What is a resume?
Before anything, notice that the word resume was used here, and not CV (or Curriculum Vitae). Both of these terms are commonly used interchangeably but there is a difference.
Resumes are short, abridged, and typically no longer than two pages at most. It is a summary of information, meant to be skimmed through and to identify the highlights of a person’s experience and achievements; the type most people make before applying for jobs.
CVs are much more detailed in every aspect, and contains comprehensive information. The in-depth nature of a CV allows its length to exceed two to three pages.
When to use a cover letter?
The point of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the employer, and there is a formal manner of doing so. Hence, if a large company or organisation is where your details are headed, a cover letter is advised. If it’s a simple handover to an acquaintance already well known to you then there is no need.
Where do we start?
When creating the perfect resume, the aim should always be on impact, and it should be created with the employer’s requirements in mind.
You should read your resume as if you were the employer. And ask yourself if you would hire this person.
What is the organisation looking for? What have they stated as the job requirements and qualifications?
You must tailor your resume to match what they are looking for.
How long should it be?
Job seekers frequently dump as much “impressive” content as possible into a resume. This is a big mistake and play a huge part in why candidates are rejected.
As valuable as your experiences may be, you must realise that employers are sifting through hundreds of resumes. If they take a look at yours, and see that your qualifications and experiences do not match their requirements, they will discard it. Fresh graduates should have resumes that are within a page. If it’s five or more years of experience down the line, make it two.
Remember that the average time a recruiter spends on a resume is roughly six seconds.
What are the basics?
Your name and contact information should always stay as the header. That’s first and foremost, and should be stated before your accomplishments. Remember to bold out names, but not the addresses, phone numbers and/or email.
What to write as your objective?
The argument here tilts both ways. At the end of the day, if your objective is generic or vague, it has no value and wastes valuable space. Moreover, it may have already been clarified in the cover letter if submitted. Repetition of information or unnecessary content is seen as unprofessional.
How to format the resume?
Most applicants use common templates which recruiters have seen more than twice, hence, it is better to use your own. This is where many gain the advantage, for the challenge is to use space as efficiently as possible without cluttering.
Your resume must be easy to read and clean, uncomplicated formats are preferred.
The advantage lies not in design, but presentation of information. Use bullet points to cover work experience instead of full sentences, and use the right words strategically to capture attention. Some keywords from the job posting must be transferred to the resume to make you look like a good match.
What should be included in the resume?
This step requires compromise, but only mention the valid accomplishments and milestones. Keep educational details as concise as possible. Mention work organisations, experiences, duration at jobs and respective titles -- all of which in a manner that is attractive to the employer. Feel free to mention the increase in company revenue after you joined as a sales representative -- highlight accomplishments that are relevant for the job.
What about hobbies and interests?
That’s a no, unless specifically asked for. It may be misinterpreted as unprofessional. But some recruiters might not mind it.