The Ultimate Resume Guide
Everybody needs a current CV close at hand. You never know when a great opportunity might arise, and it’s good to be ready. Your CV is a vital part of your job-search toolbox. MSELECT can help you cut through the confusion and prepare the best resume you've ever had!
Pay attention to submission requirements. Most organisations are happy with simple documents created in Word and saved as a .doc, .docx or .rtf file. To retain your formatting and fonts, you could save your resume as a PDF; but first make sure PDFs are accepted. Otherwise, use a standard font and keep images out.
Don't waste time with a cover sheet. List your name and contact details at the top of the first page, including your address and a telephone contact number. Include your email address only if it is private and you can check for incoming messages at least once a day. As a general rule, don't include your work number unless you have a private office where you can take a phone call without being overheard.
It is no longer usual to include details under headings such as gender, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity or health. Some experts strongly counsel against including these details. It can make your resume look dated and this personal information is not relevant to your ability to do the job. If any of the factors are relevant and an employer has an exemption to discriminate on these grounds, mention the appropriate information in your cover letter.
Differences of opinion exist about including a career objective. Some experts dislike them, viewing them as an Americanism, clichéd or adding no value. If you do use one, expect to rewrite it, even slightly, to match each job you apply for.
Three sample career objectives:
- An accounting position in a blue-chip media/entertainment company. Long-term plans are to advance into a management position with responsibility for financial functioning of the firm.
- To obtain an entry-level position as a graphic designer that will utilise my creative and organisational skills and will provide an intense learning experience.
- To become a store manager in a national retail chain with opportunities to advance to state sales management.
The best resumes are brief and informative, so every word in this section must work hard for you. As a general rule, include more details about your current job, and less details the older the job. If you've been in the workforce for some period of time, simply list the position, company and dates of your earlier or least relevant jobs. You are not obliged to list every job you've ever had, but you should highlight relevant experience whenever it occurred.
A tactic for older job seekers is to only list jobs since, say, 2000.
If possible, illustrate career development in your resume. If you have "downsized" your career or moved sideways, you may wish to include a brief reference to the circumstances that motivated your move. For instance, "By accepting a less senior position, I was able to accommodate part-time graduate study. In this role, I..."
"The best resumes are brief and informative"
Company and Title
Make a decision about whether the companies you have worked for are more important than the job titles. The most important information should go first, followed by the job title on a new line. Stay consistent, though, to allow for quick scanning and comprehension.
Don't just describe your duties and responsibilities. Emphasise your achievements and show how you contributed to your employer's business. Carefully consider how you can quantify your goals and achievements.
As an example:
"Transformed an inefficient call centre with low morale into an organised, lean and quality focused organisation, increasing revenue by 12 per cent, decreasing costs by 20 per cent and decreasing staff turnover by 25 per cent."
In some cases there won't be a quantitative measure of your achievements. Find other ways to show your contribution. For example:
"Conducted a production inventory and calculated costs as a consultant to a national retailer; findings led to a shift in the purchasing strategy"
There may not have been a problem in the first place. You did however initiate an action and get a result.
"As a self-employed contractor, set up databases for organisations that led to increased productivity for account managers."
The level of detail depends on the balance between your qualifications and your work experience. It may be suitable for school leavers and graduates with little experience to list selected classes and to include results if these are better than average (or requested). Don’t just list everything you did at high school.
As a general guide, the less recent your qualification, the less information you provide. A typical format lists the name of the qualification, the date you graduated, the institution which granted it and your major. For example:
BSc History, 2006, University of Kurdistan
Add the name of any scholarships or awards you have won to the second line.
If you are partway through a qualification, list it like this:
Graduate Diploma in Public Relations (RMIT) study commenced 2009
Begin with the highest level of educational achievement. You can leave out details about high school if you have a higher degree or qualification.
The education section usually follows the employment details unless you are recently graduated or you are pursuing an academic position where your educational achievements are more relevant.
"A new employer generally won't contact referees until they have selected a preferred candidate — or if they are trying to decide between two candidates."
References and Referees
Consider not including details of your referees on your resume. Instead, under a heading "Referees", note that referees are available on request. Once you have been interviewed you can offer details of referees. It is a courtesy to advise referees that they may be contacted. It is also a valuable opportunity to tell them briefly about the position, what it involves and to gently remind them of your relevant skills.
Sometimes a job advertisement or position description will specifically ask for the names of referees to be included with your application. In such cases, of course, include them.
A good resume is as brief as possible. Only include items listed below if they will truly strengthen your application.
- Professional training
- Professional affiliations and memberships
- Licences and accreditations
- Knowledge of foreign languages
- Special accomplishments such as awards
Ideally, tailor your resume for each application you submit. Every job is unique and requires a different mix of skills and experience. Don't focus your resume on what you want. Instead, understand the needs and problems facing the employer. Research the company and industry to work out what problems and challenges the company faces. If you are responding to an advertised vacancy, read the ad closely to identify what issues or problems the successful candidate needs to solve.
Next, go through your work history, retrieving the skills and experience most relevant to this employer and position. Summarise or leave out those parts of your work history which won 't help you get the job. Essentially, you are emphasising some skills and achievements and de -emphasising others. Don't lie.
As part of this process, give some thought to what tone to use in your application. For example, aggressively selling yourself may suit a high-powered sales role. A graphic artist might want to develop a resume that reflects their creativity.
Once you have written the resume be sure to get somebody you trust to read it. An objective opinion can help improve your resume, but keep in mind that there are many different ideas about the ideal presentation. Weigh advice carefully (including ours).
"… tailor your resume for each application you submit"
There are two main ways to organise your resume:
- Chronological structure: The chronological resume is the most common way of structuring your information. It lists your work experience and achievements in each job, beginning with the most recent.
- Hybrid model: The hybrid format highlights your strengths by placing your skills, experience and abilities at the beginning, and a chronologically ordered list of experience toward the end, as in this example.
See examples of each of these styles in the next section, below. Each format is suited to different circumstances, which are listed here:
|Your status||Resume type|
The most relevant work experience was not the most recent.
|The hybrid model is best because it orders according to skills and experience but still has the dates.|
I'm changing industries.
|The hybrid option is the best because it can highlight the transferable skills that are relevant to the position.|
I'm changing companies within the same industry.
|The chronological resume is the best in this situation. It shows a career path clearly and shows that you are career-minded.|
I want to move into a related industry. For example: photography into multimedia.
|A chronological CV shows how your career has developed over the years and that your career change is a logical step.|
I want to return to a previous role eg, a technical person that entered management but wanted to go back to being technical.
|The hybrid resume is the best because it stresses the job where they would prefer to continue their career rather than which was the most recent job.|
I've had several positions in the same organisation and would now like to focus on one functional area.
|The hybrid resume is perfect because the candidate can focus on the functional area that was preferred even if it wasn't the most recent.|
I'm re-entering the workforce.
|The hybrid option is perfect because it draws on and emphasises the skills and experience the person may have picked up while not working or before leaving the workforce.|
I've been in the same job for years and I'm scared the employer will think I'm unambitious or unmotivated.
|The hybrid resume is the best in this situation because it focuses on the skills learnt rather that the jobs over a time period.|
I tend to jump around a lot between jobs.
|The hybrid resume will 'package' the transferable skills of this person.|
I'm a graduate with little experience.
|The hybrid option is perfect because it draws on and emphasises the skills and experience the graduate may have picked up while studying doing internships or part-time jobs. It is also a good idea to emphasise training and education over non-related work experience.|
|Mobile phone:||0750 000 0000|
Marketing Manager (Mosul) - 2007-present time
The Food Emporium
- Manage a staff of 18 people
- Liaise with advertising agencies (above and below the line) and brief in all campaigns
- Responsible for $15 million dollar advertising budget and $80 million turnover
- Launched two new brands onto national market gaining 15 per cent and 22 per cent market share respectively within two years, earning the MIA's 2001 Award for Best New Product.
- Generated over $200,000 of free trade-journal publicity
Marketing Research Manager - 2002-2007
Di Pastio Pasta Products (Erbil)
- Co-ordinate focus groups with key market segments (2/month)
- Brief Market Research Field Teams (15 teams of 5 people) to conduct in-store demonstrations
- Manage telemarketing team of 40 staff, inbound and outbound
- Write and present benchmark reports for CEO and Board of Directors, with findings being used as the basis for a brand extension that resulted in sales of $2.5 million in the last financial year.
University of Kurdistan, Bachelor of Business (Marketing) 2005
Associate Diploma in Marketing 2001
Platforms: Apple, Windows
Software: MS Windows Vista, MS Office, Adobe PageMaker.
Typing: 65 WPM
Train the Trainer Accreditation
- Co-author of seven articles for "Marketing Management" magazine
- Key note speaker at the International MIA Annual Conference attended by 2,500 industry professionals
- Board Member for "Life Skills For Youth" organisation and head of Mentoring Programme.
- Arabic (fluent in speech and written)
Available on request.
|Mobile phone:||0750 000 0000|
OBJECTIVE: Senior Marketing Manager
Nine years in sales and marketing with a broad range of experience from ground-floor sales and merchandising to marketing management with an international producer and exporter of fine food and wine.
Managed a marketing team of 18 people, telemarketing teams of 75 people and was responsible for a $15 million dollar advertising budget. Responsible for the client/agency liaison between mainstream, below-the-line and data management agencies. Responsible for the overall profitability of five brands, four of which are market leaders in both share and volume.
Launched two brands onto the national market with each brand gaining a market share of 15 per cent and 22 per cent respectively within two years.
Prepared quarterly and annual budget reports. Presented and reviewed the forecasts to senior management and represented the management team at the International MIA Conference held in Dubai last December.
Co-ordinated focus groups (24 per year) and managed a team of 75 in-store market researchers to conduct field demonstrations. Presented research findings to management teams, which used the information as the basis for their product development plans, resulting in the extension of a brand that brought in sales of $2.1 million in the 2008-2009 financial year.
Ground floor experience in sales and merchandising with international fast-moving packaged goods company. Territory Manager for Kurdistan region covering 78 stores, 12 product lines and approximately 28 sales promotional events per year.
The Food Emporium
Marketing Manager (Mosul)
|Duties:||Responsible for a team of 18 people with an advertising budget of $15 million spread over 5 product lines. Chief liaison between client and agency and responsible for branding and product awareness. Increased turnover to $80 million dollars in the last financial year, a 15 per cent increase and was awarded the MIA's 2001 Best New Product. Generated over $200,000 of free trade-journal publicity in the last year.|
Di Pastio Pasta Products (Erbil)
Marketing Research Manager
Responsible for the management, co-ordination, recruitment and placement of 75 in-store demonstrators including an in-bound and out-bound telemarketing survey conducted in conjunction with the sampling demonstrations. Presented research findings to CEO level and was instrumental in the development of a new brand extension which resulted in a profit of $2.1 million for the company.
University of Kurdistan, Bachelor of Business (Marketing), 2002
Associate Diploma in Marketing, 1999
Available on request.
- Use a common and easily read font – stick to one font.
- Make best use of available space.
- Use page numbers (except on the front page).
- Check and recheck spelling and grammar.
- Use a tiny font size or lines of italic.
- Use clip art.
- Include a photograph of yourself.
- Waste paper on a cover sheet.
- Use coloured paper (it won't fax or photocopy clearly).
- Trust your computer spell check