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How To Write a Resume – A Guide to Successful Resume Writing

Provide Evidence – tell the truth.

  • What qualifications, experience, and skills are required for the jobs you are considering?
  • Think of what you have done that matches those attributes.
  • Be specific, focused, and factual and give full explicit details and provide evidence for any claims you make. For example, if you claim to be a good communicator then explain exactly what you did in your job that demonstrated this claim.

Writing Style

  • Make sure the spelling is correct. Get at least two people to check and read your resume.
  • Don’t use the word ‘I’.
  • Start every sentence with a verb or action word.
  • Print to good quality plain white paper only.
  • Keep sentences short.
  • Use past tense where applicable.

Length

  • Try to keep your resume between 1 and 2 pages long and paragraphs to a maximum of 4 lines.
  • Try to use a maximum of 3 to 4 bullet points together, each bullet not more than one or two sentences.

What to Include

  • Don’t include any negatives or anything critical.
  • Don’t include poor grades, or unfortunate work experiences.
  • Don’t include references unless specifically requested.
  • Don’t include a photograph unless relevant, such as acting.
  • Do not include matters about your health or any disabilities you have.
  • Do not include any trade union or political affiliations.
  • Don’t include children you have.
  • Don’t include humor.
  • Don’t show your existing salary or expected salary unless requested.

Formatting, Graphics, and Images

  • Only use bold, underlining, and italics sparingly for emphasis and easy navigation. For example, on section and sub headings.
  • Do not use all caps.
  • Do not use graphics or images.

Chronological or Functional

A chronological style resume is the most common format and is preferred by employers. With a chronological style resume your work history and education entries are sorted by date in order of most recent first.

If you want to focus on your skills and experience and have changed careers often, or have large unexplained gaps in your employment history then a functional style resume may be best. Be careful as function style resumes can sometimes be viewed as attempting to hide gaps.  Do not attempt to hide any gaps as most of the time there is a perfectly good reason, such as getting laid off (it happens!), child birth, or illness that can be explained at interview.

Personal Details and Photos

There is no need to include attributes such as gender, date of birth, photograph, children, weight, height, or marital status. There are exceptions however, for example if you are an actor. If you are not a citizen of the United States then you should include nationality.

Objective/Profile/Summary

A profile or summary, if done correctly will engage the reader and describe your experience, key skills, and qualifications. Keep it short to a few sentences.

Work History

  • Concentrate mostly on achievements, not just responsibilities. Show what you achieved for the company during your work there.
  • Don’t re-write your current job description.
  • Don’t include reasons for leaving.
  • Only include recent jobs. What you did 30 years ago will probably not have much relevance today.
  • Include any voluntary or work placement activities. The employer will be interested in the quality of experience whether or not it was paid.
  • When listing your various jobs, include details which illustrate exactly how they have given you the skills which will be useful.
  • Don’t belittle or undervalue your experience. It is up to you to demonstrate how and why they have given you useful skills.

Education

If you have little work history or are currently attending or due to finish school or college then put education section above work history and expand on what experience, skills, and knowledge your study has given you.

  • Don’t include poor grades.
  • Only show GPA if above average or include honors, if awarded.
  • Give more detail to the higher qualifications listed such as degrees and masters.
  • If you do not have any formal qualifications then show how you successfully completed other educational courses or training.  This might include night school, continuing education, seminars, workshops, or earned your general educational development (GED).
  • Write ‘degree anticipated’ if you have not yet graduated.
  • If you have nothing to put in an education section then focus on writing the other sections of your resume, highlighting the skills and experience you have gained. Consider a school or college nearby that offers classes scheduled around the needs of working adults.

Other Skills/Sections

You can include:

  • languages
  • computing skills
  • published works
  • membership of relevant professional bodies, clubs or societies

When listing languages make sure you include your level such as  fluent, intermediate, or basic. Show if you read, write, or speak.

For computing skills make sure you mention the packages you have used such as Microsoft Word.

Show your ability to type quickly and accurately by including the words per minute you can type.

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