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How to Write a Professional Résumé - 2017 Guide
July 26 | 9 min read
We have to admit that writing a professional résumé might prove a very challenging and complicated process, especially for students that are writing a résumé for the first time searching for a part-time job, internship or volunteering.
However, the process of creating a résumé is difficult also for the more experienced professional that need to change their job after an extended period, and they are not up-to-date with the new trends regarding how to do a résumé.
Difficulties may appear when having gaps in the employment history, lacking direct work experience or having a CV longer than 3 pages, according to The Guardian.
Since our team experienced the same pains when being students ourselves, we decided to write a general guide that will explain all the basics for writing the best résumé, whether you are a first-year student or a senior with 20+ years of work experience.
Our team discussed and conducted research with recruiters and HR experts from all around the world to compile a perfect résumé writing guide which will transform a challenging process into a comfortable and enjoyable adventure.
The guide will consist of natural and logical steps one has to go through before, during and after writing the job application.
What to Do Before You Start Writing
Step 1 - Make Sure You Know What Job/Career You Want
Unfortunately, it frequently happens that people choose the wrong career and for a long time this will only lead to frustration.
Start by asking yourself “If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, what would that be?” It is essential to enjoy what you are doing because that will be a huge part of your life. A work-life balance will not be possible if you wake up every morning feeling obligated to go at your job.
Step 2 - Read About What Are The New Trends & Skills in That Industry
After you know what you would enjoy doing in the long term, start reading what are the trends in that industry and what skills are required for an entry or senior position, depending on your experience. Make sure to confirm your plans with actual facts.
It became easier than ever to improve your skills and learn new ones through the development of technology and e-learning. If you wish to learn more about the Future of Jobs, we recommend you to read the following report on “Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” from World Economic Forum.
Step 3 - Consider Doing a Personality Assessment to Assess The Way You Perform Best
Even if most of the personality test is not 100% accurate, since we all have our unique traits, they can still offer valuable information about your strengths and what career is best suitable for you. We recommend taking this just as an indication, and not for granted.
You can take a free personality test (there are much more to choose from), read the results and make a list of your strengths & skills and consider which ones would be the best for your future career to include them in your résumé.
Step 4 - Ask Your Co-workers/Teachers/Colleagues to Describe Your Skills and Achievements
Most of us have difficulties when having to self-assess our skills and achievements, therefore a good way to start is asking your co-workers/teachers or colleagues to objectively describe your achievement, skills and offer you constructive feedback on what you can do better. It is very important to take the critical feedback with an open mind and in a constructive way.
What to DO While Writing Your Résumé
Step 5 - Consider Using a Tested Résumé Format
There are 3 main résumé formats:
Reverse chronological résumé format - this is the most common format for everyone with previous work experience, and it is suitable especially for people who have relevant work experience related to the job applying for at the moment.
Functional or skills résumé format - recommended for professional who want to highlight their skills and look for a change in their career. You can focus on Hard Skills, Soft Skills, and General Skills.
A combination of the first two - recommended when you have different skills from multiple industries but also relevant for experience for the position you are applying for.
Do not include information that it is not relevant to the job you are applying for or does because it will not add value to your résumé. Consider including spacing between your main sections, as you do not want your résumé to be overcrowded and difficult to read.
When choosing the size of the font, make sure it is not too small because it will decrease the overall readability of your résumé.
Consider the spacing while writing your résumé, because not using enough spacing only to include as much information as possible in one page will backfire because the final document will be hard to read. The margins are also still necessary because your résumé might be printed out.
The recommended format to save your résumé in is PDF because it is more secure and recommended for business documents, since it keeps the same form and appearance across multiple devices and software, making it the ideal format for exchanging documents. Some minor issues may occur only when your job application is being firstly screened by very old ATS systems that do not support PDF file, but do really wish to work for a company that does not invest in their HR department and software infrastructure?
To optimize your résumé for the ATS (applicant tracking system) software, it is crucial to have your Name, Contact Information and Professional Title (recommended to include the title from the job ad) as the first words in your résumé. Step 6 is really important here, since mentioning the skills and keywords that you posses from the job ad is important when you application is being screened first by an ATS.
Step 6 - Include the Skills/Keywords From The Job Ad in Your Application
If you do not know what skills to include in your résumé, carefully read the job add and filter the main keywords, skills, and duties they need to be done. After that, compare them with the skills you possess and firstly include the ones that are a match, after that the ones that might still be relevant for that particular position.
Do NOT include skills that you do not possess because this will be quickly uncovered at the interview and will result in losing precious time.
Step 7 - Quantify Your Achievements Whenever Possible
Résumés exist to tell the recruiter what you have achieved until now, so your achievements are the most significant part of your application. Whenever possible, try to quantify your achievements since numbers and percentages are easier to process and will show how you impacted the previous company.
Achievements Section in Your Résumé
- In charge of the full renovation of the hotel with a $5M budget. Completed the project 3 months before the deadline and respecting the budget.
- Revamped the business page on Facebook that now reached over 95.000 followers (up 38% in just 2 months); which generated over 1.200 customer leads resulting in over 4% increase in bottom line profitability.
- Completed the renovation of the hotel before the deadline and within the budget limit.
- Redesigned the Facebook business page which generated new customer leads resulting in increased profitability.
Step 8 - Use Action Verbs
If you are in doubt what the action verbs are, they are verbs that precisely and vividly demonstrate an action.
A short list of action verbs to use in your résumé:
If you need know more action verbs, check the following list.
Step 9 - Consider the Length of Your Résumé Sample
From our research, it was concluded that the best length for your résumé depends on your career stage and experience:
One-page résumé: Ideal for students/graduates and for everyone that has less than 5 years of relevant work experience for the job they are applying for.
Up to 3 pages résumé: For seniors and professionals having 5+ years of relevant work experience for the job they are applying for.
Remember the concept of “Less Is More” and filter the information you include in your job application, only including the relevant details.
On average, recruiters spend on average only 6 seconds reviewing an individual résumé, therefore focus more on the quality and relevancy of your content rather than the length.
Step 10 - Research the Trends Within the Résumé Standards in Your Country
Résumé standards vary from one country to another. For example, in USA, Australia, and UK it is not recommended to include a personal picture in your résumé, while in Germany, France or many Asian countries you would add a picture.
Step 11 - Contact section & Social Media
Regardless of the country or industry, you are applying for, there is some necessary contact information that needs to be provided, such as:
Phone Number - make sure to include the one where you are available most of the time.
Email address - keep it professional. It should be your name or a professional variation of your name followed by @domain.com.
Country/City - if you are applying for jobs in different cities/countries, make sure to mention in your Cover Letter that you are willing to relocate/travel/commute.
Some optional contacts that can be included are LinkedIn profile, Skype username, personal website or blog address, Twitter profile. If you are a Developer, it is recommended to include your GitHub profile.
If you decide to add your social media accounts, make sure to do an audit and delete information that might be perceived as offensive or unprofessional.
Step 12 - Write A Professional Summary
A professional résumé summary is strongly recommended to include in any job application, and it should be personalized for each application you make. If you do not know how to write a summary for your résumé, here are some résumé summary examples:
“A highly accomplished and professional with more than 15 years of progressive experience in collecting and analyzing financial information for businesses and advising them on financial decisions at all levels. Experienced in finance and operations management in both start-ups and multi-billion dollar companies.”
“An independent and self-motivated graduate with proven and tested business, procurement, sales, and marketing skills. A strong link between theoretical knowledge from an MSc, practical internships and a part-time job.”
“A professional with over 10 years experience and proven successful track record of delivering technology-based products and services. The key to this is a thorough understanding of how creative technology can be used to build a sustainable business.”
What to Do After You Wrote Your Résumé
Step 13 - Spell Check Your Application
Having spelling or grammar mistakes in the application is a common cause for people not being called for a job interview because it shows a non-professional behavior and lack of attention to details.
You can use special software, such as grammarly.com, but remember to ask someone else to proofread and give you feedback on the readability and understandability of your résumé.
Step 14 - Get Feedback From Professional Experts
Before you start applying for your dream job, consider seeking the help from professional career or recruiters experts to make sure you included all the relevant information it is expected from employers to be found in your job application.
Now you are ready to write your résumé and get your dream job!
We hope that the process of writing a résumé is now clear and you are ready to start crafting the best résumé which will help you land your dream job.
You can start by having a look at the professional résumé templates that our team carefully prepared with the help from recruiters all around the world.
Our team wishes you all the best in your future endeavours!
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