As a recruiter, I spend a lot of time reviewing resumés. Obviously content is the most important consideration, but I’ll be honest: some resumés are a lot more appealing than others.
Here are a few tips on crafting a professional resumé that appeals to recruiters (or to me, at any rate).
1. Use the right template
There are several different types of resumé: chronological, skill-based, functional, or mixed. Personally, I like chronological or mixed.
Chronological resumés make it easy to get a sense of someone’s work history and how they’ve progressed from one job to the next. You start with your most recent experience and work your way back. For each job, you should include your official title or position, the name of the company, how long you held the position, and a description of your main tasks.
Mixed resumés put the emphasis on your accomplishments, as well as jobs held and responsibilities. If you want to draw attention to experience that’s relevant but less recent, this is a good way to do it. A mixed resumé will also include a chronological list of the positions you’ve held.
However you decide to structure your resumé, the important thing is to end up with something that’s accurate and presents you in a good light.
2. Fine-tune your layout
In my opinion, the number of pages for an IT applicant’s resumé can (and should) vary depending on your years of experience and the number of positions you’ve held. What you don’t want is a long resumé that’s short on content. So make every page count! And while you want to convey as much information as possible on each page, makes sure it’s clear and easy for recruiters to read.
Your formatting should be simple and straightforward, which means you should use a conventional font such as Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, or something similar. Want to get creative? In my opinion that’s fine, as long as it’s tasteful. You can use a bit of color (avoid pastels, which are hard to read) or create borders for your sections. A professional-looking layout shows that you’re motivated and can make your resumé stand out from the pile. I always believe it’s best to save your resumé as a PDF to make sure your layout stays the same across all platforms. Normally if you’re an IT applicant, recruiters expect you to be able to put together a resumé with a nice layout, meaning the various elements (titles, bullet points, page breaks, etc.) should be organized, well structured, and aligned.
A good-looking resumé says that you’re professional and motivated, which is the cue recruiters need to give it their full attention. If you aren’t sure about your layout, you can always seek an expert opinion. Employment centres usually have people who can help you fine-tune the details.
3. Ace the content
The most basic, crucial thing in any resumé is to put your name and contact information front and centre so that it’s easy for recruiters to contact you. That may seem obvious, but some people still forget to include contact information or will list a phone number that’s no longer in service. On a similar note, make sure your voicemail is activated. Next, be sure to include the languages you speak. In IT, it’s also a good idea to have a section where you list your technical skills and the technologies you’ve used in a work environment. That last point is important: as far as I’m concerned, you should include the technologies you’ve actually worked with, not ones that you saw briefly, ten years ago. Again, it’s a matter of crafting a resumé that’s relevant and accurate.
For the descriptions of the positions you’ve held, indicate your official title, the name of the company, when you held the position, and a short description of your main tasks. The important thing is to come up with descriptions that are clear, accurate, and concise. The standard way of doing this is to start each item with an action verb in simple past or simple present tense. This shouldn’t be a series of complete sentences; bullet points are an excellent option. The next section usually lists your education and training. If you went to school or took courses in another country and have the results of a comparative assessment of your qualifications, it can be a good idea to include those.
Once you’re satisfied with all your sections, check your spelling and grammar. Reread your resumé, use spellcheck, use a grammar checker, look things up in a dictionary, ask a friend to reread it for you—whatever it takes to get your resumé as close to error-free as humanly possible. Do the same thing with the email you’ll be sending directly to recruiters. Remember, it’s the very first thing we see, before we even open your resumé.
In conclusion, your resumé should be the best tool you have for nabbing interviews with recruiters. It’s worth investing a few hours of your time to make it appealing. You should be proud of your unique career path and eager to present it effectively. I hope this article will get you thinking about how to do just that.