Here at ZSA, we spend a lot of time looking at resumes and there are some that just grab our attention more than others. Whether you’re cleaning up an old resume or starting from scratch, here’s what our consultants think you should know.
The first thing you’ll need to consider is content. Think hard about the information you want to include and what it says about you. For starters, “make sure your resume matches the job description. If the employer is looking for someone with experience in a specific sector, then make sure they will be able to find the relevant experience on your resume,” explains Marie-Helene Cloutier, Consultant. In addition to professional work experience, Lana Driscoll, Senior Consultant, believes it’s important to “include professional development – it’s always great to see a candidate involved in continuous learning.”
Aside from including your professional experience, one of the most effective writing techniques is to try to forge a personal connection with the hiring manager/recruiter. Travis Usher, Consultant, urges everyone to “include a personal section. The key is to add a little detail and be specific; everyone likes ‘music, books, and movies,’ so, instead, talk about your favourite movie, or the last book you read. Endeavour to include details about the ‘real you.’” Lana Driscoll agrees. “Interests are great – most recruiters/hiring managers want to know you have interests and are a person outside of your work day. It also provides an easy ‘break the ice’ starting point for an interview. If a candidate mentions cycling or mental health initiatives on their CV, I always discuss these during an interview.” Personal touches are very important, but make sure you take the time to present them in the most effective way. Travis Usher would suggest, for example, that you “don’t include an “Objective” section. It takes up space and no-one has ever written an Objective that even approaches insightful or interesting.”
Finally, be sure to pay close attention to the structure and overall presentation. Caitlyn Waring, Consultant, stresses that information should “be organized in a logical order so that the reader can easily follow your path. If I see things are presented in a strange order or dates are not provided, I feel like the writer may be trying to hide something.”
With all this in mind, try to avoid drowning the reader with too much detail. We have to read a lot of these, don’t forget. While we recognize it may be difficult, Lana Driscoll can summarize the perfect resume as “brief, concise and to-the-point. It makes the reader want to ask questions and find out more. It is your expanded elevator pitch on paper – it tells us who you are and what you’ve achieved.”