Guidelines for a Good Resume

Guidelines for a Good Resume

It is time to leave behind outdated resume writing conventions. No more ‘one-page rule’, objective statements, responsibility focused role descriptions, and profile summaries consisting of little more than generic statements. Instead, follow these guidelines for a good resume:

1. Aim for Authenticity

It is the age of authenticity. It is essentially the mandate of the Millennial, who by 2025 will make 75 per cent of the global workforce – and therefore be primarily responsible for hiring decisions.

While brands are trying to ‘humanise’ to build trust, credibility, and connect with customers. It makes sense that your resume, of all marketing tools, should have an authentic voice and reflect your personality, work style, leadership approach and values.

Your resume should reflect your voice; avoid jargon, buzzwords and inflated language.

Showcase your work style and motivation by demonstrating what you have achieved and how and why. Provide insight into your personality and values by sharing hobbies and volunteer work.

Related: How to Write an Authentic Resume

2. Promote your Personal Brand

Even if you haven’t mindfully set about creating a personal brand, you have one. Your personal brand is what you’re known for, your skills, strengths, personality, values, motivators, interests.

By purposefully defining your personal brand and consistently communicating your brand you can deliver a more powerful message, improve your ability to differentiate yourself and build authenticity and credibility.

3. Plan to Persuade

The purpose of your resume is to convince the hiring manager to interview you ahead of other applicants. It isn’t enough to list your experience and hope it will speak for itself. A good resume provides evidence of your capabilities.

Avoid simply citing your skills or making vague claims like ‘excellent communication skills’ or ‘skilled in problem-solving.’

Instead, demonstrate your skills with actual examples of your success using these skills.

Alternatively, provide other compelling evidence; testimonials, awards, course results — link to the original testimonial, online articles and certificates to add additional credibility.

Where possible, you should quantify your achievements but also provide context and insight into your work style and motivators by also describing the actions you took.

4. Emphasis your Employability

Employers recognise employability skills as performance drivers, and assess employability skills during the recruitment process.

Employability skills, also called soft skills or transferable skills, refer to the skills and attributes you need to operate and excel in the new world of work — for example, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.

Expanding your achievement examples beyond the outcome achieved and including the actions you took will help demonstrate your employability skills. 

Listing that you accomplished a key performance target is impressive. Still, a good resume will include additional value by providing insight into your approach to planning and organisation, teamwork and what motivated you.

You can also demonstrate the employability skills listed in the position description with specific examples of when you achieved a key outcome using this skill.

5. Tactically Target

Targeting your resume is vital.  The skills and knowledge you highlight are those applicable to the specific job you are applying.

Each time you submit your resume, you need to target it specifically to the position you are applying for. Every time!

It doesn’t matter if you are applying only for positions as an Accounts Receivable Officer. Even roles with the same role title will have differences at each company.  In the same way, you are not like every other Accounts Receivable Officer.

Cover in your resume every duty and key selection criteria listed on the position description. Also, you should demonstrate your alignment with the company’s values and goals.

6. Ace the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Scan

Part of targeting your resume is to ensure your resume ranks highly during a scan by an ATS.

Optimising for the ATS means more now than just hitting the right keywords. Like all technology, Applicant Tracking Systems are also advancing.  Some applicant tracking systems are now using artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP) to screen applications.

NLP makes it possible for the ATS to read and interpret text and determine which parts are important. You need to not only select the right keywords for your resume but make sure you use them naturally and in context.

Advancements in ATS technology also allow the ATS to scan your social media accounts automatically. You should keep your personal social media privacy settings strict. Your professional online presence should be consistent with your personal brand.

Your online presence and resume should work together to tell your career story and communicate your personal brand.

7. Favour Function over Design

The current trend in resume design leans towards either Canva inspired templates that push design over substance or an overly cluttered presentation, a throwback to the result of an imprecise keyword strategy.

Don’t feel intimidated by the over-stylised resume templates you find on Etsy or Canva.  Quality content will always be what gets you over the line.

Your resume design should serve to highlight your content and help you to tell your career story.  By moulding your career into an over-stylised resume template, you risk sacrificing the quality of your content for visual appeal.

You don’t need to be too clever or creative with formatting. The ideal approach is clean, contemporary, and cohesive and compatible with Applicant Tracking System scanning.  Avoid clutter. Include white space to give a page order and direction. Any visual elements used should add value to your content, not interfere with it. 

Related: Tips for Proofreading Your Resume

8. Confirm a Continuous Learning Mind Set

That rapid pace of change also means our skill sets have a shorter lifespan. Skills can be outdated as quickly as the time it takes to finish a four-year university degree.

For this reason, 96% of managers believe reskilling is important, and millennial managers tend to think individuals should be responsible for their own reskilling.

A good resume should include evidence of your efforts to improve your skills with continuous learning.

On a side note, this is also a good argument as to why you should focus only on your most recent ten years of experience.

9. Accentuate your Altruism

A good resume includes volunteer work.

According to Deloitte Volunteer Impact Research Survey, 82% of research participates were more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience.

Including volunteer work on your resume has many benefits. You can use your volunteer experience to demonstrate additional employability and technical skills, but also your volunteer work shows your compassion and demonstrates your values.

Related: How to Add Volunteer Work to Your Resume

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