When it comes to taking your next career step, your Resume is probably the most important document, because it defines the first impression your potential employer would have of you and what would make them pick up the phone and give you a call. You may be just setting out to draft your first ever resume, or youmay have had quite a few versions in the past and are looking to update it for your next job application, and to help make this process a little bit easier here's a handy step by step guide to help you build your next resume, and put your best foot forward.
1. Pick your format
Before you get down to the details, the first thing you need to decide is what your resume will look like. The format isn’t only about the design, but also theorder the information, the readability, and the messaging. There are 2 main types of resume formats:
Chronological resumes are the most common type of resumes, and present your experiences in reverse chronological order and show career progression. These resumes are great if your applying for positions within
the same industry that you've had experience in.
Here’s an example of a chronological resume.
Skill-based or functional resumes are more focused on what you can do, rather than what you have done (ie. experience). This type of resume will help highlight your skill sets, which are transferable across jobs
and industries. You would still mention your work experiences in a functional resume but only highlight the relevant responsibilities and achievements. This is a good format if you are shifting careers, or have
limited or scattered work experience. Here’s an example of a skill-based resume.
To help get you started, here are some easy to use resume templates.
2. Add your contact details
Now, that you have selected your format, and are ready to get started, one ofthe first things you would add to the resume is your contact information. Make sure this section is easily visible and ideally on the top
of the part of the page.
This section would include:
- Full name
- Professional email address
- Primary contact number
- Location (City, County)/Nationality (if you are applying to jobs across regions)
- Links: You can add your LinkedIn URL or any online portfolio links or personal websites
What not to add here:
- CPR/Passport details
- Home address
- Religion, Gender, Marital Status, etc.
3. State your objective
Your career objective or personal profile section serves as an opener to the rest of your resume and sets the context for what’s to come next. It is here that you highlight in brief your career goals (why are you
sending this resume), and why would you be a good fit. The 2 main questions that you would answer here are:
-What have you done in the past (for experienced professionals) OR What your background is (for fresh graduates)
-What are you looking to do now (what roles you would be the best fit for)
Make sure your objective statement is clear and to the point and is unique to you. Avoid using generic statements like ‘Hard-working professional’ or ‘looking to further my career in an esteemed organization’, and
focus on being as specific as possible.
Here are 2 examples of objective statements that highlight the candidates’ strengths and clear goals in a few brief sentences.
4. Showcase your experiences
This is the most significant part of the resume and is the one most emphasized. When writing about your professional experiences, here are the things to keep in mind
- Mention your most recent experience first
- Keep it relevant to the jobs you are applying for. For instance, if you have had experience in finance as well as marketing when applying for a marketing role, focus primarily on the relevant experiences, and mention the rest as 'Additional Experiences'
- Show results, not tasks, avoid simply listing down your responsibilities, but rather translate that to the results you have achieved.
Here's a little comparison between task-based and result based experiences
You can use the same format for any type of experience, including Volunteering and Part-time experiences you may have had.
5. Highlight your education
In this section make sure to highlight your most recent/notable educational background (for example you don't need to mention high school if you're not a recent graduate). You can also include any professional certifications or courses that are relevant to your field but avoid mentioning short-term training (uncertified) that may not be relevant. You can also mention any special honors or high GPA, if applicable.
6. Mention your top skills and competencies
When mentioning your skills and core competencies, be sure to emphasize technical and practical skills rather than soft skills which may be too general and non-measurable. Make sure to include skills that are
relevant to the jobs you are applying for.
Avoid generic skills such as ‘Communication’, ‘Leadership’, or ‘Working under pressure’ and re-word them into more tangible skill sets like ‘Public speaking’,‘Team management’, ‘Business research’, ‘Project management’, etc.
7. Review, proof-read, and edit
Keep it short: Generally, recruiters don’t spend more than a few seconds skimming through a CV, so you’d want to make sure all the relevant information is easily shown. Try not to go beyond the recommended
one-page length, and edit out any information that may not be directly relevant.
Keep it simple: Avoid using heavy jargon or unnecessary buzzwords to make it accessible and easy to read for anyone on the receiving end. More importantly, consider if the resume easily and instantly tells your story, showcasing your highlights, and why you would be a good it for the roles you are applying for.
Review: Finally, make sure to proofread the final draft of your CV, or have a friend look it over to make sure you haven't missed any typos or grammatical errors. Grammarly is also a great tool to help you with editing.