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As a HR Manager, I have seen hundreds of resumes come across my desk. Here are my top tips to writing a resume that will help you cut through the competition and lead to an all-important interview.

Keep it Simple

HR Managers get many resumes to look at for any new position.  A well set out, well-spaced simple resume where all the information is easy to find and understand, will maximise your chance of going on the ‘read’ pile.  I have seen resumes rejected simply because they were too hard to read; that applicant never got the chance to put their case forward for the job.

All resumes should have the following headings

  • Name and contact details
    • Bold your name
    • Include email address and phone number so you are easily contactable
  • A short summary emphasising your strengths
    • See tailoring below
    • Limit this to a couple of sentences only
  • Key knowledge, skills and attributes
    • Include both soft and hard skills
  • Education and training
    • Most recent qualifications first
    • Emphasise those qualifications that meet the employers need
  • Experience
    • Most recent first

Your resume should be no more than two pages.  If it is too long, it will go into the too hard basket and will not be read.

Attention to Detail

Get the spelling and grammar right.  I have seen resumes where the applicant wrote they had great attention to detail and spelled attention incorrectly. Instant fail.

Even simple things like even spacing and not having a heading at the very end of a page will make a difference to how your resume is perceived.

Tailoring

You should have a “base resume” that you use but that base should always be tailored for the role you are seeking.  Carefully examine the job advertisement and determine what knowledge, skills and attributes (KSA) the role is seeking.  You should then emphasis your ability to address those KSA.  If you determine you have none of the required KSA, then maybe that role is not really for you.

Cover Letters

I personally like a cover letter. It is your chance to thank the HR Manager for the opportunity to apply and to emphasise any key message you want to get across.  Your cover letter should never be generic.  It should always reference the role you are going for and why you are the best person for the job.

Lastly, your social media accounts

Many HR Managers, myself included, will review the social media accounts of applicants they are interested in moving forward with. You should cull anything that is “out there”, offensive or divisive, prior to making an application.  I have lost count of the number of applicants I have rejected when it was apparent, through their social media, that they would not be a good cultural fit for an organisation.

 

I hope these suggestions are helpful.  I am very happy to chat with you about your resume and can even take a look to offer some suggestions.

 

David Kirkby – General Manager OPEC College

[email protected]

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