Resume Writing Tips

How To Write A Good Resume/CV

Organize your resume properly

Your resume must be clearly organized. Separate out your resume into sections and list out items in each section in a chronological order.

A typical chronological resume should have the following sections –

  • Contact Details
  • Professional Summary
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Publications
  • Skills/Qualifications
  • Certifications/Honors
  • References

Use adequate whitespace

Make sure that your resume is legible and appropriately spaced. A resume with a lot of words jammed together is almost impossible to read. Likewise, a resume with lots of empty space and too few words looks flimsy and unimportant. Your goal should be to have an adequate mix of white space and words.

Use consistent line spacing

Be consistent in your use of line spacing. It is recommended that you use a double line spacing between headings and the body of text and a single space within sub-headings.

Use consistent vertical alignment

When indenting text, make sure that your vertical alignment is consistent. Use either tabs or spaces. Having a mix of tab stops or spaces in different sections can ruin the appearance of a well-written resume.

Choose the right keywords

Many companies use a automated resume filtering software that looks for specific keywords in a resume. It is crucial that your resume has the keywords that the HR department is looking for. Read the job description carefully and include the details that the recruiter wants to hear from you.

Use full pages

Make each page a full page. A partial page suggests deficiency and gives an impression that information has spilled over onto the second page. In such a case, try to compress your resume in one page. If the second page has considerable amount of information, try to use the full page.

Use a serif font

Serif fonts (fonts with small line extending from the top and bottom) are much easier to read on a computer screen. Use serif fonts if possible. Here is a list of some common serif fonts –

  • Century Schoolbook
  • Courier
  • Times New Roman
  • Georgia

If possible, refrain from using monospaced fonts like Courier as these fonts are difficult to read.

Never use all uppercase letters

NEVER use all-caps (all uppercase letters) in your resume. It makes your resume almost impossible to read.

Use italics and boldfacing to add emphasis

Use italics and boldfacing moderately to make certain sections more evident. Refrain from underlining text as it makes your resume lose some visual clarity.

Make your resume clear, concise and to the point.

HR managers spend less than 20 seconds scanning a resume and they might discard your resume if they find it too vague. Make sure that your resume is concise and pertinent. Avoid including irrelevant information. Arrange your information in such a way that the most important points are easily visible.

Use effective job titles.

Since you get less than 20 seconds to showcase your qualifications and accomplishments to your potential employer, make sure that your titles stand out. Try to make them as descriptive and attention-grabbing as possible.

Write a Focussed Profile Section.

Include an effective and focussed Profile section. This section should be such that it grabs the readers attention. Use this section to indicate what you hope to do for the company. Using a bulleted list is preferred.

Proofread it at least twice

It is hard to overstate the importance of proofreading your resume. Read your resume twice and look out for common spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Also get help from a friend if possible.

Showcase accomplishments instead of responsibilities

In the Experience section, highlight your achievements and accomplishments instead of listing out your duties and responsibilities. Also, whenever possible, present your work experience as challenges or problems solved. A recruiter would already know the responsibilities of the job but would be more interested in what you have done for your previous company.

Consider quantifying your achievements

Wherever possible, use numbers to quantify your achievements. Statements like – “Increased the revenue by 20%” add more credibility to your resume.

Use Bulleted Lists

No recruiter has the time (and the patience) to read large paragraphs of text describing your work profile. Instead, make use of bulleted list that describe your scholastic accomplishments, your work experiences and objectives in short sentences.

Avoid extraneous information

Information such as ethnicity, marital status and religious beliefs should not be included in your resume. Avoid fluffy statements like – “I am well organized and detail oriented”. Also refrain from using statements like “References available upon request.

Only include relevant skills

Only include those skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Merely stating all your skills will not catch the attention of a recruiter, also make sure to explain how your skills make you a good match for the job.

Customize your resume for each job

The most common mistake made by job seekers is to create one generic resume and send it out to all job openings. Customize your resume for each job application. Make sure that your resume has the keywords that the recruiter is looking for.

Only include relevant work experiences

Refrain from listing out unrelated work experiences in your resume. If you are applying for a software developer position then including your part-time job as a car-mechanic does not add any value to your resume.

Resume length – One or two pages

It is recommended that you try to limit your resume to one page. A shorter resume is generally preferred but don’t remove relevant information in order to make your resume shorter. Use as many pages as needed to highlight your accomplishments and qualifications but set the upper limit at three pages.

Use action verbs

Action verbs can add emphasis to your resume and can help you catch the attention of a potential employer. Here is a list of some common action verbs –

  • administered
  • analyzed
  • appointed
  • contacted
  • conveyed
  • convinced
  • standardized
  • studied
  • upgraded
  • utilized

Don’t mention your hobbies

Your potential employer is not interested in knowing that you like reading books or that you enjoy watching Dexter. Refrain from including hobbies in your resume.

Don’t blindly copy sample resume templates

There are a lot of sample resumes available online. If you are using a sample resume, ensure that you customize and personalize it.

Highlight your contact information

Your name should be at the very top of your resume. It should be in a large font and preferably boldfaced. Ensure that your contact details, especially your email address and phone number are correct and clearly listed.

Spend time on your resume, do some research

Crafting a solid resume can be a tedious and time-taking process. Take your time in coming up with a resume. Prepare rough drafts and ask your friends/colleagues for suggestions. While checking your drafts, focus on the content as well as the formatting. There are lots of books, websites and tools that provide sample resumes. Use those sample resumes as a starting point for crafting your own resume

Mention people you have worked for

If you have had the experience of working with top executives in your industry, mentioning their names in your resume might help you gain some credibility. Apart from mentioning them in your resume, you can also ask them for a reference.

Supplement your Education with courses and certifications

Your educational qualifications is a vital part of your resume. However, simply stating the kind of degree that you have achieved is not sufficient. It is recommended that you supplement it with the important courses that you took and how those courses would help you with the job you are applying to.

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