitae, loosely translated from Latin means ‘life story’. If you are applying for a job as an academic, or as a researcher in a university you will usually be asked to provide a Curriculum Vitae, or CV. For this type of job, your document will begin to resemble something like a career life story. An academic’s CV can often run to many more than the maximum 3 pages that are recommended for a resume.

Why is an academic’s CV such a big document?

Academics and researchers will need to include other details which are not typically included in a resume. For example, in addition to providing information about the positions they have held, their CV could contain details about things like:

  • a list of books and academic articles that they have written and published
  • conference papers and presentations they have prepared
  • their research, an abstract of their research
  • funding or grants they have received to continue their research
  • their teaching subject matter expertise
  • and so on……

Picture of a resume with a pencil laying on top of itCommonly used resume headings or sections

To help you get started, following is a list of the most commonly used headings in a resume

  • Profile, or Career Summary
  • Any of these – Key Skills Summary, Key Competencies, Competencies, Strengths
  • Any one or more of – Education, Qualifications, Certificates, Certifications, Licences
  • Career Achievements, Relevant Career Achievements
  • Any of these – Professional Experience, Career History, Employment History
  • Summary of Employment History Prior to (if you have extensive employment history more than say 10 years you can, under this heading very briefly describe relevant career experience in a sentence or so.)
  • Any of – Community Involvement, Volunteering
  • Any of – Awards, Prizes, Commendations
  • Any of – Professional Development, Short Courses
  • Interests, Hobbies
  • Referees, References

Don’t get too worried about the actual wording of your headings. The purpose of your headings is to attract the attention of the reader to the different parts of your document. So, use words which best describe what the content following the heading will be about.

How to write a resume – summary

What I have attempted to do in this first article on how to write a resume is to get you to think more strategically about your approach to resume writing. Before writing a single word be clear about:

  • who will be reading this document
  • what is important to the reader (their needs or requirements in relation to the job you are applying for)
  • what are the most important things I want the reader to know about me
  • what is not relevant about my skills, experience, qualifications etc (so I can leave this information out)

The answers to those questions will in turn influence:

  • the headings you will use in your document
  • the order/sequence in which you present your information
  • the type and amount of information you will include in your document

In the subsequent articles I will write on the topic of preparing a resume I will be covering how to complete each and every section of your resume. When you apply the information and tips I will give you in these articles, you can confidently expect that your resume will have sufficient impact to get you to an interview – just about every time you apply for a job!

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