Here are a few basic resume writing tips to help get your resume to stand out above the rest:
1. Know the purpose of your resume:
Many people write a resume as if the purpose of the document were to land a job. As a result, they end up with a really long and boring resume that makes them look like a desperate job hunter. The objective of your resume is to land an interview. And the interview will land you the job (hopefully!).
2. Back up your qualities and strengths:
Instead of creating a long list with every single one of your qualities - for example: disciplined, creative, problem solver - try to connect these qualities with real life and work experiences. In other words, back up these qualities and strengths with examples or details, or else it can appear that you are just trying to inflate your skills.
3. Proofread it twice:
It is difficult to emphasize the importance of proofreading your resume. Proofreading is vital as one small typo could reduce your chances of getting hired. Proofreading it once is not enough. Do it twice, three times, or as many times as necessary. Another set of eyes can be beneficial so ask a friend to review it as well.
4. Place the most important information where it will be noticed first:
This point is important for the overall order of your resume, as well as to the individual sections. Relevant and previous work experience is often the most important part of your resume, so place it near the top. When describing your experiences or skills, list the most important ones first.
5. Use bullet points:
No employer has the time (nor patience) to read long paragraphs of text. Use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences, educational background, and professional objectives.
6. Achievements instead of responsibilities:
Resumes that include a long list of “responsibilities and tasks included…” are boring and get lost to the eye, which is not efficient nor effective when selling yourself. Instead of listing responsibilities, describe your professional achievements to show how you dealt with issues, or handled stress, utilized a skill, or overcame a problem.
7. Explain the benefits of your skills
Merely stating that you can do something will not catch the attention of a future employer. If you manage to explain "how" your skills and experience will benefit this potential employer / company, and to connect it to tangible results, then you will greatly improve your chances. For example, how you created efficiencies in the office, increased sales by a certain percentage, or collected outstanding payments in record time.
8. One resume for each employer:
One of the most common mistakes that applicants make is to create one standard resume which they attach for every job opening they can find that they may or may not be qualified for. Although it may save time to send one resume out to all employers, it may also greatly decrease the chances of landing an interview (so in reality it could even represent a 'waste of time'). Tailor your resume for each employer and position in order to present yourself as a candidate who is either directly qualified for the role, or who has transferable skills which could make it easier for you to learn the job - even if you haven't been placed in exactly the same position in the past. The same point applies to your cover letter - tailor it to fit the duties of the job description in the posting that you have handled or believe you can handle because of other experience or training. In this respect, you show the employer that you are taking the time to understand the posting and recognize the relevance to your own skills and how you can fit into the position.
9. No photographs
Unless you are applying for a job where the physical traits actually relate the role (e.g., modeling, acting, and so on), and unless the employer has specifically requested a photo, you should avoid attaching your photo to your resume. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on race, skin colour, gender, national origin, genetic characteristics, religion or age (see the Canadian Human Rights Act for more details).
10. Avoid negativity:
Do not include information that might sound negative in the eyes of the employer. This is valid both to your resume and during interviews. Don’t include, for instance, things that you hated about your last company, supervisor, or the job itself.