Resume Templates – The Do’s & Don’ts Of Job Resumes & How To Write A Standout Job Application
It can be very frustrating when applying for jobs. In your job search, you might find a job that you think you are perfectly matched for and have all the skills required, yet you don’t even get called for an interview! You can’t figure out why – well most times, it’s your resume. It may be your resume layout or your whole employment application that needs work and is not doing what it needs to do to sell you and your skills to the employer.
Whether starting with resume templates or a blank job application, you will find that you need to tailor it for your own skill set – no generic application is going to show off your skills and abilities without work on your part. The article on How To Write A Job
Winning Curriculum Vitae (CV) will give you some ideas on how to start looking at your skills differently, how to collate them and come up with re
This article is going to cover what you should include in your resume layout, how to start with a resume template, and tailor it into your best resume format.
Start With A Free Resume Template
Job resume templates are easy to find on the Internet and most of them have the same framework and headings. You will also find a number of free resume templates here as well as examples of resumes to show you what a good resume format includes.
You should develop a resume layout specifically for yourself that includes all of the information, skills and examples across all of your career and job history. You can then tailor what you provide for different job applications according to the skills you have that you need to highlight. Not all of your job history needs to be presented in your resume, at least not in a high level of detail. It’s really about highlighting your employability skills and making your job application a stand out match for hiring jobs.
What Headings To Include In Your Resume Layout
- Name – Make sure your name is on every page of your resume – whether in the header or the footer – it will keep your name in the forefront of the recruiters mind when they are looking at your application.
- Address – if you use a PO Box, it’s OK to use this address in your resume, but it’s better if you can use your home address. However, if you do not live in the vicinity of the job that’s hiring, you should explain in your cover letter why you are applying for the role i.e. you are moving to the area, you are used to commuting, you will stay at your Grandma’s house etc. This is important, because some recruiters will consider this and think about: whether there will be transfer expenses to be paid by them in hiring you; will you just quit if you find a job closer to home; what if you’re constantly late because of the commute etc.
- Contact details (phone and email)– whatever contact details you provide, make sure that you can be contacted on these details. There’s no point in providing an email address if you only check it weekly. If you don’t want your current employer knowing you’re going for a new job, then don’t give your work phone number – but make sure that you have a mobile number that they can get you on, even if you have to phone them back. Check your messages during your breaks if you’re applying for jobs – interview scheduling can be really difficult, and it helps if you are easily contactable. Make sure that your answering message and email address are appropriate! I can’t stress this point enough! Some people have funny or silly messages on their machines or phones, and don’t think about how this may look to a potential employer. There have been times when I’ve decided not interview someone based on their inappropriate phone message.
- Career Goals or objective for your resume – keep this succinct, and make sure that your goals are actually in alignment with the job that you’re apply for. I’ve seen applications where someone has been applying for a sales job, but their career goal is to use their degree qualifications and become an engineer! This says to an employer that you’re not serious about this role and that you’re just applying for anything – you’ll be out the door as soon as you find something more suited to you and they’ve just spent time and money training you for their job! It doesn’t matter if you slightly tailor your career goals to each job you apply for – we’ll go through this in more detail in an article about resume objectives.
- Major Interests – be selective with what you put in here. Again, think about the job that you’re applying for and think about what or your interests might relate to the actual role. Less is generally more in this area – keep it brief, unless you draw a specific correlation to the job that’s hiring. Include any voluntary work that you do in this section – it reflects that you are socially responsible, like to help the community and give of your time and you can also have gained some great skills in volunteering your time!
RESUME LAYOUT DON’TS:
- Don’t include a photo of yourself unless the job requires it – e.g. actors, models etc. It’s not necessary, and the employer should not be making a decision to shortlist you based on your looks.
- Don’t include your age – again, unless required for the role – e.g. “Seeking Juniors for casual McDonald’s shifts” etc. The panel should not be considering how old you are when determining whether your skills and abilities meet their requirements. Sometimes they will try to figure it out anyway based on the year of graduation from high school or college, but that can’t be helped.
- Always go in reverse chronological order (i.e. starting from the most recent)
- There’s no need to include where you went to primary school unless you’re applying for your first job, and you’ve only been in high school a few years.
- You simply need to list the name of the course or degree you completed, the school where you completed it, the year that you obtained the qualification and the major.
RESUME LAYOUT DON’TS:
- Don’t list the subjects that you undertook in your courses unless it’s relevant to the role, or it’s a graduate role you’re applying for and it is asked for.
- Don’t include results as attachments to your resume unless specifically asked for.
- Don’t include your grade point average (especially if it’s not strong), unless it’s asked for in the application or the capabilities. The fact that you have completed a degree or qualification is usually enough. However, a grade point average will generally be asked for if you’re applying for a graduate position in particular as it becomes part of the shortlisting process.
Training, Accreditation and Short Courses
- Use the same format as you did for Education above
- It is sometimes a good idea to split your training up into “Professional”, “Business” and “Personal”.
- You can give more detail about the subjects or the course if it is relevant to the job you’re applying for or if you want to demonstrate a capability like “you are a self-starter” or “you are a continual learner as evidence by the courses you have undertaken”.
RESUME LAYOUT DON’TS:
- Don’t list courses that you did at school or while you were a Girl Guide or Scout if you’ve been working for 10 years. Be selective about what you include – not everything needs to go in here. Make it relevant!
Business and Career History
- Reverse chronological order is best (i.e. most recent first).
- Include the job title, the organisation and the time you were there e.g. July 2013 to present or June 2010 to August 2012
- Include the duties or activities that you undertook in this role – sometimes you can take this from old job descriptions of roles you have undertaken
- Use winning job application words like “Lead and managed a team….”, “Developed processes and systems to…” or “Worked as a member of a team to….” (See the My CV Writing Skills Checklist and the Transferable CV Skills Checklist for help in crafting this information).
- Include a section called Major Achievements or Outcomes Achieved – in this include all of the things that you achieved in the role e.g. “The project was implemented on time and on budget” or “I received a commendation for the work on the xyz project” or “I always achieved sales targets” etc. We’ll go through how to do this effectively in the Help Getting A Job site.
RESUME LAYOUT DON’TS:
- Don’t go into too much detail for your first few jobs if they were over 10 years ago and aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Don’t just state that you “Lead Staff” or “Prepared Food” or “Served on a Counter”. You need to give more detail and say what the situation was and what you actually did e.g. “Lead Staff to deliver effective customer service to clients both on the phone and in person” or “Served on the counter at McDonald’s using exceptional customer service skills and delivering service to a high standard”.
- Some jobs will ask you to supply references, which are written letters of commendation or comment about your skills from a previous employer or organisation. Most however, will ask for referees instead. Referees are the contact details of previous employers that can be contacted to discuss your skills and capabilities.
- If you are going to give referees, it’s a good idea to ask your referees if they are OK with you putting them down as referees before applying for the role. It’s also a good idea to have a chat with the referee and ask them what they would say about you if asked and also to remind them about what you actually did in your role – it can be embarrassing if you put someone down as your referee only to find out that they didn’t really know about the work that you did or didn’t support your application.
- Recruiters will generally ask to talk with your most recent supervisor – be prepared for this and at least list someone from your last employer.
- Often I get asked what to do if you had a bad experience in your last job and your supervisor and you did not get along – in effect they are likely to say bad things about you. What I advise in this situation is firstly – put “referees available on request” – that way you can talk with the employer first before having to commit any one referee to paper. Secondly, talk with the employer about what occurred in general terms with that supervisor, and give them an alternative referee to talk to. It’s actually not unusual for people to have had issues with at least one supervisor in their lives.
RESUME LAYOUT DON’TS:
- Don’t list your best friend or your Mum as a referee and pretend that they are your last employer or you better be prepared to deal with the fall out if you’re found out!
- Don’t list referees when you don’t know what they are likely to say about you. Be sure to have a conversation with your referees first.
- Don’t list your Dad or family member as a referee because you have no other experience. It’s ok to list a family member if you actually did work for them in some capacity – but most companies will not do character references any more, and usually there is no validity in talking with a family member anyway – they are generally biased.
Best Job Resume Layout
In summary, by all means use a generic resume layout template, but make sure that you tailor it to show off your skills and abilities. Paint yourself in the best light possible, demonstrate your employability skills and make your job application stand out from the crowd!