Resume 101: How To Craft A Perfect Resume (2020)By Tang Kai Long • 6 min read
Finding a job is a scary and dreadful process. For the most part, rejections are all you get. Sometimes, they don’t even spare you the courtesy of rejecting you – they just don’t reply altogether.
If that’s your life story, maybe it’s time to revamp your resume.
In a recession when the competition for each job is so much stiffer than before, how can you design a resume that stands out to recruiters and gets you an interview?
Fun fact: Resume stems from the root word “résumé” which means “summary” in French.
We dissect the anatomy of a resume and what exactly should go into each segment:
- The header
- A profile/executive summary
- Areas of expertise
- Personality traits
- Education path / work experience path
Before we begin, let’s get this out of the way: When writing your resume, always use fonts that are easy to read. Appropriate fonts include Arial, Calibri, and Times New Roman.
1) The Header
There are 4 essential pieces of information you must include in the header. They are your name, phone number, email address, and your LinkedIn profile URL.
If you have a portfolio, do include it in the header as well.
Apart from these key information, there is absolutely no need for anything else. Nobody needs to know your date of birth, race, marital status, or address.
Some may think that your address is important to include, but it isn’t critical in this little red dot since everywhere is relatively near. You won’t end up with a job that requires you to travel 4 hours by train or take a ferry to reach.
A key part of the header that is missing in most resumes is the LinkedIn profile URL. Any employer that takes interest in you will want to check out your LinkedIn profile, so be sure to always include that in your resume.
Note: Do not include your photo unless otherwise indicated.
2) Profile summary / Executive summary
This is a short paragraph that serves as an elevator pitch – what you’d say to capture the attention of your audience in the least amount of time possible. The shorter the better.
It must mention who you are, your unique selling proposition, whether you are a fresh grad or an experienced professional. An ideal summary would be a 5-liner pitch that makes you stand out from the rest of the candidates.
3) Areas of expertise
In this segment, you want to put in 5 – 12 keywords that helps the recruiter quickly understand your strengths and areas of expertise.
Even if you are a fresh grad, you’ll need to include this segment into your resume. Think back on the years of education, internship experiences and side projects to identify your skillsets and expertise.
Bear in mind that these should be just keywords, not sentences. This will help optimise your resume to show up at the top of the search result if the company is using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
To understand more about what ATS is, check out this article:
4) Personality traits
This segment is relevant because your employers would want to know you as an individual.
Remember: You are not just another cog in the wheel.
In this section, you can go big on your soft skills or key competencies that make you different from other candidates. It should consist of 3 – 5 sentences that are independent of your skillsets.
5) Work experience / Education background
Start off with your responsibilities. Include a short paragraph of 4 to 5 lines that clearly explains what you did in your previous jobs.
Pro-tip: Your responsibilities should closely mirror your job description. After all, that is what you were hired to do. Just make sure you don’t copy and paste directly.
You will realise that unknowingly, your skills and capabilities will be brought into limelight as you talk about the work you’re involved with. This should come naturally and this way you won’t miss out on anything.
Note: You can easily achieve this by talking about your daily routines and duties. Then move on to monthly, quarterly, annually etc. You should be able to cover everything in a very coherent manner.
For achievements, be as specific as you can. As best as possible, highlight your achievements using facts and numbers. Here are some examples:
Many candidates may feel like “But I really don’t have anything tangible to show for!” Which in turn can lead to their downfall, because they will have nothing to compete with those who are able to quantify their achievements.
Understand there is a certain metric behind every achievement. Even if all you did was conducted a survey, that is also quantifiable: “Led a team of 3 researchers to conduct a campus-wide research with 350 participants.” Of course, it may not be as straightforward as the other segments of your resume.
In fact, this is arguably the toughest part of the resume to craft. But being able to do so will take the standard of your resume up a notch.
What about “References available upon request”?
Do not include that in your resume because it is a total waste of page space. Every recruiter knows that references are available upon request.
Even if you have good references, they will know better than to contact the ones that you’ve listed – because they know those are the people that will speak highly of you.
In fact, listing your references can backfire. Some recruiters may specifically ask you for someone who isn’t on the list to provide reference. By then, your most valuable references would have been exhausted because they were already included in your resume.
Should I include my interests?
Include your interests only if they support your capabilities to perform at the job. For example, if you are applying to be a writer, feel free to include “poetry” as your interest. Otherwise don’t.
In extreme cases, your interests can backfire on you. For example, your interest in fishing can come off as animal cruelty if your employer happens to advocate heavily for animal rights.
When crafting your resume, always be mindful to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to recognise all your achievements. It would be a shame if you had amazing accolades and accomplishments in all of your stints, only to have them lost in the sea of irrelevant information you’ve included.
Take reference from these pointers and start your resume make-over today. Check out related articles here:
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