Step by Step Guidelines for writing an impressive resume

A resume is a marketing tool to sell your skills and competency to a company to earn you an opportunity to interview. It should be convincing enough to earn you a seat at the interview room where you will be able to demonstrate some of your skills and competencies to the hiring manager. Hiring managers receive many resumes and your ability to grab their attention within a 10 seconds glance is key to getting an opportunity to interview. This can only be achieved by making your resume stand out among other applicants. In this blog, we cover the ingredients of a good resume that can earn you a chance to the interview table.

Step 1: Pick the right format for your resume

Choosing the right format is not only about the style but also about functionality. The format determines the order in which information is organized in your resume. There are three resume formats you can choose from: reverse chronological, functional, and combination.

Reverse chronological

The reverse-chronological format is one of the traditional resume formats that put emphasis on the professional history of the applicant. This format can be ideal for someone with rich professional work history and limited employment gaps. The format is also ideal for someone applying for a job in the same field. However, it is not ideal for someone to change career paths or changes jobs frequently.  It contains the following sections: contact information, resume objective, work experience, additional skills, education, and accomplishments respectively.

Functional format

This format of a resume puts more emphasis on the skills of the applicant. It contains the following sections: contact information, resume introduction, work experience, relevant skills, education, accomplishments. The format is skill-based and thus suitable for those changing careers from one industry to another or have gaps in employment. However, it is not suitable for entry-level candidates with limited experience or who want to showcase their upwards career mobility.

Combination format

This resume format combines the elements of functional and chronological format and is suitable for applicants with great experience in a specific industry. It focuses on both the professional work history and skills of the applicant. It contains the following sections: contact information, professional profile, work experience, skills, and education. It is suitable for those looking to change career paths or are masters in a particular field. However, it is not ideal for entry-level candidates or those with no experience.

Step 2: Add your name and contacts

Start your resume by introducing yourself. Include identifying information such as your name and contact information like phone number and email address. Your name should stand out and clearly bolded at the top followed by other details. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile but ensure that it is up-to-date and matches your resume. Your contact information should be appropriate and professional and not email addresses such as johnbigdog@yahoo.com. This is also where you can add a link to your online portfolios such as a Behance account for creatives or a Github account for software developers.

Step 3: Introduce your resume

Introduce your resume by giving an objective statement explaining your career goals. This is ideal for entry-level applicants. You can also introduce your resume by giving a short summary of your resume. This is typically a numbered list of your past achievements and is suitable for those with some experience. Third, you can introduce your resume by providing a bulleted list of qualifications. This is ideal for industry experts with extensive experience.

Step 4: Highlight your skills

Select and list skills that best fit the job description. Skills are key in selecting the right candidate, however, backing the skills up with experience is better. Highlight both soft and hard skills that best match the job description. Hard skills are quantifiable such as mastery of foreign languages, bookkeeping, computer programming using Java, or mastery of Excel spreadsheet. On the other hand, soft skills are mainly based on one’s personality such as responsibility, teamwork, stress management, and discipline among others.

Step 5: Talk about your education

Education fortifies the foundation of your knowledge and expertise. However, professional experience takes precedence, especially for senior positions. Therefore, if you are an entry-level candidate then having an elaborate education section can boost your chances of winning an interview. However, if you have extensive experience then it is important to shorten the education section. Your education section should list the name of the university or college, location, date of graduation, degree, and GPA (only if required or your GPA is above 3.0) respectively.

Step 6: Highlight your professional history

Work experience or professional history is very important for a candidate with some experience in the relevant field. It shows the hiring manager that you can apply your skills to achieve measurable results. List your work experience in reverse-chronological order from the most recent. Provide a detailed description of the experience including the name of the company, the period of employment, your duties, key achievements, and lessons learned. This should be written in a maximum of 6 bulleted points.

It is important to tune your experience description to the rhythm of the job advertisement. Match keywords in the job description with your duties and attach key achievements to it. This will make it easier for the hiring manager to match your candidacy to their job vacancy.

Step 7: Mention your certifications and awards

Although not all jobs require listing of certifications and licenses, some strictly require the candidate to have acquired a practicing license in the field. For example, construction, nursing, and some computer programming jobs may need a practice license to be considered for the position. For applicants who have published academic articles relevant to the job, list the articles in this section in reverse chronological order. Awards or Honors also help spice up your resume to make you stand out. Any achievements such as grants, honors, professional affiliations, or scholarships can also be added in this section.

Step 8: Give it style and format

Your resume needs to look clean, presentable, professional, and readable to the hiring manager. This is why it is important to ensure that it is well-formatted with the right font size, font style, spacing, and margins. Some formatting to consider include:

  • Keeping margins at 1-1.5 inches
  • Selecting a clean font like Arial
  • Using bullet points to list items
  • Keeping the content at a font size of 10-12
  • Bolding the headers to make them stand out

Step 9: Proofread

The last stage involves reviewing the resume for punctuation errors, spelling, or grammar. You can also get a third-party opinion by asking friends and family members to review and advise you accordingly. It is advisable to keep your resume length at a maximum of 2 pages.

Sample of a resume

Follow the link to download a sample of a resume

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