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Copyright 2007

Top ten tips to resume writing for professionals

Unless you are going for a job through a contact, you are likely to require a resume. Of course, the prospective employer will receive many resumes for each job vacancy and towards the end of each school year.

The job of a resume is to get you into an interview; it will not get you the position, so you don’t need to include every detail as you will be able to expand on the resume in the interview.

So, you need your resume to say all the right things about you.

  1. Above all else, consider the basics: it must be typed, on decent paper, in order, spelt correctly and up-to-date. This all applies to the cover letter as well. Avoid anything that may be offensive or considered unprofessional or tacky; this is not the time to showcase your sense of humour or talent at cartoons.

Ensure your contact details are permanent and present professionally; for instance, choose an email address that is simple rather than cute or funny. Use the address of your parents or friends if you don’t have a stable home for the next few weeks.

  1. Set it out clearly and logically. Let each section lead onto the next and have headings to separate sections. Have space around and between the sections so it is easy to read and scan.
  2. Never assume knowledge in the reader, so include the details. Instead of writing “worked as an engineer for 6 months” write “worked at XYZ Company as an electrical engineer between 1/1/03 and 30/6/03.” Make it easy to understand and trust your information.
  3. Keep it relevant. Sure you may have worked as a supermarket cleaner as a teenager, but that won’t help you win a job as Accounting Supervisor as a thirty year old. Of course, new graduates may need to list such part time jobs until they gain more relevant experience.

If all qualified widget makers belong automatically to the widget guild, you needn’t mention it. However, if only selected widget makers are admitted, then it is worth mentioning – assuming widget making is related to the position you are applying for!

  1. Make it as short as possible – nobody wants to, or is likely to, read a long resume. If you can’t shorten it, consider a summary page with all contact details and a timeline of experience and qualifications. Alternatively or jointly, make sure the resume has clear sub headings so that the overall pattern can be seen and the detailed bits can be read if desired.
  2. Present the resume professionally. That is, avoid the use of:

Ø      fancy fonts that are hard to read

Ø      a mixture of fonts

Ø      italics and underlining, except for document titles and hyperlinks

Ø      pretty graphics – unless you are a graphic artist after a graphics position

Ø      chatty and casual sentences

  1. Describe the major tasks from each work experience listed, but do so briefly and in formal tones. For instance, “Assisted in research and analytical reports for mechanical engineering department” or “Lead a team of eight in a two year project to develop a new in-house software program.”
  2. Make your headings and job titles tell a story and then you’ll need less description. Describe your past experience as “Computerised Account Recorder” or “Sales and Service Manager for State X”, rather than “account clerk” or “Sales representative.”
  3. Qualify your tasks where this enhances your appeal. National Coordinator tells more than coordinator, as does “managed accounts for 1,000 suppliers” compared to “managed supplier accounts.”
  4. List your skills in terms of the benefit to an employer. Would you choose the person who has “worked on quality assurance issues” or who has “reduced costs by 20% in the human relations department”? Think about how your skills can benefit the employer and tell him or her!

 Ideally, your resume should be rewritten for each position you apply for. Thus, you can highlight the relevant parts for that employer – reorganise points so the most important is first and bold certain elements to stand out.

 Analyse each ad or company and tailor the resume and cover letter accordingly. Each employer has specific wants and needs for the position, so your resume must assure them that you can fill their criteria, and more.

Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see her site and services at www.wordconstructions.com




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