How to write a winning resumé

Human resource managers receive many resumés when they are recruiting. In some cases, they have to look through hundreds in order to find the right candidates to interview for their organizations. For your resumé to get noticed among the pack, you will need to make sure it is representing you and your skills and experience in a short, to-the-point way with as many relevant elements to the job you are applying for.

Why Study for an MBAThe idea is to make your resumé attractive to a potential employer by showing you in the best possible light and reflecting your suitability for the position you are applying for.

Include:

  • Your full name, phone number, postal address, and e-mail address. If possible, create a specific professional sounding email address for your job hunting activities.
  • Your actual work experience, which should include internships, extracurricular activities, and significant volunteer work.
  • Your relevant and transferable skills. Don’t include skills that are not relevant to the role for which you are applying and give details of those skills that do match the role.
  • Your educational qualifications, along with appropriate dates for each completed school, college and post-graduate course.
  • Details of any academic and professional recognitions and awards you have.

Over-long and over-detailed resumés don’t fare well with busy HR directors or recruiters. Two-page or even a single-page format will give you the best chance with employers. Focus on short bullet point accounts of your career to date. This information can be either in chronological or functional format. With a chronological format, start with your earliest job and work up to the latest you have held, so that the latest job appears first on your resumé. Using a functional format means that your qualifications and experience are collated under specific headings. Your resumé does not have to mention your personal interests and pastimes, unless these are directly related to your chosen career path.

Details of your extra-curricular activities should profile:

  • Any value-adding skills you have gained through a work environment that increase your suitability to the role.
  • Any experience and qualifications you have gained in a non-work environment that are relevant to the role.

Employers with a wide range of candidates to choose from for interviews will give preference to those with the most relevant and appropriate professional experience. Temporary jobs that are relevant to the job you are applying for should be included as temporary work could give you an edge in interviews. It proves that you have had work experience and have been exposed to different work cultures. Many employers also value any evidence of higher social awareness in prospective employees. If you have had a chance to work for a charitable organization, mention the fact with relevant details in your resumé. Your resumé should be formatted in a simple, professional manner.

Gimmicky resumés may sound like a good idea at the time, but many employers don’t appreciate that level of humor or individuality at the stage when they are simply matching resumés to a job description to decide on who to interview. Unless asked to do so, don’t provide a photo attached to your resumé. Make sure you provide relevant information as easily and as quickly as possible. Group your qualifications, experience, etc. under direct subheads and keep them short.

What if you are overqualified for a position?

You may have an excellent career record as well as additional qualifications that would make the average job seeker jealous. But how do you avoid being seen simply as 'overqualified' for the job you are applying for? Here are some tips to ensure your resumé works for you.

You have worked hard to gain additional skills and qualifications and are now looking for your ideal job. How do you avoid being labelled as overqualified for some positions?

First of all, it can be hard to accept that you have been turned down for a position because you were overqualified. But it does happen. Sometimes companies think that overqualified people accept a job simply because they just want to be employed and take home a paycheck, but will eventually leave when they find something better. Recruiting staff costs companies in time and money, in terms of advertising, agency costs, interviewing, training new staff, inductions and so on. For new recruits to then go and leave after a few months means a huge unrecoverable outlay. Looking at the recruitment process from a company's perspective, you can see that their concerns about overqualified staff can be legitimate. But this doesn't mean that overqualified people should have less of a chance to get a good job. By being smart on your application and with some careful editing of your resumé, you can ensure that you are considered for all positions you apply to.

Limit your aspirations on your resumé

You may dream of eventually becoming the CEO or being a successful entrepreneur with your own company in the future, but for the time being, you are looking for a job! You don’t have to forgo your aspirations, just limit how you demonstrate them on your resumé. If you have included a personal profile section on your resumé, make sure it reflects the actual job description of the role you are applying for and doesn’t mention your ‘five year plan for world domination’ but instead gives the employer the impression that this is the job you have been looking for all along.

Mention specific achievements

For certain roles, your resumé must reflect the actual position in order for the employer to ‘see’ you in the job. If you have an impressive list of achievements that could overshadow those required for the role, edit them down to include just the most relevant and specific.

Focus on including work-specific points that are requirements for the position you are applying for. In order to do this properly you will have to research the job well and be prepared to write a customized resumé for each job you are applying for.

Add only relevant work experience

Your resumé needs to be a flexible and adaptable living document in order for you to amend or edit it in accordance with the requirements of each position, but this will ensure that you are providing key information to enable the prospective employer to consider you.

Make sure you don’t leave any gaps in your work history though. You can do this by just including the name of the organization that you were working for and the dates, without going into details about the role itself. This will show the company that there are no gaps in your employment chronology.

Highlight only the required academic qualifications

Again, make sure you are fully aware of the expectations of the role and the level of qualifications required to  fulfill it. You may have a post-graduate qualification in business but if this isn’t a requirement of the job you are applying for, then you may need to leave the details off your resumé. 

Customize your cover letter

A properly worded cover letter is essential in any job application process in order to allow you the opportunity to highlight the areas on your resumé that you want to point the hiring company to look at. If your resumé is your advertisement, then your cover letter is a big shiny arrow pointing to bits of it that you want people to read. Therefore you need to consider carefully what your cover letter says, not only about you, but your understanding of the role and your suitability for it.

In basic terms, the letter needs to tell them that you want the job and why. What is it about your experience, skills, and talent that make you the right person for the role? You can also include a statement to the effect that you would be looking for a long-term career with the organization, and can see yourself with the company in 2 to 5 years from now. Your cover letter needs to remove any doubt from the employer's mind that you are just settling for this position because you could not find anything better.

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I see resumes all day long…but the students and graduates from Santa Barbara Business College stand out from those piles of resumes I receive.

- Laura, HR Director, Fusion Contact Center (Santa Maria)

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