5 Tips To Perfect Your Resume!
By Farheen B. Khan
1. Check your grammar and spelling!
Yes, it is an obvious one but the amount of resumes with spelling mistakes, poor grammar and general sloppiness is just shocking.
- Use spell check (‘add’ your first and surname to dictionary. I once received a CV where the Indian name ‘Sundeep’ had been auto-changed to Sundae)
- Be mindful of American vs. English spelling
- Re-read your resume after a break or pass it onto someone else
- Check your tenses! If you begin with ‘Farheen was responsible for’ don’t switch the next sentence to ‘Farheen manages’. You must remain consistent!
Another obvious one, but presentation is important. Not only does it separate you from the rest of the pile, but it speaks volumes about who you are as a person. I’m a stickler for good presentation and have skipped resumes if bullets were misaligned. It’s a tell-tale sign of lack of attention to detail. Good hiring managers pay attention to this!
- The simpler the presentation, the better
- Use a simple font, like Arial or Times New Roman and stick to font size 10 (no smaller)
- Use standard margins! Do not squeeze long sentences onto one line, it becomes difficult to read and the page looks ‘too busy’ and complicated
- Avoid using extravagant borders or enlarging your name to font size 22
- Avoid writing the word ‘Resume’ at the top. This document is obviously your resume. Your name is enough
- When using bullets, either use full-stops at the end of each sentence or don’t. Whichever you decide, keep it consistent
- Ensure you use the same format throughout your resume (including structure, bullets and font)
3. Condense information!
If you’ve worked for a number of companies, in various roles, over a number of years, this isn’t an easy task but it is a crucial one. If you are unable to summarise your career profile, it says a lot about your ability to condense information. So, what can you do?
- Include a ‘Profile’ section at the top of your resume. This works well for two reasons:
- Recruiters and HR departments get an idea of who you are within one glance. This is beneficial given the heap of resumes they need to sift through
- It helps you determine what your USP (ultimate selling point) is. Do you want to be sold as a Project Manager, a Business Analyst, a Credit Risk Officer? You get to decide what your ‘tag-line’ is and use it in your profile. You can highlight that million dollar project, the fact you studied at Cambridge or led a forty man initiative
- Take each section of your resume (Profile/Career Summary/Education etc.) and determine what you want to include
- Establish the highest priorities for each role and consolidate. Include relevant details and avoid repeating the same information in all roles (draw out the differences between each role and your value in each position)
This is the crux and most important part of your resume. If you don’t articulate your experience adequately, you’ve done yourself a disservice. If you have a wealth of experience in different sectors and don’t know how to ‘market’ yourself, it might be difficult for recruiters to place you.
- The key is knowing whether you want to sell yourself as a ‘Project Manager’ or an ‘Operations Manager’.
- Only you know what you’ve done in each of your roles. If you’ve worked somewhere for five years, you may not remember what you delivered a few years ago. Review previous appraisals, work objectives and project notes as a reminder of what you achieved. It’s best practice to do this on an on-going basis
- Speak to managers and colleagues to get their advice on what your strengths are (if you’re actively looking while employed, you can be quite inventive with the reasons you need this information! Internal appraisals, personal development plans etc.)
- Use words like ‘Led’, ‘Responsible’, ‘Delivered’, ‘Achieved’ or ‘Managed’. It will help you draw out the significant areas of your role
- Include Project or Role aims where possible, they can be useful
- Try to avoid being too ‘wordy’. Get to the point and avoid repetition!
- Use specific examples of success (e.g. $4M savings achieved in 2011 etc.)
- Give your resume to someone outside of your field to see if they understand what you do
5. Hobbies, Achievements and Other
Many people don’t take the time to detail their hobbies, other achievements and certifications/training. This is absurd. In an interview it can help break the ice and give you an 'in'. I’m not saying it’ll get you the job, but it can get your interviewer more engaged.
- Hobbies need to be something you do quite regularly. Not something you did once when you were a kid. Don’t get caught out at an interview!
- Do not say you can speak a language when you can’t! You’d be surprised how many people still include their GCSE French as ‘working knowledge’, when they’ve not spoken the language in over 12 years!
- Do include charity work, travel, any schemes or training clubs you’re involved in. It lets the company see you’re a well-rounded individual
- Include other achievements you’re proud of for the same reason as above. Training courses, published writer status, pilot’s licence, marathons or triathlons, mountain treks – it all counts!
Author Profile: Farheen B. Khan is a British, Dubai Based Free-lance Writer. She spent the last fifteen years working in Financial Services (Accenture, Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse) across a number of regions. She has written a novel and writes for business, travel and lifestyle features. For more information visit: www.farheenbkhan.com or follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Feeniestar
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