How Do I Write an Effective Resume?

A hand holding a pencil ready to write on lined paper.

Flickr user Brandi Redd

A good resume might be exactly the thing that will help you land your dream job. But, before we go into the talk on how to create a job-landing resume, let’s make one thing clear – what exactly is a resume?

By definition, a resume is a summary of your professional, education, and sometimes even personal experiences that showcase your abilities to the potential employer. How it differs from CV (curriculum vitae) is that it’s much shorter.

And this brings us to the most important thing about your resume – it needs to be concise. Otherwise, an impatient recruiter might give up on reading it.

Making a Resume that Won’t Put the Recruiter to Sleep

Your resume needs to be short, yet you mustn’t leave out any important details. The rule of thumb is that an ideal resume should not be longer than one page. This may sound too short, but trust us, most recruiters have no interest of reading your entire autobiography.

The attention span of people living in the 21st century is very short and you need to take advantage of that. If a resume is concise and effective, it’s bound to leave a strong impression on the recruiter. And they may then decide to ask you for more info about your personal life and career in the interview.

Crucial Information

Your resume needs to contain all the information the recruiter needs in order to decide whether you’re suitable for the position. So, make sure to leave out all the redundant information about yourself that has no value for them. For instance, if you’re applying for a job at a software development company, there really is no need to write much about your high school athletic achievements.

The things you need to focus on are your education, work experience, skills and certificates, spoken languages, and so on. Of course, if there’s still some room left once you’re done with the most important things, you can add some interesting trivia about yourself. We’re talking about your interests, hobbies, etc. Finally, you mustn’t forget to include your contact details so that the recruiter would have no problems getting in touch with you.

Choosing the Right Format

Although resumes come in all shapes and sizes, generally speaking, there are three most commonly used formats – chronological, skill-focused, and a combo of the two. Which one is the best depends on a number of factors, including your work experience and the type of job you’re applying for.

  • Chronological resume – Chronological resume format, that is, the reverse-chronological is ideal for job applications that are focused on your past  experience. For example, if you are applying for a barman role, you surely want your recruiter to know where you worked before.
  • Skill-focused resume – If you don’t have much work experience, a good trick is to focus on your skills instead. Make sure to mention all the official degrees and certificates you possess, but also mention the skills you believe you are good at.
  • Combination resume – This format is probably the most likely to land you the job, but in order to get the most of it, you need to have considerable work  experience, as well as a fair share of skills relevant for the job post.

Picking the Best Resume Layout

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – choosing an eye-catching resume layout is a way to ensure that the recruiter will not forget about you straight away. Furthermore, a good layout will present you in a good way, putting all your strengths in the spotlight.

The best thing is that you don’t have to pay big money to a professional designer in order to get hold of a resume with an attractive layout. On the contrary, you can find all kinds of resume templates online. Just make sure the one you choose isn’t too flashy, as that is something that can have a completely opposite effect.