How to Write a Resume – Top 10 Tips

Article by Belinda Fuller

A Resume is a document that details your work history and key skills. Whilst it should always be factual and not contain exaggerations, it is essential to demonstrate value to your future employer. My top ten tips on how to write a Resume are:

1. Summarise Your Career – a Career Profile provides a quick overview of you – a preview of your resume written to entice the reader further. It should be the first thing the reader sees, no longer than two paragraphs – and include a mixture of your professional success, academic/industry training, together with any relevant personal attributes.

2. List Key Skills at the front so a recruiter could read just page one of your resume and understand whether you’re a potential candidate. This part of the resume is the easiest (and most relevant) area to customise and is the section that could make the difference in getting noticed. Try not to simply state you have a skill – demonstrate how you have it – i.e. if you mention supervising teams – state how many people and/or what they accomplished. If you manage budgets, indicate values. Put each skill into context and help the reader understand the size, scope or complexity of your expertise.

3. Detail Your Job History – list the jobs held in reverse chronological order beginning with most recent. Include job title, company name, start and finish dates, responsibilities and achievements. Don’t list every task – instead include key responsibilities that demonstrate the role’s scope and focus the detail around achievements. In terms of how far to go back, 10 years is usually enough.

4. Focus on Achievements – include at least two or three achievements for each role – more if you can. Tangible achievements are first priority, but also think about projects you’ve contributed to, collaboration with colleagues, extra responsibilities taken on, new processes you initiated, customer accolades received or major targets exceeded. Think about where you went above and beyond – chances are, recruiters will consider these achievements.

5. Fill Gaps – recruiters don’t like mysteries so if you have been out of the workforce it is preferable to explain the gap rather than leave it blank.

6. Education, Training and Accreditation – include your relevant formal education, professional development, short training, certificate courses, and licences. Unless you are a recent graduate, there is no need to list High School or mention subjects studied – however if you received honours, distinctions or any special awards you could mention it. If you are currently studying – indicate when you expect to finish.

7. Professional Memberships & Affiliations – these demonstrate commitment and dedication to your career, and can provide good networking opportunities. Include the organisation and level of affiliation as well as an indication of how long you’ve been associated.

8. Referees – there is no need to include names and contact details (although you can if you wish), or copies of written references. It is acceptable to simply state “available upon request”.

9. Include Enough Detail to sell yourself without rambling. A standard resume is three to five pages – anything longer and you’ve included too much history or gone back too far – remember 10 years is adequate. If you want to showcase highly relevant experience older than 10 years, include a section called “Relevant Experience”.

10. Include Prominent Contact Details – this seems obvious, but many resumes don’t include contact details in an obvious spot. Include full name, address, phone, mobile and email address at the front (top) of the document, then add your name and email and/or phone in a footer on each page. Make it easy for a recruiter to contact you.

A well written Resume will not get you the job – that’s up to you to achieve at the interview. However, it will help you secure the all important interview. If you follow these tips, you’ll write a Resume that helps recruiters make the all important decision about whether or not that happens.

If you are interested in getting assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application, please see our CV and Resume Writing Services.