Careers & Education

The résumé — dos and don'ts

BY KARIM SMITH Career & Education writer

Sunday, February 23, 2014    

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WRITING a résumé and writing an effective résumé are two different things. It is quite easy for someone to create a résumé, but there is an art to doing it right.

"In my time I have met some downright frightening résumés that have shaken the very core of my sanity," Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, business communications consultant wrote last year. "I'm talking about your self-indulgent six-pagers that wax lyrical about daffodils and other totally irrelevant bits of information about the applicant and his ability. To this day, not even vivid images of Idris Elba, Denzel Washington or Asafa Powell, jogging bare-chested and sweaty, on a meltingly hot summer's day can erase the painful assault on my consciousness, having digested any such magnum opus. Mercy, please."

Here are the dos and don'ts of writing résumés.

1. CUSTOMISATION

Though there is a standard that is to be upheld, when you are doing your résumé you can personalise and customise it to reflect you. No one is just black and white and your résumé shouldn't be dull, after all you are trying to attract attention to your résumé.

2. HAVE MORE THAN ONE PAGE

There should be more to your résumé than the front page. The front page should give the reader an overview of who you are and what you can do. The first page should be able to stand alone and make that good first impression. Subsequent pages should give details to get you the interview.

3. SUMMARISE YOURSELF

Who are you? What do you stand for? What does your potential employer need to know about you? These are all things to consider when writing your introductory paragraph. Employers don't need to know that you have a Mac or an iPad, leave the irrelevant things out. But remember to make it a quick and easy read.

4. BE CONCISE

Bear in mind that as an applicant, there are several other applicants who are all qualified and that there is someone who will have to read all the résumés to decide who will get the interview. It's better to be concise and even use bullet points where possible. Not only will it be easier to read, but it will also make your résumé more organised and complete with only relevant information. Just don't overuse bullet points.

5. NICE WHITE SPACES ARE NEEDED

Persons tend to overlook the visual benefits of white space and how much it contributes to readability on documents. A good résumé has effective use of white space both between and within sections.

6. BE RESPONSIBLE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

In this day and age there are many companies that will ask that all résumé submissions be done via email and they will have their own specifications that you will need to meet. Some of these potential employers will even go to social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to see what you have been up to. It would be wise to ensure that what is on your résumé matches what you post on these sites. Don't say that you are a team player if your last few posts were about how you hate everyone in the department.

7. NO ERRORS

A mistake on a résumé paints such a negative impression; it sends the message that the author didn't care enough to double-check their work when it really counted. Remember you want to get employed, not be given a lesson in grammar.

8. USE A PROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS

'Duttypam_is_a_goodaz@

live.com,' for example, is in no way a professional address and indicative of anyone seeking employment at a reputable institution, and neither is 'gazayutekevwurlboss@gmail.com'. An email account takes less than 30 minutes to create so there is no excuse to not have a decent or professional email address. When in doubt, use your first name and last name to create it. Instead of 'kerrygoodgoodbrown@live.

com', try something like 'kerry.brown@live.com'

9. DON'T ADD YOUR OBJECTIVES

The objective of doing the résumé is to get an interview and potentially get a job. Everyone knows this. If you didn't have this in mind, why did you waste time and money to do a résumé and send it out in the first place?

10. MAKE IT READABLE

Make sure your résumé is readable and understandable by your target audience and don't assume they know anything technical. Put things in simple, not simplistic terms.

11. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

Be proud of your achievements and put them on your résumé -- well the significant ones. Also present yourself as accurately as you possibly can. There is no need for you to lie on your résumé. In the long run when your boss asks you to conduct a meeting with some German investors who don't speak English and you had on your résumé that you are fluent in that language and the only German you actually know is Heidi Klum, let's just say that they will remember it and it will haunt you. It is way easier to walk into an interview with confidence knowing that you were 100 per cent honest.

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