I’ve read thousands of job applications and interviewed hundreds of candidates, so I like to think I know a thing or two about what makes a good job application.
Writing a good resume is no easy feat, but it is important to get it right and to stand out from the crowd. These tips should set you off to a good start.
1. Formatting is key!
Format your resume! There’s nothing worse than a badly formatted resume. In fact, poorly formatted resumes probably won’t even get read. Make sure you use a logical layout and a clear font.
Free tools like Canva and even Microsoft Word can give you a head-start.
2. Include a career summary
Replace your career objective with a career summary. A career objective lists what you want – ‘A position as X where I can use and develop my skills in Y‘ – whereas a career summary is a snapshot of your career to date and tells the employer what you have to offer them. That is much more enticing as an employer wants to know how you can add value!
3. Reverse chronological order
Your job history should be in reverse chronological order. I’m still surprised how many people get this wrong. As for how much of your job history to include, this depends on your experience and the position you are applying for. Use your initiative – if you’re an experienced professional, your high school job at McDonalds probably isn’t relevant.
4. Explain your achievements
Your resume should not be a job ad-style list of your responsibilities in each position, but don’t just list your job title either. Tell the reader about your role and accomplishments. What were your responsibilities? What contribution did you make? What did you achieve that was over and above your job requirements?
5. ‘Mind the gap’
Gaps in resumes stand out like a sore thumb. Whatever the reason for the career gap – travel, children, illness, other commitments – it is better to explain it. You can even list the skills you learned during that period.
Personal branding expert Julissa Shrewsbury agrees. Her advice: “I would never say to someone don’t talk about the fact that you have a family because obviously being a mum and having children is part of your identity … [but] you need to pick and choose how much you’re communicating and to what audience.”
Where does motherhood fit in your personal brand (Ep03)
6. Keep it short and sweet
Keep it concise. Most resumes should fit onto a couple of pages, and you don’t achieve this by reducing the font size! The reader will get bored if your resume is too long. Make it punchy.
7. Avoid personal information
There is no need to include personal information such as your date of birth, religion or marital status.
There are mixed reviews about including a photo on your resume. I recently had one applicant who included a full page head shot in his application for a junior lawyer position. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job! If you choose to include a photo, make sure it is appropriate for the position. In other words, a selfie or a snapshot on the beach probably won’t cut it!
If you’re a professional woman juggling family, career and the rest, join our free Facebook group, The Juggle Community, and listen to our weekly podcast, The Juggle, where we share strategies and advice to help you keep all your balls in the air.