The PERFECT Resume
What makes a PERFECT resume? It's confusing when there is so much conflicting advice, so many diverse templates, when all you want your resume to do, is achieve interviews and a job offers. Yes, the look and feel of a resume is very important, but don’t get conned by bright lights, bells and whistles. To get your resume pass an Applicant Tracking System or HRIS and into 'human hands', you need a contemporary best-practice, no-frills template which presents you professionally AND the right content.
The FIRST page
The first-page of a resume is the ‘key’ to achieving interviews and most job-seekers get this wrong. Hiring organisations are not going to read every word, every page of the (often) hundreds of applications they receive for any advertised position – they will usually decide within six (6) seconds whether the rest of the resume is worth reading. So if you don’t get the first page of your resume right, forget about it – your applications will be rejected.
What should be on the first page of a resume (and the sequence)
OVERVIEW: Provides a summation/synopsis of your work experience to date and the skill-set and knowledgebase you have accrued via your formal qualifications, professional development (relevant training programs and workshops you have participated in/attended) and importantly, what you can bring to a hiring organisation, i.e. your ‘value proposition’.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Provides a snapshot of your skill-set relevant to the positions you are targeting and should align to the keywords and key phrases found in Position Descriptions for advertised positions you are applying for – this section should be constantly updated to reflect these keywords/key phrases – but be honest, if you don’t, it could come back to haunt you. There’s no point getting a job when you can’t deliver what you promised.
EDUCATION: This must appear on the first page of your resume – not at the rear of the document and should include not only the qualification title, but also where and when you got it, and, if you are a recent graduate, include core units of study. Also include notable information about your academic qualifications such as any associated scholarships, academic awards and other such information. NOTE: Know the difference between ‘Education’ and ‘Professional Development’, i.e. Education includes degrees, diplomas, certifications from a higher learning institution (Certificates I, II, III, IV).
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Relevant (to the positions you are applying for) training programs, workshops, conferences you have attended and again, include name of training and where and when attended.
CREDENTIALS, MEMBERSHIPS, REGISTRATIONS: Credentials include certifications such as ITIL® (v3, 4), PRINCE2 ®, Microsoft (MCP, MCSA, MCSE) Project Management Professional (PMP®) etc (include training service provider and year attained). Membership information, i.e. CPA, FCPA, Engineers Australia, etc (include year attained). Registrations, i.e. Teaching, Nursing, Legal etc (include registration number).
TECHNICAL SKILLS: Information on the systems/applications you are experienced with, i.e. Microsoft Suite, AutoCAD, MATLAB, Java, MYOB, PeopleSoft, SAP, TRIM etc. If you are an IT professional include operating systems, programming tools, network management tools etc.
EXPERIENCE SUMMARY: Provides a snapshot of your work experience/career to date – dates (month/year started, and month/year ended, position title, organisation name, suburb/city. NOTE: Don’t include totally unrelated positions – these can be referred to under ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE but not featured. NOTE ALSO: If you have had less than two (2) positions, don’t include this section.
Subsequent, follow-on pages
Subsequent (follow-on) pages commence with EXPERIENCE and can include ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE if not related to the positions you are targeting at this time (you should always segregate ‘Related’ and ‘Non-Related’ experience.
REFEREES follow on from EXPERIENCE. NOTE: Academic Resumes/CVs have an entirely different structure – contact us for more information on Academic resumes/CVs.
Experience - what to (and not to) includes
At the top of the list of what not to do with your EXPERIENCE is ‘copy + paste’ data from Position Descriptions you may have for either your current, or previous positions. The information from Position Descriptions is essentially a ‘to-do list’ and hiring organisations do not want to read Position Descriptions from applicants -what you should include under each position on your resume is the following:
A ‘Role Purpose’, i.e. why you were hired – the core accountability/responsibility of the role.
The ‘core’ responsibilities of your role – not every single one – and importantly, how you do each one – the tools you use and the purpose of the activity.
Any achievements related to the role – but they must be meaningful and quantified, i.e. ‘Contributed to continuous improvement’ says and means nothing – be specific, say what you did, why you did it, and what were the measurable outcomes (dollars, percentage, operational efficiencies). Consider also what constitutes as an ‘Achievement’ apart from continuous improvement initiatives: a rapid promotion is one, being selected to take part or lead a project is another, being appointed to a higher duty role for a period and other similar recognition from your employing organisation.
Also on the list of what not to do when recording EXPERIENCE is combining relevant and non-relevant experience in reverse chronological descending order, (i.e. the latest position is on top). Many people do this because they are under the (mistaken) belief there should be no obvious ‘date gaps’ in this sequence. This is not a good assumption to make, as you may be a qualified Accountant and had a couple of related employment experiences, but also worked in non-related roles such as in hospitality or retail (before and during your academic studies). Whilst these non-related roles are important as they often include highly transferable skills particularly in relation to customer service, teamwork, leadership etc., they nevertheless can be confusing to a resume screening software system and/or the hiring organisation, and as such, should be segregated.
When you do have both ‘Related’ experience (relevant to the jobs you are targeting), and ‘Non-Related’ experience (good experience but not relevant to the jobs you are targeting), you need two section headings: RELATED EXPERIENCE and ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE.
When you do list your ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE be mindful to not include ‘excessive detail’, i.e. don’t list every task you performed – cut to the chase, provide base information on your core activities and highlight any ‘transferable skills’.
Conversely to the above, is not including enough information. So therefore consider the positions you are targeting and review a couple of Position Descriptions from currently advertised jobs to get a feel for the type of information you should be including (needless to say, the information you insert under each position on your resume must be factual).