To resume by definition means to begin to do or pursue again. And, that is essentially what you are hoping to do when you begin to write a résumé – to begin or pursue a job or an internship.
The purpose of a résumé is to market yourself. What you are aiming for is to be employable by tailoring your skills to the job you are applying for. From the right education to the right qualifications, you are matching your experiences and skills to the job.
Though you may spend hours perfecting the one-pager, an average employee takes about 5-10 seconds looking at a résumé so you only have a few seconds to make an impression.
When it comes to the technicalities of a résumé, it is important to include the following: your name and your contact details, which include email, LinkedIn profile, and phone number. These are key and should be on the top of your résumé.
Excluding your title and details, a résumé typically involves five sections: your technical and language skills, work experience, education, awards and achievements, and volunteer, leadership and activities. For each of these parts, ensure that everything you put on there matters.
Before we get into the five sections, there is a little controversy over whether or not to add an objective or personal statement into your résumé. It is up to your discretion but if you are relatively new to the job search market, lack work experience, are changing industries, or targeting a specific job or position, then perhaps it may work for you. If you are writing a personal statement, make sure your key skills and personal attributes all respond to the needs of the role and are based on the job ad (if there was one).
The first and second section of the résumé can be tricky. If you are a student, your education goes first, but if you are 2-3 years out of university or college, employees tend to focus on work experience rather than your degree. This is something that you could check with your employer prior to applying. In your education section, make sure to include the name of the institution and your degree. A GPA above 3.7 on a 4.0 scale is worth adding, plus any other honorary qualifications such as honors or cum laude.
Now for the meat of your résumé, your work experience. According to Youth Central, “the most important thing is to get the most useful information across first.” As mentioned earlier, if your education history is not specifically related to the job, put it toward the end of your résumé, behind the information that is related to the job.
For each work experience, a clear 30-40 word description in past tense of what you did and how goes a long way rather than just stating “Project Manager.” For instance, something short and sweet like this: “Managed and oversaw a 3 week consulting project, involving a business plan that assessed XX company’s current and new internal controls by restructuring employment methods.” Not only does this explain to your employer what you did and how but also showcases your ability to concisely convey the role. Your writing matters and must be error-free.
As for the volunteer leadership and activities roles; this is where you have more room to showcase who you are outside of work and studies. The things you do that make you, you. Keeping it simple is key as well as making sure you are not overselling yourself. For instance, if you are the president of a society for three clubs, focus on the one that you do the most for and flaunt that instead of spreading yourself too thin. You also want to make sure that these roles you are in are relevant to the job you are applying for, otherwise, it just takes up space.
The fourth section is the awards and achievements part of your resume. Here is where you shine. Nothing too detailed needed but simply the name of the award or achievement and perhaps a few words on why or how you obtained it.
The last section is critical because it’s your technical and language skills. This is where you can add any certifications you have, any software skills you know, and all the languages you speak. Some employees jump to the end of the resume just to see if you have a particular skills they are looking for. A hint: Reread the job description to find out what skills they need and want and do your best to meet the requirement. For instance, if you are applying for a technical role, writing down that you are capable of using softwares such as Java or HTML could help you get the job. If you already know it, they do not have to teach it to you. It’s less work for them and a plus for you.
Last but not least, proof your resume. Be sure to thoroughly edit your resume before sending it. Check for grammar and spelling errors, as well as any style inconsistencies, which includes tenses. Overall, don’t forget that you are marketing yourself!