The pandemic has been hard on many.
According to Asia–Pacific Employment and Social Outlook 2020: Navigating the crisis towards a human-centred future of work estimates, the economic backlash of the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out some 81 million jobs in 2020.
In nearly all economies with available quarterly data for 2020, employment levels contracted compared to 2019.
The job market is flooded with resumes.
Due to increased demand and reduced supply, the 1-2 page resume that lists all your experiences, necessary skills and qualifications has become the deciding factor for being shortlisted.
A professional resume can/cannot ensure HR managers shortlist you, pick up the phone and call you for the interview.
A weak resume can keep you waiting for days and sometimes months to get a single response.
Then how do we make sure we are on that list?
We’ll find out all it takes to build a professional resume that gets you the HR call
In this step-by-step guide, I’ve listed points to help you build a professional resume and get you the much-needed HR call.
A step by step guide on pointers to build a professional resume-
- The format is important to choose the right layout
- Contact information and personal details are important so don’t forget to mention them
- A summary or objective that gives the complete picture before the details
- Your work experience and achievements are the keys to your landing the job so take time to list and highlight them
- Soft skills are as important as your technical skills so don’t ignore them
- You can always add sections to showcase your hobbies, volunteer experience, or any achievement outside the professional arena
- Customize the resume to highlight the aspects and requirements listed in the job description
- A covering letter to the resume is important
- Always proofread your resume and cover letter before submission
Now that we are clear with the steps let us elaborate and examine each point in detail:
Building a professional Resume- The Right Way!
How do you start building a resume?
A point to remember before you begin is- to avoid using a basic text editor, as formatting can take up a lot of time and any small change can set you back in terms of formatting.
Instead work with word processors like google docs, the MS-Word that most of us are comfortable with and are using regularly.
How to Pick the Right Resume Format?
There are quite a few formats available on which most of the resumes are built.
They are a reverse chronology, skills-based, and a combination of the two.
The choice of resume format depends on the kind of job and the experience level.
Let us understand the 3 resume formats better:
1) Reverse chronology resume – a popular format among people who have lots of work experience to showcase that is relevant to the job they are applying for.
You start with the recent work experience or skill and proceed backward.
2) Functional/skills-based resume– as a fresher with limited or no work experience this format is your best bet.
You can highlight the functional, technical, and soft skills in your resume that is a requirement for the job you are applying to
3) Combination resume– this resume format comes in handy for job seekers who are applying for a role that is not only diverse but requires you to showcase work experience and functional skills.
Generally, senior management roles have this kind of format as the candidate has to highlight work experience as well as the skills needed for the role.
So, which one should be your choice?
In most cases, the reverse chronology format is the popular choice.
Most HR managers also look for this kind of format so we will explore this in greater detail.
However, if you are a fresher or someone with a diverse portfolio of work you can adapt the points to the other two formats.
Let us next discuss the layout of the resume so what is the best resume layout?
Why is resume layout important? It is the first thing that is noticed by a recruiter.
Boring and easy to ignore or one that says I’m your candidate, long or short, organized or messy. What does your layout look like?
Best practices for a resume layout
Resume Layout – pointers that are a must
Single page length-Restrict your layout to a single page and go for two pages only if you feel there will be a value add.
Recruiters and HR managers go through 1000s of resumes per day and all that they look for in a single page that tells them they have a potential candidate.
So remember single-page layout is the best.
Clear and crisp section headings-Use a heading (H2 or H3 for example) and apply all the section headings.
White-space is important- Remember white space is as important as the written text in your layout.
This is to avoid the resume looking cluttered and messy, especially around the margins.
Easy-to-read font-Resumes are not the place to experiment with your artistic skills unless it’s a creative writing field.
Stick to fonts that are clear, legible, and easy to read.
Right font size matters- A font size that is neither too small nor too large.
E.g., for the text, you can choose font size 11 or 12 and the headings can be bigger say 14 or 16.
Use pdf- for the resume saving option as most recruiters ask for a pdf format.
However, you can also save it as a google doc and share the link with the recruiter if they are fine with it.
The next thing that one needs to consider is the template- a traditional or modern template.
There are enough free resources online that one can look at and download.
The template would depend on the career you are pursuing.
If you work in a bank, law firm, the university then the traditional template is a good choice.
However, if you work in a creative, tech/software company that is focused on imagination, creativity, innovation then the modern template is a good choice.
Now that we have looked at the format, layout, and template.
You also have a fair understanding on the kind of template you should pick based on the career choice.
Let us move to the most important aspect of the resume- Resume content
What should be my resume content?
Let us understand the essentials of resume writing:
We will start with the general outline of the sections and then understand each one in detail
Popular resume sections are:
- Contact Info
- Professional Summary/Objective
- Work Experience and accomplishments
- Skills- technical, soft skills
- Optional Sections – Languages known, volunteer experience Hobbies, etc.
Let us understand how to approach each section to create a stand-out resume that helps you get your deserving job of choice.
An important section in the resume as it helps HR managers get in touch with you.
Be sure to include contact details that you have access to so that you do not miss out on the communication.
Check the email I’d spellings and all the other information you have included to ensure there are no spelling errors.
Else you might miss out on the chance of HR managers trying to get in touch with you.
Points covered in the Contact Information
A Must-have Information
- First Name / Last Name.
- Phone Number.
- Email Address.
- Place of stay/Location – are you located in the area, or will the company have to sponsor relocation?
- Professional title– either your current or the job you are applying to
- LinkedIn profile link – if you have a LinkedIn profile that you feel can add value, then you should include it
- Social Media – if you have a personal blog/ website or if you contribute to any forum you can include links under contact info.
Avoid the following in the Contact Info Section
- Date of Birth – unless specified do not include the date of birth as it is irrelevant.
- Mentioning an unprofessional Email Address – yes: email@example.com No: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (you get the idea right!!)
- Photo – most of them mention that a photo should be included as a part of the resume but it is ok to avoid it and leave the HR manager to know how you look like at the interview
Good to continue…..
Professional Summary or Objective
A very old quote that almost every one of us has heard- “the first impression is the last “.
May not be true but I’ve realized over time that the first impression has a lasting impression so it matters whether personal or career.
It is difficult to change perceptions once formed.
The HR manager or recruiter generally spends a few seconds say 6-7 to scan a resume so your resume should make those 6 seconds matter and leave a lasting impression.
It can be achieved through the summary or objective as it is placed right at the top of your resume close to the contact info.
These pointers should help you to start on how to build your professional resume .
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