The main purpose of a resume is to get you invited to a interview.

It is in essence a marketing document that is a summary of a job seekers work experience, skill sets and academic qualifications. It is used by individuals to apply for jobs with the aim of securing new employment.

Recruiters have to often look through stacks of resumes to find the one they are after. Hiring managers are short on time and patience, they typically take less than 30 seconds to scan a resume and make a decision. Therefore it’s important that the information in your resume is organized in a way that is easy for the reader to search and comprehend. It must also quickly draw their attention to your most relevant skills and accomplishments.

Resumes are designed to sell the applicant and show employers at a glance that they have what it takes.




Your contact details
Make sure your contact details are accurate and up to date.


Personal statement / career objective
This should be user-centred and tailored to the specific organization and position you are applying for. Keep it short and concise (no longer than one paragraph) and try to show in it that you’ve given thought to your future career.


Employment history in a resume
Your jobs should be listed in order with the most recent one first. Then include the dates, your job title, the employers name, followed by listing the responsibilities & work duties you performed and which are most relevant to the job you are applying for. You should list:


Areas of expertise
These can be general or specific skills that are relevant to the vacancy. Consider using bullet points to summarize any major accomplishments, contributions and qualifications.


Academic qualifications
In the education section give details of what you have studied. State the highest degree you have earned, where you studies and the date of any graduation etc.




The objective of a resume is to

  • Direct the reader’s attention to information that is relevant to the job being applied for.
  • Highlight your accomplishments.
  • Show that you are qualified for their vacancy.


A resume should contain

  • A brief career statement (sometimes called a personal summary or career objective)
  • Relevant work experience (describe accomplishments as well as duties).
  • Academic achievements
  • Your name, address and contact details (phone number and email address).


Tips when writing your resume

  • Keep is concise and to the point.
  • Only enter relevant information.
  • Use keywords strategically.
  • Spell check and proofread your résumé.
  • Include personal traits (i.e. you’re an honest worker, you enjoy being part of a big team).
  • There is no need to include the word ‘resume’ at the start or top of your resume.
  • Include keywords related to the job you are applying and your industry as a whole.


Resume format
Make sure the resume is well laid out, easy to read and displayed on a clean white background in a standard font (like Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana) and at a standard size (10 or 12 point).
A resume usually sets out information in a reverse order, with your most recent work experience and study details being at the beginning of any list.

To make key points stand out consider using bullet list.


Resume length
A resume should not be an exhaustive list, note that if it’s too long it probably won’t get read at all. The best resumes are usually no longer than one or two pages.


What is the difference between a resume and a CV (Curriculum Vitae)
A CV is much more detailed and much more suited to applying for academic positions.  CVs also tend to be used more in the UK, whereas a resume is more common in the USA and North America.

Resumes are also shorter than CVs which tend to be two pages long.


Keywords in your resume
It is vital that you include those keywords related to your profession and the job you are applying for. Remember that resumes which are emailed to employers may end up on a computer/ electronic resume database. When recruiters search resumes from these databases, they try to match certain keywords appropriate to a particular career field. It’s therefore vital that you have in your resume those keywords they may be searching for.


How long should a resume be?
Ideally it should be no more than one page. However for some professions like academics, actors, people in the medical field or company directors this may not be enough and for them two page resumes are acceptable.


Online resumes
Online recruitment has become popular with many employers because it has helped to cut the cost of advertising jobs. Nowadays virtually all jobs are advertised via the Internet. This in turn has made it much easier for job seekers to find and apply for positions. When applying for jobs through recruitment websites or job boards you must ensure that your resume is fully optimised for online applications. Resumes can be emailed in a variety of formats including MS Word, PDF or HTML.


Tailor your resume
Carefully read and analyse the job advertisement, this will help you understand what the employer is looking for. For instance if the vacancy stipulates that applicants should have 2 years experience in a particular field then be sure that the resume you send to that employer clearly reflects and highlights that you have that experience.

The more you know about the employer and the position, the more you can tailor your resume to fit the job. The more you know about the duties and skills required for the job, the more you can organize your resume around these points, and the more effective the resume. A tailored resume will be much more successful than a generic one, even though it means more preparation.

Remember that your resume is a marketing tool and for maximum effectiveness a separate one should be written for and tailored towards each specific job role that you apply for.


Grammatical and spelling errors
It is imperative that there are no spelling mistakes in your resume. Therefore always spell check and
proof read the final document. Also consider asking a friend to read it in case they notice errors that you missed.




Chronological resume
This is the most common layout in use. A chronological résumé is best for those who have mostly worked in the same field and can show steady progress up the ladder, each job being a step-up from the last. It focuses on your most recent work experience and then working chronologically backwards.


Functional resume
The focus of this type of résumé is skills and experience, not career history. A functional résumé is best for those who cannot show a steady career progression.


Related links
Difference between CV and resume
Entry level resume template
Resume objective
Resume templates
Sample resume
Student resume