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Get that job (1): Resumes and CVs

Original article by Neen James  |  Adapted by David V. Appleyard

Your resume is your sales document. It tells the world of your achievements, capabilities and the roles you have enjoyed playing. It should stand alone and represent you well. To help impress potential employers, here are a few guidelines to help you create an effective resume.


Write a captivating cover letter — use friendly language, refer to the specific job advertised, and allow some of your own personality to shine through.

Don’t present your resume in a plastic folder — these are bulky and unnecessarily costly. Your interviewer will be discarding unsuccessful applications anyway. Keep it simple, clean and stapled.

Keep it short — no more than 2–3 pages maximum. Only refer to the past 10–15 years of career experience, regardless of how long you have been working.

Keep it relevant — only include details that are significant and will help sell you.

Start the resume with a Personal Capability Statement. This is 2–3 sentences or bullet points on what you are good at, your skills and knowledge. Place it right at the top of the document so it is the first thing people see.

Place your contact information in the footer of the document, so that when printed out your details are on every page.

Don’t dedicate a whole page to your contact information. You only need to list your name, address, cell phone number and email address.

Don’t use italics or underlining. These can be hard to read and tend to make your document look messy. Use a common 12 font. Times New Roman or Arial are safe. Avoid fancy fonts that also may not work when emailing documents.

Don’t use gimmicks or make it into a PowerPoint presentation — interviewers don’t like this.

Use white space — don’t cramp the document. This will also allow the interviewer to enter notes on it.

Avoid jargon or industry terms and acronyms. If you do use acronyms, always list their meanings. Not everyone will be familiar with the terms.

Don’t list your job descriptions — don’t bore the reader with every single detail of your previous job(s).

List your responsibilities — make a short and relevant list of the responsibilities you had in each position.

List your achievements. Many people only list their responsibilities in a resume. Make sure yours stands out by emphasizing your achievements.

Make the achievements specific — use statistics, client testimonials and comments, and other targeted information, e.g. "increased sales by 21%," or "received 97% on customer satisfaction survey."

Show others your resume and solicit some comments — find people who understand resumes and can give constructive feedback on yours.

Get it edited — pay someone to edit your document and check for spelling and grammar errors. The small cost involved will ensure a professional finish.

Don’t send academic transcripts or work samples — save these for the face-to-face interview.

Use positive and energetic words in your resume. Avoid clichés, and look for creative ways to package what you want to say.

This document should sell you! Be honest, get feedback on it, and then send it out confidently for the jobs you desire.