From a candidate's perspective, the resume is designed as a sales document. It should give the reader enough information to understand your background and how it relates to the available position.
From the hirer's perspective, the resume is used like a tool to selectively screen candidates for jobs. It can be used to both include candidates into a short-list and exclude candidates from the selection process.
Professional job seekers will always tailor and fine tune resumes for different roles. Never rely on a cover letter attached to a generic resume. The person screening may not read the letter and simply rely on the resume to base their decision making. This is a common mistake made by job seekers.
A resume that is relevant to a particular role or potential opportunity is the number one priority. Where you make a direct link between your background and a position via the resume you will substantially increase your chances of success. Tailor the resume to the criteria for the role through emphasizing key aspects of your background and the underlying competencies that make a direct connection between you and the requirements for the position. Sometimes it only requires subtle changes like emphasizing key roles you have held rather than a simple list of previous positions you have held.
Generally work in reverse chronological order when presenting your career history. Use appropriate headings and keep the most important details at the back of the resume. Remember HR practitioners, line managers and recruiters screen individual resumes within 10-30 seconds, so give priority to the most important points up front. The mark of a well structured resume is where the decision makers can assess you on the first page of your resume and treat the rest of the resume as supplementary reading.
Ensure that you use appropriate fonts, avoiding artistic typefaces and use bolding for headings. Use bullet points to outline responsibilities and achievements.
Use adjectives and verbs to create energy in your resume. Make sure what you write in a resume is supportable and can be validated at both interview and reference check stage.
A two to four page resume is usually acceptable to the marketplace.
Typical headings will include:
- Name, address and contact details.
- Employment history (keep it relevant, usually 10-20 years maximum, leaving no gaps).
- Key responsibilities of relevant roles.
- Major achievements (outcome focused).
- Training courses.
- Computer skills.
- Memberships (professional and social).
- Interests / hobbies.
Competency Based Resumes
These resumes differ from traditional resumes in that they break a person's career history down into areas of expertise or functionality rather than simply listing responsibilities against different working periods.
These resumes are most effectively used when your career background is diverse and not necessarily logically connected by way of the roles you have held, or when you are applying for a position outside of your background but there is a logical link in the competencies required for the role and your experience.
The competency based resume is usually 2-3 pages long, with a brief list of roles followed by the competencies summary. Remember, the essential point to resumes is to make them relevant to the opportunities you are working on at any one time.
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