Writing the perfect resumé is difficult to pin down for most of us. What format should you use? How do you put your best foot forward to show you’re the right candidate for the job? What will make your resumé stand out from the hundreds landing on the hiring manager’s desk? These are just some of the many questions that plague professionals looking for their first job or seasoned employees who want to make a career change. In this article, we will help you build your perfect resumé by using the best CV practices according to HR experts.

Your Resumé

A great job starts with a great resumé. Your resumé is your two-minute elevator pitch to potential employers where you showcase your skills, experience, educational background, and accomplishments. These tell the HR manager reviewing candidate applications whether you’re a good fit for the company and possess the skills they are looking for to fill that position.

Types of Resumés

You can use different formats to lay out your information, and choosing the right format is just as important as the content of the resumé.

  • Reverse chronological: This is the most common resumé format and showcases your work experience first and then tells the story of your work history and skills. This format is best suited for people with years of work experience behind them, which is also relevant to the position being applied for.
  • Functional resumé: This style directs focus to your skills, thus making it the ideal format to use for those who are highly skilled but have little in the way of work experience.
  • Combination resumé: As the name suggests, this format is a combination of both the functional and reverse-chronological formats. It focuses on an individual’s skills and work experience.

In choosing which format to go with, you should consider your skills, work experience, and which of these the hiring company is looking for.

Best CV Practices

So, where do you start with writing a resumé? And how can you write the perfect resumé that will result in an invitation for an interview if you don’t know what hiring managers are looking for? We’ve gathered expert insights into best practices for creating your resumé.

1. Use a Template

HR managers see lots of resumés daily. You need yours to stand out from the rest and using a basic Word template won’t make the cut. For the best result, you may want to take advantage of the thousands of free resumé templates available on Alison and select one that best fits the job you’re applying for.

2. Watch Your Words

When building your resumé, you need to be mindful of the words you use. You want to neither use too few words that don’t give a comprehensive account of your skills. And you don’t want to submit a 5-page resumé with needless information. Check that your resumé is devoid of mistakes and that it has a professional tone.

3. Customise Your Resumé

A customised resumé is an attractive resumé. Hiring experts highly recommend customising your resumé for every job you apply for. This is because each job has specific tasks, keywords, and skills they are looking for. A copy-and-paste resumé is easy to spot and tells the recruitment manager that you aren’t willing to take the time to present your best to them. Although this can be time-consuming, it holds a greater chance of reaping rewards than a one-size-fits-all resumé.

4. Keep it Short

Include only relevant information in your resumé. This states your work experience and skills related to the position you’re applying for. Being the captain of your debate team in high school holds no bearing on your application to be a mechanic. Limit your resumé to a maximum of two pages. Any more than that, and you risk losing the attention of the reader.

5. Use Keywords

The most important thing HR managers look for in resumés is keywords. Job adverts contain specific keywords that list exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate. If you add these words to your resumé, you present yourself as a good fit for the job. Experts suggest not going overboard with all the skills you have, but instead, focus on the ones the company is looking for to increase your chances of getting the job.

6. Make it Easy to Read

Recruitment managers don’t have the time to spend reading paragraphs detailing your value and skillset. It’s best to write your resumé in bullet points because it makes reading and drawing out key information about you easier. They also recommend you use an action word to start every bullet point.

7. Provide a Summary

Introduce your resumé with a strong summary about who you are and what value you will bring to the organisation, how your background relates to the company values and goals, and outline, using key metrics, your achievements. A good summation of your skills starts you off on the right footing because it informs and outlines what the rest of your resumé will include.

8. Optimise your Resumé for APT

An APT, or applicant tracking system, is a tool used by most hiring professionals to weed out undesirable candidates. This software is designed to process, filter, scan, rate, rank, and search resumés to determine if the applicant meets their criteria. It’s imperative for you as a potential applicant to ensure your resumé doesn’t slip through the cracks. You can do this by paying attention to format and font sizes, listing keywords, and ensuring your resumé is personalised to the position.

9. Proofread

Mistakes do happen, but they can be costly. Once you’ve built your resumé, review it with fresh eyes to check for grammatical errors, typos, and other inconsistencies. You can also share it with a trusted friend or colleague for their input and use editing tools like Grammarly before submitting it to the business.

Top Skills Every Resumé Should Have

A well-rounded Resumé should showcase a mix of technical expertise and soft skills. Communication skills demonstrate your ability to convey ideas effectively, while adaptability and problem-solving exhibit your capacity to navigate challenges. Strong teamwork and collaboration highlight your aptitude for working harmoniously in diverse environments. Employers also value critical thinking for its role in making informed decisions. Take Alison’s free Aptitude Test to assess your verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning skills and show prospective employers how you compare with others. Course recommendations will help you improve in your areas of weakness. Lastly, technical skills pertinent to the job, such as coding languages or software proficiency, are crucial in illustrating your practical qualifications.

  1. Communication: Effectively conveying ideas and information through written and verbal means.
  2. Problem Solving: Analysing complex issues and devising creative solutions.
  3. Teamwork: Collaborating seamlessly within diverse groups to achieve common goals.
  4. Adaptability: Demonstrating flexibility and resilience in evolving work environments.
  5. Critical Thinking: Evaluating situations and making informed decisions based on logic and reasoning.
  6. Time Management: Efficiently organising tasks and prioritizing work to meet deadlines.
  7. Leadership: Guiding and inspiring others to achieve objectives and deliver results.
  8. Attention to Detail: Ensuring accuracy and precision in tasks, projects, and documentation.
  9. Technical Proficiency: Mastery of relevant tools, software, and technical skills specific to your field.
  10. Customer Service: Providing exceptional support and satisfaction to clients and customers.

It’s important to remember that crafting a resumé isn’t just for those entering the job market. If you’re switching companies or simply want to make a lateral move within your current company, you need to ensure you submit a resumé that sets you apart and not rely on your years in the company to secure you the position.

Take advantage of Alison’s free and easy-to-use Resumé Builder tool to create a professional resumé, in minutes, that will get you hired and promoted faster.

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