Composition Elements of a resume
by Kyla Milette
Writing a resume that stands out from the rest.
Writing the perfect resume is much more than merely stating your work history and listing your skills and qualifications. Attention to detail is essential, and so is relevance. Even elements that may appear to be insignificant must be carefully considered and could mean the difference between landing an interview or being cast aside with the horde of forgotten applicants.
Carefully crafted CVs or resumes pay close attention to their composition framework, focussing on facilitating quick and effortless transfer of information to hiring managers. Some key areas you can hone in on to refine your CV include:
- Personal and Contact Information
- Position Title
- Profile and Personal Summary
- Relevant Experience
By examining and refining these compositional elements, you are much more likely to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of securing an interview. In this article, we’ll outline some simple steps to employment success with practical tips you can implement right away.
Personal & Contact Information
Seems pretty straight-forward, right? Surprisingly this section of the resume tends to be one of the most overlooked, and it really shouldn’t be. This is your opportunity for a first impression, where you introduce yourself to recruiters and potential employers.
Firstly, make sure your name is consistent with the legal name on your ID. Shortened names as a preference are okay, but nicknames should always be avoided.
Remember to include your full address. Many resumes skimp on address details opting to include only postal or zip codes. However, this critical piece of information enables recruiters to determine if a commute will be necessary. In this case, keep in mind that they may ask you if you have reliable transportation.
Contact information, like your phone number and email address, is essential. Be sure to include your area code with your phone number. Also, ask yourself if your email address appears professional. Save your old firstname.lastname@example.org account for online subscriptions. A professional email should include your full name in some fashion. E.g., email@example.com. In the highly likely event that your name is unavailable as an email address, consider the use of up to 2 digits as a distinguisher. Any more than that will lessen its professionalism.
Having a link to your LinkedIn profile is a helpful addition that gives recruiters the chance to explore your professional interests and get to know you a little better.
While they may already be showcased on your LinkedIn profile, it’s helpful to include any professional designations you’ve received from previous employers or communities relevant to the industry you’re applying for.
Having a position title is an important aspect of your CV. It’s what defines you as a professional in the workforce and shows recruiters you’re confident in your potential role and expertise. It’s expected that your title either matches the position you are applying for, or at least indicates something similar. If your skills and experience allowed you to play multiple roles within an organization, ensure that you highlight the position title by adapting it accordingly with every application you send out. This may sound tedious, but recruiters must be confident that you see yourself as a good fit for the position. Some job boards and firms also tend to run resumes through a keyword search, looking almost exclusively for applicants who see themselves in that particular role.
Profile/ Personal Summary
So now we’re on to the meat and potatoes of your resume. Your profile and personal summary are where you highlight your experience, skills, and accomplishments. This is where you really get the chance to shine. For these points, you want to ensure that EVERYTHING you include is relevant to the job description you are applying for. The recruiting process’s infamous automated keyword search will favour resumes with the most matches to the job description. Ensure that you include some contextual terms or buzzwords to show your familiarity with the industry as well.
Be sure to include both technical and soft skills. Technical skills refer to specific knowledge, abilities and training, such as data analysis, coding or other technical proficiencies. Soft skills rather, refer to behavioural attributes and personality traits like communication and problem solving. In addition to these, any language skills you may have should go here as well.
Any accomplishments you’ve had in past roles are good to include in your summary as well. Were you able to see a problem and find a solution that resulted in a favourable result for the company, such as increasing sales by X%? Include that! Recruiters want to see that your accomplishments and past projects are quantified in some way to demonstrate impact. These will show what we call your Value Proposition or Unique Selling Points (USPs), which will help you stand out amongst the competition.
For your relevant experience, ensure that it’s just that, relevant. If you don’t have sufficient past roles pertinent to the advertised job, perhaps due to a career switch, try to highlight only the applicable tasks and skills. It’s vital that your years of relevant experience match up with those required in the job description. If the job asks for three years of experience, ensure the total years of work history reflect that.
Ensure your experience is listed in chronological order, with the most recent listed at the top. You should also include the start and end dates, with both month and year. Be sure to include the location, city and country, as well.
A desirable candidate will have very few gaps between jobs and show that each job was held for a considerable length of time.
Like everything else you’ve read thus far, your education information should showcase relevance to your industry and preferred role.
Including your high school education is unnecessary. If your post-secondary certification or diploma is not a match to the post you are applying for, try to show key courses that have given you applicable knowledge and training. Any volunteer work included must also be aligned to the job description.
Relevant professional association memberships or professional publications can be listed here as well.
Hobbies and personal interests are not a must on your resume. The inclusion of hobbies on a resume is usually best kept for recent graduates and other candidates with little to no work experience, as opposed to managers or executives. However, if you have any that you think would be relevant to the job description, they’re always nice to have. For example, for a data analyst role, an excellent hobby to include might be playing chess.
Contrary to popular belief, references should not be added to a CV, and neither should the phrase “references available upon request.” Recruiters will contact you for references if you are successful in the interview process.
Try to approach your resume thoughtfully and concisely. It’s important not to neglect any of these elements out of fear of not having enough experience. Identify the relevant skills and experiences you’ve gained in the past, and show how applying them will make you perfect for the role.
For many individuals, resume building is a challenging task to tackle on their own. If you’re still feeling uneasy about crafting a compelling resume, there are many resume writing services available, offering full-service step-by-step resume crafting or simply providing advice to set you on the right track.
Your resume is your springboard into the job market. When crafted with care, it’s your best chance to make a lasting and positive first impression. From there, it’s up to you to wow potential employers during the interview and land that dream job you’ve always wanted!
DIGITAL STRATEGIST & DESIGNER
My name is Melanie and I help companies and individuals build their brand authority and visibility