Tips for Building a Winning Resume

Updated on February 10, 2020
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Chris enjoys helping people. He uses whatever experience, knowledge and skills he acquired to uplift and motivate. Get in touch with him.

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Giving your resume a winning makeover is not as hard as you think. You just need guts, a load of advice, and great quality paper.

When I applied for my first job, my resume was a three-page sneak peek at a personal novelette. It was dry, bland, and non-fascinating. It was a miracle I got accepted. Two jobs later and wiser, I was able to craft a winning resume that landed me my dream job.

Below, you will learn from my personal experience.

Let's start with the resume length.

Articles out there will advise several lengths. The one-page patrons will tell you to keep it short. Then, some will say that two pages are ideal. If you have more experience, three pages will capture everything. But definitely, don't go beyond three. I started my draft with three pages and following the advice of cutting it ruthlessly, I ended with just one. The merit of cutting ruthlessly is that I was forced to highlight only the important, relevant stuff.

That would bring us to the second tip.

What, in a resume, is important and relevant?

What's important doesn't include your birthday, your job objective, and a picture. Your employers will not care about your age; they will care more about your experiences and accomplishments. Since you've submitted your resume for a specific position, it's a given that your employer would know what your objective is. A picture? Really, it doesn't amount to much unless you're applying for Mr. or Ms. Congeniality.

Rather, do add a professional summary. One to three sentences will do, as long as it will capture the attention of your employer and provide insight to the kind of professional that you are.

Also essential are contact details such as email address and telephone or mobile number.

What else is relevant would depend on the job position you're applying to. A resume needs to answer most, if not all, of the employer's questions. Be specific.

Why use keywords?

Your skills and experiences should closely and truthfully match the keywords listed in the job description.

Your resume's first barrier comes in the form of Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS filters through a bunch of resumes by scanning specific keywords to find the qualities that the job description called for. It's not human, it doesn't give second chances. When your resume doesn't have what it's looking for, it's out.

Say, your resume already beats the ATS. What else should be considered?

Let's go to the work experience section.

Writing your work experience can turn out into a narration exercise, if you're not careful. Your resume doesn't need sentences and paragraphs. Convert the narrative spiels into bullet lists. From your most likely diverse experience, pick out only the major arcs, the experiences that warrant highlighting and which, of course, closely fit the experience being asked for in the job description. Use punchy, non-cliché verbs to drive action.

Even if your work experience is not a narrative, it needs order and it should tell a story. For instance, experience of just one to two years before jumping into promotion, tells your employer that you're a fast-tracker. Citing numbers and results tells your employer that you're an achiever. In fact, it's advisable that you highlight your achievements though figures. Figures convey measurement, and can spell the difference between you and the next candidate.

Short-term employment may reflect on your ability to sustain work and responsibilities. (See, your employer hasn’t even met you yet but you're already being judged through your resume.)

Even the slightest grammatical mistake can put a slight on your resume.

To an employer, no mistake is slight enough to be overlooked. It goes without saying that your resume should be spic and span, prim and proper. Provide wide margins and breathing space between sections. Check spelling, copy-read and proofread, many times over. If you're comfortable enough to do it, have someone else read and review your resume. Fresh eyes might help pinpoint your unseen errors.

And just to evoke character and a personal touch, do include hobbies, interests and organizations. No need to be too specific about them. Just put in enough to reflect that you're a well- rounded person and you're not just about work.

Finally, your package is almost complete.

How do you tie the ribbon and make the resume an over-all appealing present?

If you're printing your resume, use thick, quality white paper. Avoid fragrance-infused paper; your employer wouldn't appreciate it. If you're sending an electronic copy, it's better to convert your final output to PDF, which will eliminate the risk of someone making accidental edits while they review your resume. Always follow your employer's file-naming convention, if any.

There you have it, the load of advice.

Just need to purchase the paper, so it's ready when you need it. And of course, have guts. Writing your own resume can be a daunting process. After all, it's your primary selling material. It's supposed to warrant a pass to the next stage of the recruitment. And if you don't feel confident enough to brandish your selling points, you'll be left behind or tossed aside. Have courage and believe that you have what it takes to get you to your desired job.

Now, go ahead and give your resume a winning makeover.

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    © 2020 Chris Martine

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