Tips on Writing an Effective Resume

What is a resume exactly?

A resume is a short account that includes information about your career, education and employment history. Typically, you have to prepare one to apply for different job positions. It gives your potential employer valuable information to evaluate if you are the right person for the job. Your resume is your direct marketing tool and as such, you need to highlight your strengths and make yourself stand apart from the rest of the applicants.

Always remember that your potential employer will get a picture of you both from the information on your resume and also for the style and format it presents.

Resume styles

Basically, there are three resume styles or formats:
  • Chronological: the most recent job is presented first and the rest of your employment history is in reversed chronological order.
  • Functional: also known as skills-based resume, it emphasizes your skills, abilities and accomplishments rather than providing detailed information on when and where you acquired them.
  • Automated or scannable: formatted to be scanned by a computer and entered in a database which will later be searched by keyword. This type of resume is generally used by larger employers.

When should you use each style?

A chronological resume is better for candidates with an impressive employment history, one that shows development within a specific career field. Employers tend to prefer chronological resumes because they are easy to read and review.

The functional resume is the ideal style if you are a recent college graduate, if you have little work experience, if there are significant gaps in your employment history and if you want to pursue a career change.

You should use the automated or scannable resume, especially if you are sending it via e-mail. Usually it’s a good idea to ask your potential employer whether resumes are scanned.

Get organized before starting

Gather all the information you need on previous jobs (names of employers and dates of employment) and do some research on your potential employer. In this way you will be better prepared to match your skills and experience with what the employer is looking for.

Creating your resume

Once again, remember that your resume is a direct marketing tool and that the product you are offering is yourself, so you need to gather as much information as possible on your skills, abilities, education and experience. Typically, you can arrange this information under three headings:

  • Work experience: trace back your employment history as far as possible.
  • Education: courses you took, years you studied, certificates you obtained and honors/awards received.
  • Skills: describe them with action words that emphasize your strengths.

Resume tips

  1. It would be better if another person reads your resume and points out errors. Ask for help from online resume writing services if you are not sure about your resume.
  2. Always keep your resume short, down to one or two pages.
  3. Leave out irrelevant information, for example personal data such as ethnic group, marital status, date of birth, etc.
  4. Do not include a photograph unless specifically required.
  5. Do not include the contact information of your previous employers. Offer to provide this information upon request.
  6. When you cover the Work experience area, try to keep it relevant to the job position you are seeking.
  7. Always type your resume on a computer and use high-quality paper, either white or ivory.
  8. Avoid using the personal pronoun “I”.
  9. Use a word processor to avoid spelling mistakes and edit your resume for grammar, punctuation and capitalization mistakes.
  10. Use an easy-to-read font and bullet points to effectively draw your potential employer’s attention.
  11. Show your resume to friends and family members and ask them for their opinion. Be prepared to accept positive criticism.
  12. Do not include salaries or the reasons why you left previous jobs.
  13. Always keep your resume updated.
  14. Prepare a compelling cover letter to introduce your resume.