Your resume offers a great opportunity to showcase your skills and experience. It could even open the door to the perfect new job. But where do you begin, and how do you know that you’ve created a document that highlights all of your shining skills and experiences?

To help you get started, we’ve pulled together some of our top resume advice and compiled this toolkit. Read on for some tips and tricks, as well as pitfalls to avoid:

How to Design Your Resume

You want your resume to be a clean, easy-to-read document, typically consisting of no more than one page, unless you are at a very senior level with many years of experience to show off. 

Avoid using a mixture of font styles, and ensure that there is plenty of white space to make it easier to scan. Resist the temptation to cram everything in, otherwise your resume will look cluttered.

Your resume should include the following sections:

  • Personal details: Who you are, the name you are known by, where you can be contacted (address, phone, and email).
  • Education: What institutions you’ve attended, over what periods, and what credentials you earned.
  • Career objectives: What you are seeking and for what reasons.
  • Employment history: Who have you worked for and what have you achieved. Usually displayed in reverse chronological order.
  • Skills, training, and development: What other relevant attributes do you have that may be relevant to this position? Soft skills such as organization, prioritization, time management, and communication have their home here.

How to Make Your Achievements Shine

Within your employment history, it is important to highlight what you have accomplished. How you establish and demonstrate your achievements is a vital part of this document, as it will play an important role in promoting yourself effectively. 

Always consider the meaning of your achievements to your target audience. Endeavor to pick those parts of your performance which are likely to address the reader's concerns and at the same time demonstrate your potential value to the organization. You can look at the job description for the role you’re applying to in order to tailor this effectively.
Always quantify your achievements wherever possible, using numbers and timeframes. For example, “I doubled our social media follower count within six months.”

Getting Your Objective Right

Many consider writing the objective of a resume to be the most challenging part, as the goal is to convey a lot of specific information in a short space. Here are some things to keep in mind as you craft your resume objective:

  • Efficiency: You should keep your objective as concise as possible. Your story should come across in two or three sentences at maximum and take up only a couple lines of space. The message should be conveyed in just a quick scan, so don’t make it too complex. Be confident that each word you use has purpose and meaning; that way no space is wasted.
  • Be specific: Each objective should be tailored to the exact job you’re applying for. If possible, mention the title and refer to the attributes listed in the job description or posting. Avoid generalizations like “excellent sales skills” or “great time management.”
  • Sell your attributes, not goals: It’s exciting when you’re applying for your dream job, but that does not mean you can do the task at hand. The objective section of your resume is a means for you to sell yourself to your potential employer. Use this opportunity to convince them that you’re exactly what they’re looking for and that you can make positive change in their organization.
  • Make it compelling: If your resume is boring or mundane, no one is going to give it a second thought. Think of the objective as the hook of your resume and make it as unique as you are.
  • Make sure it’s necessary: If you’re relatively new to the workforce, or if you’re changing direction, you definitely need an objective section. You’ll use this to explain both your skills and your goals for the future, as well as how they fit into the position you’re applying for. However, if you have plenty of experience in your given field, a resume summary is a better use of that space. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

As a top recruitment consultancy, we review many resumes and can fill you in on many of the most common mistakes we see. Ensure that you avoid:

  • Bloated, lengthy skills sections, objectives, or summaries.
  • Overuse of cliches and buzzwords such as “hardworking,” “motivated,” and “driven.” These should only be used if there is additional, substantial content on your resume. Make sure your resume does not rely on these types of words alone. 
  • Typos. Always check your resume for mistakes and have someone else review it as well.
  • Falsehoods of any kind.

Translating Your Resume to the Internet

While you are constructing your resume, it is also worth updating your digital presence on platforms such as LinkedIn. It makes sense to assume that your resume and LinkedIn profile should contain the same kinds of information. And to a certain extent, they should. But the way this information is conveyed via these two platforms should be considerably different.

The amount of information you share and the voice to use should be influenced by the audience you are trying to reach. While your resume can and should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for, your LinkedIn profile needs to appeal to the masses.

Here are a few LinkedIn profile tips that can really make an impact:

  • Provide a 360-degree view of you as an employee. Your LinkedIn profile is just that – a profile. Like other social media, it should be a depiction of who you are as a human being. So, inject a little personality and discuss what aspects of your work you are passionate about in the intro section of your profile. Keep it short, sweet, meaningful, and captivating.
  • Add more detail. While a resume should be contained to one or two pages depending on your years of experience, there are no restrictions on the length of a LinkedIn profile. Get your point across as succinctly as possible, but don’t whittle down the details as you would on a resume. Your story is what will get you noticed on LinkedIn, not necessarily your list of past positions.
  • Appeal to a wider audience. While you can and should tailor your resume for each role you apply for, your profile needs to be an accurate depiction of you as a professional. It should show off everything you’re capable of, all your accomplishments, and the aspects of your work life which you are particularly proud of. It’s a complete picture, not a snapshot.
  • Add examples of work. This can take many forms. Multimedia is excellent to include, as well as links or a portfolio. 
  • Share your thoughts. Whether in a short form post or a longer blog, this is a great place to post thought leadership that will help you to stand out from others in your field. Show off your expertise regularly through these functions. 

Addressing the Gaps in Your Resume

For whatever reason, there may be some length of time when you were not employed. This creates a gap in your resume. It is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it necessary to address in the document itself. 

You should, however, be prepared to discuss this in an interview setting. Whether you were ill, traveling, acting as a caregiver, or were made redundant and laid off, ensure you are ready to explain and put a positive spin on this. What did you do in this time to hone your hard or soft skills? What did you learn?

Of course, if you were fired, you may have to explain the situation more thoroughly. This will need to be handled delicately and with care and will be unique to your own situation. 

Looking for Further Job Search Guidance?

We have a library of more in-depth resume advice, as well as insights to prepare you for interviews and beyond. Please browse our advice section to learn more.

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