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What should be on a resume?

Updated on August 18, 2013
Business handshake
Business handshake | Source

As a recruiter, I see the same mistakes over and over again on the resumes I receive in response to the job postings I list. Initially I was shocked at the lack of information on some of the resumes/CV's I came across.

Your resume (or CV) is your initial introduction to your future employer and showcases your work history and experience. There are few things you need to ensure are incorporated so that you do not simply get overlooked in the prescreening process.

Here are the basic but Important items that should be included on your on a resume or CV.

What to include

What personal information to include:

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address

Personal Information

Ensure that all of your personal information is actually on your resume and is up to date. This is how your future employer will contact you and if it is absent, incorrect or out of date eg: number not in service, then you will not get through to the first round of interviews.

You are probably thinking that it is obvious you would need to add your personal information to your resume but this is something that gets over looked more often that it should.

One in every 20 resumes I see does not have a phone number to contact the candidate on. Even worse than this is one in every 20 has incorrect or out of services numbers listed. Yet under "Skills" the candidate has included "high level of attention to detail".

You will not get the job if you can not be contacted for an interview, plain and simple.

Make sure that you use a professional email address such as "firstname.lastname@hotmail.com" if you do not have one, then create one. Do not use an email address you created when you were 13 years old, some may be surprised by this but "hotbabe69" is absolutely inappropriate.

Objective

A brief sentence outlinng what you intend to achieve by submitting your resume to the potential employer.

Example: To obtain full time employement as a "insert job title" for "insert company" where I can utilize my skills and experience to excell in the role.

It is very important to change this to fit the position you are applying for. Every day I see objectives that are completely irrelevant to the positions the candidate is applying for.

One in particular wrote "To obtain a role as a full time server within your company", when the position they applied for was a sales role.

What Information to provide

  • Employer name
  • Position Title
  • Time frame held position for (2009-2012)
  • List of duties
  • Requirements/KPI's (key performance indicators) you had to meet montly/annually

Work Experience

Relevant work experience is important on your resume as it shows the employer that you have held a similar position before, that you have some of the key skill sets and/or experience they are looking for.

In my oppinion you should be able to fit the entire contents of your resume on 1 to 2 pages. Do not include the last twenty positions you have held under work experience section, this should be 4 or 5 maxium. Avoid including stocking shelves at the supermarket when you were 14 years old if you are applying for an accounting position at the age of 30, too much information.

Skills and Attributes

List any particular skills you have that are relevant and would make you an asset to the company. For example:

  • Proficiency in Microsoft programs such as word, excel etc
  • Time management
  • Works well under pressure
  • Excellent verbal and written communication
  • Works efficiently as an individual or in team environment
  • Fluent in both French and English, both written and verbal

These are just a few examples.

Education
Education | Source

Education

The highest level of education is the most important here. No need to put that you graduated highschool especially when you have a university or equivalent degree/education.

List any subjects that you majored in especially if they are relevant to the position you are applying for. For example Business management if you are applying for a managerial role.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work is great to put on your resume as it shows the employer that you are motivated, an active member of the community and a team player.

This definitely suggests positive things about ones' character.

Biking
Biking | Source

Interests

This is not absolutely neccessary to put on your resume but can be good as it can give the potential employer some insite into you as a person.

Be careful not to add things like:

  • Loves to party
  • Party animal
  • Drinking

Even though this may sound like you, the potential employer is going to see red flags with this kind of information. All they are asking themselves at this point is "how many sick days is this person going to take for a hang over?" and "Will they even bother to come in to work on Mondays at all?".

References

Include two references from previous/current employers where the position you held involved relevant experience to the role that you are applying for.

It is very important to select references that they will actually say good things about you. Dont make the mistake of adding a reference from a position you were fired from or didnt leave on good terms. Sounds like that should be obvious I know, but believe me it actually happens.

Key Words

You should ensure that you have key words placed throughout your resume that are relevant to the position. Do not over do it by keyword stuffing as it will look completely unnatural.

What you can do is look at the employers' job posting and use some of the same language/key words that they have used in the listing.

Some recruitment agencies run candidate resumes through a program which scans each resume looking for certain key words relevant to the position or special skills they are looking for. If the program does not pick up enough key words you would be elimited from the possible candidate list and the recruiter will not even see your resume.

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