The resume is often the first contact a prospective employer or recruitment consultant has with any candidate. This is your opportunity to quickly gain their interest, display your experience, qualifications and skills whilst retaining their attention. Below are a number of tips on building a resume that will gain and retain interest and provide all the relevant details whilst remaining brief. (It is also worth noting that if you are responding directly to a specific job advertisement, the importance of a covering letter highlighting particular aspects of your resume is often a valuable addition to your application.)

Personal information

  • Name and all contact details (including mobile numbers and e-mail addresses)

  • Educational history and qualifications (including professional qualifications)

  • Industry/training courses

  • Memberships/Associations

  • Other languages (spoken and/or written)

  • Hobbies/interests

There is no requirement to include information about your age, marital/parental status or religion.

Employment experience/history

  • Name of employer. It is often useful to include information on the company by describing its structure, size, industry and market positioning. Make reference to the division or department that you worked in

  • Position title

  • Location

  • Dates of employment. List the month and year that you commenced and ceased employment

  • Responsibilities. This should cover the duties and purpose of your previous position(s) as well as whom you reported to or who reported to you

  • A brief snapshot of your major achievements is a suitable means of illustrating how you added value to the organisation and what you can offer to prospective employers

  • Include information on career promotions, positive feedback/reviews and particular projects you were involved in

References and referees

Employers and recruitment consultants attach a significant degree of importance to impartial testimonials from previous employers and people who know candidates well. This assists in further strengthening their understanding of the candidate and further assessing the suitability of the individual for the role and the organisational culture fit.

  • Compile a list of three referees, include their name, position, telephone number and indicate what your association or relationship is. Inform your referees of the particular position you have applied for and its requirements and let them know that someone will be contacting them to gain a reference

Top ten resume tips

  1. Eliminate 'typos', spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Ask someone you trust to proof read it for you.

  2. Make a good first impression, you have a limited amount of 'initial interest time', use it wisely.

  3. Keep it brief. Few people have time to read a 20-page resume, be efficient with your information. A six page resume is often sufficient

  4. Focus your resume on your most recent experience, keep it brief for anything over 10-15 years.

  5. Quantify experience and achievements with facts and figures to show how you performed against specific targets, timelines or KPI's.

  6. Give the employer a chance to see your written communication skills in terms of being organised, logical and concise.

  7. Use simple language; do not try to impress employers with exorbitant or elaborate vocabulary.

  8. Be honest, nothing turns an interview sour more quickly than the uncovering of exaggeration or the stretching of the truth on resumes.

  9. Be balanced, neat and structured. Make it easy on and appealing to the eye.

  10. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Emphasise previous wins, promotions and rare skill sets, make yourself very difficult to disregard.