Writing resumes that work (even if you don’t yet)

A resume is your personal advertisement. Almost every employer requires one and will use it to get a better idea of whether you are suited to their role. By using the same methods as we applied to soft skills, you can ensure your resume is tailored to the position you are applying for while utilizing skills and experience you have acquired whether it be inside or outside of a work environment.
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Writing resumes that work (even if you don't yet)

A well-written resume should tell your story: your accomplishments, experiences, and skills. Compiling a job application is a daunting task, but if you break it down into manageable steps it will seem a lot easier. We have tackled cover letters, what not to do, and the styles you can choose for your resume. Now it’s time to …

Put it all together

As I mentioned last week, the style of your resume will determine the information you will include. Once you have decided the format you are going to use; ensured you included your appropriate contact details; and compiled a list of references; then you are ready to put together your employment story.

A lot of resume advice recommends including a career objective first up on your resume. In contrast, US News suggests leaving it out as they tend to hinder, rather than help, your application. If you want to discuss how the position aligns with your career goals, do it in your cover letter.

While your cover letter addresses the selection criteria directly, your resume is evidence of your ability to meet the job description. For each relevant position or experience, you have had, you need to be able to apply what you learned there to the job you are applying for. You don’t need to go into too much detail, as you want to save some information for the interview process.

Applying the CAR approach to your resume

The CAR approach forms a framework to tell stories that show your experience is relevant to the position you are applying for.

Instead of using bullet points to describe your work experience, apply the CAR method.

  • Challenge: outline a situation you have encountered in the workplace.
  • Action: outline what steps you took to resolve the situation.
  • Result: relate your resulting success to the requirements of the position you are applying for.

Using the CAR method can work equally well with both hard and soft skills. It also makes it easier to transfer your experience from one industry to another.

For example, if your previous work experience is in retail and you wanted to move into health administration. You could use CAR to describe a situation where you used effective communication skills to solve a problem for a customer, highlighting your ability to treat patients with care.

When using the CAR method in your work experience section, you still need to ensure you include the employer’s name, your position, and the start and finish dates.

Leading with education

If your education is more extensive than your work history, consider starting your resume with this. This is especially the case if you are fresh out of a training course that is relevant to the position. However, don’t just write the program name and study dates. If the courses you have taken match the job requirements, outline what they were and how they relate within the education section of your resume.

Regardless of order or relevance, having a solid education section is like displaying the foundation of your knowledge. At the very least, ensure you include the name of your college, qualifications attained and graduation dates. Don’t bother with your high school education unless you haven’t attended any further studies. An outline of your training achievements will ensure employers know you are willing to undertake professional development to further your career opportunities.

What else can be added?

Consider adding more sections to enhance your resume with additional details about your character and abilities. You can also include awards, certificates, grants, scholarships, or other honors you’ve received.

If you have participated in sport or regularly volunteer, it may be worth adding a hobby section and outlining the roles you have undertaken and any relevant skills you learned in the role. Any experience that hasn’t been covered elsewhere in the resume can always go under an Additional Skills section where you can showcase soft skills from life experiences, fluency in a second language, or any other technical skills you may have acquired along the way.

Now you can use the tools to present yourself with a well-written resume that companies and hiring managers will welcome. Did we leave anything out? If you have any other suggestions, don’t hesitate to join the conversation at Career Spotlight with CCI Training.


Beating the robots: how to get past a resume screener

Did you know that 75% of potentially highly qualified candidates are rejected by resume screeners? This is because applicants fail to use keywords or specific formatting that robotic resume screeners look for when scanning resumes. The system is flawed. However, as long as employers use these systems, smarter applicants need to adjust their resumes to beat them.

  • To get past the robots and in front of human eyes, it is important to use the wording from the job advertisement while avoiding plagiarism. So if the job states that you need experience with a particular software include it within your resume (if you have used it, of course, honesty is key).
  • There is professional jargon in every profession. Utilize industry-specific keywords whether it is skills, licenses, software, responsibilities, or certifications, leave no stone unturned and include them all. However, don’t stuff them all into one section. Have them spread out across your resume to make it easy to read once it does reach a human.
  • You don’t know if the robot has been programmed to recognize acronyms or not. Thus, use both full terms and abbreviations to make sure you’re covered.
  • Make sure that you don’t over-do it to get past the robots though. You need to be able to back up every claim in your resume once you get an interview.
Written By

Martin Zandi

A committed leader in the career education industry, Martin enjoys working with the community and colleagues in further improvement and expansion of education programs to improve outcomes.

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