One of the most vital documents in anyone’s possession is their resume or CV. It serves as both a record of past achievements and a marketing tool to showcase your potential. Strangely, many of us often neglect the task of updating it properly. Throughout the years, I’ve come across a vast number of CVs that clearly appeared to be unchanged legacy documents with new job entries tacked onto the top. Alternatively, they were freshly created files using template software – abundant in graphics but lacking in substance.
Irrespective of your background, level of seniority, or industry, there are certain fundamental principles to adhere to when crafting your CV:
#1. Keep your resume concise, ideally under four pages.
Recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers are all pressed for time and often have to sift through dozens, if not hundreds, of CVs daily. A lengthy CV can be overwhelming and discouraging, leaving two negative initial impressions: either you couldn’t be bothered to edit your resume properly, or you lacked the awareness that such extensive documents are inappropriate.
#2. Ensure your resume is visually clear and legible.
It’s astonishing how many resumes assault the reader with an array of typefaces, font colors, font effects (like shading, bold, underline), graphics, and more. A well-written document with a clean presentation is far more effective than trying to grab attention with visual elements. This doesn’t mean you can’t have some variety, but it’s essential to maintain consistency and effectiveness. From my experience, it works well to use bold for highlighting companies and dates, and italics for job titles, or vice versa.
Bullet points can be circles, stars, numbers, or dashes, but they should remain consistent throughout your document.
#3. Include pertinent information on your resume.
Begin with your employment history, listing the companies and the respective dates of employment. Follow this with your job titles and the corresponding dates you held those positions. Subsequently, detail the most significant responsibilities and achievements for each role. If your role was unconventional or obscure, providing a brief description of the job’s nature may be helpful.
Incorporate details such as your reporting line (supervisor), interactions with internal and external stakeholders, and any awards or recognition received.
Additionally, include numerical data such as the number of staff managed, budgets overseen, sales generated, accounts acquired, improvements in brand awareness, cost savings, and more.
You’re not obligated to include internships, volunteer work, or pre-college or during-college jobs. However, consider including some of these experiences if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
#4. Review and Roleplay
After creating your resume, I suggest engaging in two straightforward roleplay exercises:
First, cover up your name on the resume and imagine it belongs to your friend Lincoln, seeking your advice. How do you feel about the resume’s appearance? Does it convey essential information clearly? Would you recommend it?
Second, cover your name again and envision you are in the position to hire for your team, with the resume being an applicant’s. Would you hire this individual based on the resume? Does it highlight the skills and experiences you’d expect from a potential interviewee?
Creating a resume often induces stress, mainly due to the discomfort of self-promotion. It’s remarkable how clarity emerges when you pretend the document isn’t about you.
We hope these tips prove valuable as you work on your own resume.