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How To Write A Killer Resume

How can all your brilliance be captured in a resume? Look, it quite possibly can’t. Your resume is like your personal ad, a blurb describing all the great things you’ve ever done. And although it may feel a little braggy, it should feel like a highlight reel. Touching on the high points and drawing on your struggles to show a little strength of character.

Whether you’re out in the corporate world for the first time, trying to find a cushier situation or looking for extra cash on the side – your resume will make or break it. So make sure the next opportunity that presents itself is handled just right and get your personal highlight reel into tip top shape.

Include a link to your online profile

Your online life is more relevant than ever in your job search. Getting an idea of a person in one or two interviews before committing to a long term working arrangement relies upon the online background check. Include a link to your online LinkedIn, blog, website in your website it will make researching you that much easier.

It also adds a little more weight behind your resume, a publicly listed employment history is more verifiable than a word doc where you can write what ever you like. Format it neatly and get rid of any extra forward slashes or untidy URLs. Oh and don’t forget to make sure your LinkedIn matches the information listed, any gaps will raise questions.

Use one name consistently

Long name, cultural name, nickname; whatever it is be consistent. If you have three different names it can wither your personal brand, and confuse recruiters. Whether that includes your full name, a cheeky initial sandwiched between your first and last name or a shortened handle, your choice!

You wouldn’t want a prospective employer to ring up an old employer and have trouble recalling who you are by name. Not a good look.

Structure is everything

Keeping it concise and clear is crucial, but once you have that down the order and formatting can make a recruiter scan with ease or throw in in the no pile. It’s best to order it to aid in skim-reading for the poor soul tasked with wading through resumes. Oh please keep it to two pages max.

Write it in reverse chronology with education listed at the end. Sure you may have won a gold medal in the primary school swimming carnival, but how does that relate to the role at hand? List the most recent information first with work experience as lead. Make sure to include specific dates of employment, 2015-2016 could mean a year or a month.

Streamline your text to a few sentences at a time as openers and bullet points where possible. Accomplishments should be listed as briefly as possible in bullet points, leave the longer explanations for the interview.

Ditch the pronouns, images, headers and footers, crazy fonts and colours

It may seem boring that every working human formats their resume in a similar way, don’t let this encourage you to go crazy. Unnecessary images, fonts, colour and formatting can draw attention away from your winning history.

And although it literally is all about you, pronouns are just wasting space of your two page real estate. Simplify from I did this to did this. It may sound blunt in  conversation but on paper it reads assertively.

That said if you want to be creative in your presentation, think outside the box. A man seeking a position in a marketing agency in NYC recently disguised himself as a man delivering donuts, which inside housed the man’s pitch for employment. He got the job.

Swap the bland objective statement for an elevator pitch

Professional seeking employment for regular pay check, in reality that’s what all objective statements should read. Rid you resume of the bland, broad, sweeping statement for an elevator pitch. Imagine you had 30 seconds to sell yourself to the specific role at hand and utilise this space for impassioned words. For this to work you need to tailor it to each position you apply for, it will win you an interview no doubt.

Use buzzwords from the job ad

Not only does this prove your suitability for the role it shows you conquered the first hurdle, reading the job description. If the position description focuses on creative development and strategising – pepper those words throughout. That doesn’t mean it should make a mention in every sentence, instead it allows you to utilise your experience and frame it in a way that is most beneficial to the company.

Turn your internship at a local business into a creative development opportunity that you excelled in. No need to mention you fetched coffees and photocopied for six months, at least not on your resume.

Include company descriptions

Managing a local retailer to managing a publicly listed company is a little different and your resume should reflect that. Under each of your mentions under work experience a brief company description can do wonders. I mean really brief. A sentence should do to cover the basics. What they sell/provide and an indication the company’s size is enough. Taking the hassle away from the HR team by providing a little extra info will go a long way.

Format your accomplishments to read as how you achieved them

Accomplishments on your resume can sometimes read a little empty, but with a little formatting it’s an easy fix. Structure your accomplishments as result achieved by action. By simplifying the word usage and getting to the meatier highlights, your resume will hook them in. If you grew the customer database by 1000 people by implementing email marketing, then write just that. A little extra quantification never goes astray.

Always include your relevant references

If a prospective employer has to reach out for references, you have to wonder why they aren’t explicitly listed. Are you making them up on the fly? Have they even been notified? A million questions circulating that if you list your three biggest supporters and their details are easily avoided. Check in advance with your referees, note their name, contact and position, and as an extra their email.

So now you’ve got the tools to get in the front door, get out their and search for your next career move. If it’s your dream job, then rest easy knowing your resume will have you on top of the pile.

Image source:, Dropbox, Lifehacker, Fast Company, The Balance, LinkedIn.

Vox Pop – Andy Vicendese

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