Cambridge Dictionary says – a resume is a short written description of your education, qualifications, previous jobs and sometimes also your personal interests. The resume should be able to quickly familiarize the reader with your career’s major highlights and your unique skills and achievements.
Let us look at a few important points on how a resume should be.
1. Brevity is the key
Do not make the resume a collection of all that you have achieved throughout your life. Remember that a resume should give a clear idea about you as an individual. Too much information crammed in a short document doesn’t achieve any purpose. People would have to search for the important points themselves and as a result, may miss out on the more important points, or worse still, simply skip it
2. Keep it organised
Your name should be at the top, along with your email and contact number. All experiences, achievements, educational details should be listed in reverse-chronological Your resume should focus only on the most important aspects about you so that the reader can create a clear picture about you. Do not include basic achievements, basic computer skills and achievements that are too old to have much impact on you as a person
3. How many pages?
Your resume should ideally be one page long, or at the most, two pages (mainly for those having many years of work experience and achievements). This does not mean that you would add as many points as you can in that one page – remember that readability is very important. Too much text would make it look clumsy and difficult to read. There should be enough white space between lines and on the sides (left, right, top and bottom margins)
4. Draw attention
To draw attention to certain parts of your resume, you may consider underlining, or bolding those areas – but you need to consistently follow the same styling. The font should be the same throughout and do not use different colours. The font used should be a formal one – like this font used here, for example
5. Make separate sections
Your resume should have separate sections – one for academics, one for work experience, one for achievements, etc., so that one can clearly differentiate between them. These sections should be clearly labelled, preferably using a different font size (but using the same font!). The main sections are: Professional Experience, Education, Special achievements, and Personal. You may include separate headers for sections like Publications, Entrepreneurship, Social work, etc.
6. Use bullet points
Use of bullet points – bullet points should be one or two line long. If longer, you should split them into two or more bullets. Each bullet point should focus on only one important aspect of your profile and not on a combination of multiple aspects. Each bullet point should focus on one aspect of your profile. For the bullets in your work experience section, focus on your responsibilities and results you achieved in the role. You should use clear language and come straight to the point – don’t beat about the bush. Avoid use of client names if you are not comfortable or are not authorized (there are no negatives for that!)
7. Avoid abbreviations
Use of abbreviations – you should not use abbreviations which are specific to your field of study or your domain of work. Use of such abbreviations make the meaning unclear and the reader eventually loses interest of there are too many of those. Avoid jargon and abbreviations and explain in simple language so that someone not from the same industry can also understand what you have written
8. Use active voice
You should use active voice in your resume. Passive voice is usually wordier and difficult to read. Use of active voice shows that you are a “doer” and helps grab the reader’s attention quickly. Also, it is best to start each bullet point with an active verb. However, you should avoid the use of the same verb in all the points.