A resume is an essential part of any job application, summarizing your experience and skills for review by a recruiter or hiring manager. When preparing a resume as a job seeker, it’s essential to know what information to include and what to omit. A functional resume should be concise and to the point, customized for the job you’re applying for, so here are our tips for writing your resume: what to consider when writing your resume.
Resumes and CVs: Know the Difference
While sometimes used interchangeably with CV, a resume summarizes your work experience, hard and soft skills, and other qualifications relevant to a particular job that you’re applying for. This document should only be one or two pages long.
However, an academic CV should include your educational qualifications and achievements, a complete publication history (if applicable), and work experience. This document should not have page restrictions; it includes everything about your background for a dean of admissions to examine.
Layout and Essential Information
Your resume should be easy to read. Recruiters and hiring managers have to read dozens, sometimes hundreds, of resumes in a relatively short time to find the best candidates. Your application will automatically stand out if you simplify the process by drafting a clean, professionally written, and concise document.
Remember, the way you structure your resume also demonstrates your attention to detail and how organized you are to a prospective employer. If your resume is cluttered or poorly formatted, that will signal to the recruiter or hiring manager that you don’t take your work seriously. There also shouldn’t be any errors in grammar or spelling, so ask someone to proofread it or run it through a spell-check program if you’re unsure.
The standard resume format will begin with your full name and contact information. This should include your email address, phone number, and street address (if applicable). You may also decide to include a brief description of yourself, such as titles or positions you’ve held and how many years of work experience you have.
If you need inspiration regarding the general layout of your resume, there are numerous templates online, including on Google Docs.
It’s typical for a resume to include your work experience. This information should be in a list of bullet points in chronological order, starting with your most recent positions. Include the date that you started each job and the date that you left. Below each position, provide a brief description of your work duties and achievements, if any. If you learned valuable skills or received accolades from your supervisor or employer, provide that information too.
When you have little to no relevant work experience, you can include internships, personal projects, or extracurricular activities you took part in during high school or college. Volunteer work can often demonstrate the necessary commitment and work ethic employers are looking for.
Hard and Soft Skills
You should include a relevant skills section, distinguishing between hard and soft skills. Hard skills are quantifiable, such as knowing how to operate Microsoft Word and Excel or speaking multiple languages fluently. Soft skills are not typically quantifiable but often necessary for effective communication, growth, and management, such as empathizing with colleagues or learning new skills.
If you’re currently learning a new skill or planning to, listing this can show a prospective employer that you take personal development seriously, which is important for your growth as an employee. Include any courses you’re currently enrolled in. It doesn’t have to be a course in a formal classroom setting; online courses also count.
Your cover letter should build on the information you include in your resume, expanding on individual skills and experiences to provide the hiring manager with a more detailed picture of your personality and background.
Education and Training
Below your work experience and skills, you can include a section outlining your educational credentials and achievements. If you have no formal education or your credentials are limited, that may not necessarily matter, depending on the job description. Some employers prioritize experience and skills over a four-year college degree.
However, this section should not be limited to traditional college qualifications. If you’ve received vocational training or attended classes at a tech college, list that information in this section. Non-academic technical training is critical to jobs in the manufacturing industries, among others.
Licenses and Certificates
If you are licensed or certified by either a state agency or state-approved organization to perform a trade, service, or operate specialized equipment, include that information in a separate section. Even if you don’t think the licenses and certificates you hold are immediately relevant to your position, it shows that you have a varied skillset and are qualified for various roles or tasks.
Hobbies and Interests
When drafting your resume, you should generally keep hobbies to a minimum unless they’re directly relevant to the job and provide a basis for hard or soft skills. If you’re applying to be an outdoor or travel writer, for example, your interests in hiking, camping, and fishing are relevant. However, your love of cooking and nature photography will not inform a recruiter or hiring manager’s decision for a data-entry position.
Optimize Your Resume for ATS
Most employers use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to improve the efficiency of the recruitment process. ATS software allows employers to reduce the applicant pool by scanning resumes for specific keywords. This can complicate your job search, which is why it’s essential to optimize your resume to meet the software’s eligibility requirements.
The keywords that the ATS software searches for are usually relevant to the position, so read the job description carefully. If the job description mentions specific skills, languages, or licenses, include those in your resume.
Include the job title in the application, too, if possible. Using the same phrasing as the job description will increase the chances of a match. Spell out everything, including abbreviations in parentheses.
Drafting Your Resume
At JobsFuel, we collect and organize information for job seekers, helping to boost your chances of landing a job that suits you best. Your resume is one of the most important parts of any job application, providing your prospective employer with a summary of your background, skills, publications, and education.
The information you include, the formatting, and the phrasing, affect whether the recruiter or hiring manager considers you a good match.