April 22, 2020

Your Essential Resume Checklist

Putting your best foot forward with a tailored resume that highlights your skills and achievements has never been more important. It’s your ticket to an interview and the chance to impress your potential employer face-to-face, and a resume that isn’t up to scratch will quickly find its way to the bottom of your potential employer’s pile.

But what makes a resume stand out? Here are the ingredients you need to help you put together a resume an employer can’t look past.

Before you start

Firstly, you should always tailor your resume to fit the role you’re applying for. Research the position and draw heavily from the job listing, such as key criteria, experience and skills, to put together a resume that is customised for the role you’re going for. You can even use keywords from the job listing – if they were included by the employer, these keywords will likely stand out to them as they read your resume. Using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ resume can appear lazy, and will likely contain irrelevant information for your potential employer to sift through.

 What to include

The content of a resume does differ slightly depending on the role, but in general it should include the following:

  • Contact information – ideally, provide multiple contact options – both phone and email – to ensure your potential employer can reach you. Private information such as age or gender doesn’t need to be included.
  • Key skills – the most important thing to remember when listing your key skills is to keep it relevant to the position. Only include a skill if it would make you better at the job you’re applying for. Proficiency in common software, such as Microsoft Office programs, is always a good starting point.
  • Experience and previous roles – again, the key is to keep it relevant. If it doesn’t add anything to your candidacy for the position, leave it out. Summarise the position you held with an organisation, and describe your key roles in the position in a way that best fits the job description. This is your chance to showcase how fit you are for the role.
  • Volunteer work – employers look for a well-rounded person, not just a good employee. Any volunteer or charity work you’ve done – particularly with communities linked to the role – helps demonstrate contributions you’ve made to society, as well as a good work ethic.
  • Education – you should list your tertiary education – what you studied (including any relevant majors), where you studied and if you like, when. School qualifications aren’t necessary, but can be included if you don’t have relevant tertiary education to list.
  • Referees – your referees should be someone who can speak to your skills and experience relevant to the role, as well as to your character as a person. List multiple contact options for referees if you have them, and give your referees a heads up when you’ve included them in an application so they have a chance to prepare for a call.

Length and layout

Try and keep your resume to two pages if possible. A third page is okay, but just remember how many applications your potential employer has to look through. If you find your resume is too long, this may be a good chance to go back and re-edit to make sure all the information is necessary – resumes are for showing your credentials in the most concise way possible.

Remember less is more. Don’t go overboard with design elements – the person reading it is far more interested in the content than the colour of the border. Use a clear, well-sized font and take care not to jam all your information in – it’s a good idea to leave some blank space on the page. Sans-serif fonts generally give a more modern feel, so fonts like Arial or Verdana are always good options.

Ultimately, a strong resume is your first step towards the job you’re after. It can cement your candidacy for the role, present you as a person worth working with and will give you a great chance at a face-to-face interview to show a potential employer why you’re the one for the job.

Best of luck, and happy job hunting!


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