As a job seeker, investing your time into writing a resume that stands out could be the difference it takes to help you find your dream job. CVs are an essential tool in the job searching process and everyone should know how to construct a well thought out resume that showcases their skills and experience to prospective employers.
Read our CV writing Help Guide section below, to learn:
- How to write a CV that stands out in the crowd
- The best resume format to follow
- What to include and what to exclude
- Importance of tailoring your CV to your audience
The length & format of a winning CV
As a rule, the length of your CV should aim to cover 2 printed pages and no more than 3-4.
Begin your CV with a short summary of who you are, including your key career objectives – this area should take up only a paragraph or two at most. Avoid all the subjective clichés such as 'excellent self-starter', 'good team player', 'natural leader’ and ‘good communicator'. These qualities can be demonstrated through your tangible achievements which follow in the CV.
Next, your CV should provide a showcase of your current experience as well as any significant career achievements and skills you have attained throughout your working life.
Where possible, you should highlight any experience that is directly related the requirements of the specific job you are applying for. Your resume layout should be in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experience at the top and the most important matching skills first, even if they are less important in terms of your present job.
A CV should also give some idea of your future potential. If you are presently studying for an additional qualification, say so.
CV template / How to order your resume:
A good guideline on how to list the line items in your resume would be as follows:
- Name/Phone/Email details at the top
- Career Objective
- List of soft skills
- Your work history listed in reverse chronological order (with the most recent job appearing first)
- Career highlights/achievements e.g. Awards
- Educational qualifications e.g. CA/CPA
- Any volunteer work or vocational work placements
- Your referees listed at the very bottom OR a note mentioning ‘Referees on request’
Do you have gaps in your resume?
Perhaps you took a year out to follow your dreams and travel the world, or accepted a short project role for 6 months before you went for something more full time. Either way, remember that your CV will form part of the script for the interviewer's questions, so if there are any gaps in time between jobs, be sure to provide clear reasons on where you were and what you were doing. This will come up in the interview anyway, so it’s best to be as clear as possible from the outset. Most employer’s value well-travelled candidates or those with consultative experience so don’t be afraid to be up front and honest about your career history.
Tailor your resume so that it illustrates your achievements
It is not sufficient to simply state the jobs and responsibilities that you have held. If you really want to stand out from other candidates, the best way to do this is by highlighting in your resume how well you have carried out this work through your list of achievements.
How does an achievement differ from responsibility? An achievement is a statement of how you have added value to an organisation.
Listing your skills & qualities on your resume
Your resume is a sales tool to help you sell yourself to a prospect employer - always express your skills and qualities in the present tense - you may not be using them right now but you still have these facilities.
Your positive features need to jump off the page – and we don’t mean your physical appearance! Instead, list the names of software or technology packages you have experience with and your proficiency (either beginner, intermediate or advanced). You may also want to list personal attributes such as the fact that you are hardworking, punctual and a quick learner.
Don’t make these resume mistakes:
- Resumes should never be handwritten (no matter how good your cursive may be!): Your CV should be printed and designed in a manner is clear and visually attractive. So many CVs do not reach this standard. Make sure that yours does; otherwise it is a complete waste of effort.
- Spelling mistakes or factual errors: Always perform a spell check and grammar check on your CV before using it to apply for roles. Spelling mistakes show a lack of attention to detail for prospective employers and can result in you missing out on that all important first interview.
A note on functional and chronological CVs
The most widely accepted style is the chronological CV. This is where your career history is presented as a series of appointments with the achievements listed against each one presented in reverse date order, with the most recent appointment first. More space can be allocated to the more recent positions, since these are where you’re most important achievements are usually found.
In some situations, however, a functional CV is acceptable and may be more appropriate - a functional CV is where you group together your skills and experience under `functional' headings. It can be helpful to produce a functional CV, even if it is just for your own reference.
A summary of resume do’s and don’ts:
- List your professional, higher education qualifications and school results
- Show recent vocational training
- Include genuine foreign language skills
- Include your unusual interests
- Add a note of any publications and/or external positions you hold
- Get someone independent to look at your CV when you have completed it - not a friend or family member
- Be prepared to refine it a number of times until it is right
- List every training course you have ever attended
- Indicate race/nationality/politics, etc.
- Put down mundane interests
- Include present salary details
- Add superfluous details about your marital status, children, religion or political affiliations, etc.