There are many different theories and ideas out there about what makes a good resume vs. a great resume. If you do a Google search on how to write a resume you will be inundated with suggestions- some good and yet other advice you have to be cautious about. However, there are certain best practices that almost all resume writers and HR professionals agree on. Below is a list of some of the most common best practices that should be used and/or omitted from your resume:
1) Resume Design: available today are many pre-set templates that you can use to create your resume. Depending on the source of these templates they can be a good choice if you cannot afford a reputable resume writer who will customize a one-of-a-kind template for you. In general however, it is recommended that you create your resume from scratch. With so many people applying to any one job it is only expected that the HR personnel responsible for looking over your resume will get bored if they see the same design template over and over. If you truly want to set yourself apart from your competition, it is advised that you create a one-of-a-kind resume template and design.
2) Page Length: this is still debatable, but the true consensus among all my colleagues seems to be that 1 to 2 pages are sufficient. Sometimes 3 pages may be required depending on the industry and position, but you should avoid going over 3 pages at all costs. If you must, you can attach a separate portfolio to showcase additional qualifications. But 1 to 2 pages should be enough space to highlight your value proposition and most recent/relevant career history.
3) Qualifications Summary vs. Objective Statement: at one time an objective statement would be suitable for a resume, but this is in the past. Today, employers are looking for someone that meets their needs. They don’t really care about what you want from them; they want to know how you are qualified for the job that you are applying to. Basically, your resume needs to be treated like a marketing brochure or document. You need to sell your services to the employer, not the other way around. Tell the employer in your qualifications summary why they should hire you!
4) SMART accomplishment statements: these can be referred to as CAR, SAR or SMART statements. In the end, they mean the same thing. Gone are the days of simply stating your duties, now you need to highlight what you accomplished for the employer in a SMART manner. You need to find accomplishments in each position that are specific and measurable, and then you need to explain the action and/ or result of your accomplishment. Everyone knows what a Customer Service Representative’s duties are, now is your chance to tell an employer why you were the best Customer Service Representative for your company!
5) Language: it is good practice to avoid the use of personal pronouns, such as “I”, “my”, and “we” on your resume. In addition, do not use slang or abbreviations that are not understood in your industry. If you must use an abbreviation you should explain what the abbreviation stands for the first time you use that abbreviated term in the resume; followed by the abbreviation thereafter.
6) Non-relevant data: Years ago people use to put their hobbies and interests at the end of their resume. This should be omitted unless it is relevant to your industry. Instead, use the space to highlight additional skills and competencies that set you apart from your competition.
These are just a few best practices that you should be aware of the next time you go to write your resume. Advice is bountiful on the internet but generally, most employers tend to agree that a resume needs to be clear and to the point. Answer the question: “why should we hire you” on your resume and you are destined to get that interview!
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