Writing a Resume: The Basics
An employer can shuffle through hundreds of job applications every day. How do you make sure yours stands out?
Writing a resume is the first step to landing your dream job. In a work setting, it’s how you represent yourself—even before you speak to an employer, they often want to have a look at your qualifications. Not only is it important to advertise your best assets, but you have to tailor each application to fit the job you’re looking at.
A standard resume consists of a Header (name, address, and contact information), Objective (a sentence explaining your career goal), and a variety of headings citing your Experience: education, past work and volunteer positions, skills, awards, and anything else you think is important to mention.
Beyond that, the way you structure your resume is up to you. That being said, you should keep a couple of things in mind the next time you’re pulling together an application.
Be adaptable. Imagine what your employer is looking for and think of skills you have that fulfill their expectations. Your resume should reflect the position you’re trying to obtain and why you’re the best candidate for the job. However, make sure you include only relevant information (e.g. if you’re applying for tutoring, you probably don’t need to mention that you can use a band saw).
Be clear and concise. Your resume shouldn’t be longer than a page (beyond that, the employer’s likely to stop reading anyway). Requests for references often vary from job to job, but you can put these on a separate page if needed. And of course, make your resume easy to follow: avoid long sentences, embellished fonts, or extremely elaborate vocabulary.
Be creative. Don’t be afraid to switch it up a little—especially in fields like art and design, which often leave their “resume” component open to interpretation. Sometimes a portfolio or even a video can impress an employer. For jobs with stricter requirements, you can still be flexible with your headings and layout if you want to make an impression. Just make sure you’re striking a balance between being imaginative and being understood.
Be sincere. It might seem difficult to express your abilities through your resume. Be careful if you feel tempted to exaggerate your talents. Sometimes this works, but if you get called back for an interview, be prepared to justify all that you’ve written. More importantly, why would you want a job that you can only pretend to be good at? You should appear to be “the better version of yourself”, not someone else entirely.
No application is perfect, but with practice you’ll find the resume style that works for you. Keep a copy with you the next time you’re going to school or running an errand: you never know where your next job will come from. Good luck!