When it comes to job applications, first impressions count. Your CV or resume is the crucial first step in getting your foot in the door of a potential employer. If you wrote a resume a few years back, it probably needs a big overhaul. Resume styles that were in favour in the 80s and 90s are often considered old-fashioned today, and it's important to keep your resume looking fresh.
Determine the style of resume you need. In the U.S., CVs and resumes are two different things: a CV, or curriculum vitae, is a style reserved for academics--those applying for university research posts, for example. A resume, as the name suggests, is a more common, briefer version, favoured by business and industry employers.
Decide your application method. Microsoft Word is by far the most common software used to produce resumes, and some employers request you send only .doc file types. If you're a creative type and want to showcase your design skills, consider producing your resume in desktop publishing software such as Adobe InDesign and saving it as a PDF to send to employers.
If you're seeking something totally new, you could opt to create an audio or video resume. Multimedia resumes are a new concept in job applications; producing one requires a bit of technical know-how, but it could really help you stand out in a crowd.
Consider presentation. When an employer first opens your resume, the first thing he will notice is presentation. Consider the font and size of your text. You could opt for a more traditional font such as Times New Roman or a more modern font such as Arial or Calibri. Choose a text size anywhere from 8 to 12 points to ensure the copy is legible when your resume is printed out. In addition, make sure your resume runs to no more than two pages. It's important to be concise.
Determine the format. There are two common resume styles: functional and chronological. A chronological resume is the most common, and it lists your jobs over the past 10 or so years. This is particularly suitable if you have a strong career history where you progressed in seniority. Functional resumes, on the other hand, are more skills-based and are better suited to those who have a patchy career history or wish to change careers.
Start from the top. Name, address, phone number and e-mail address should appear at the top.
A statement is a common second section on a resume. This is simply a sentence or paragraph about you, your history and your career aim; for example: "Experienced marketing executive with extensive PR skills and experience in the construction sector seeks management role."
Professional experience and education commonly appear next. Write both sections chronologically, listing your most recent job and education establishment first, including dates. In the case of your professional experience, write a summary of your key activities in each job and make it results-focused: "Beat 2009 sales targets by 10 per cent," for example, or "Awarded salesperson of the year 2009 in the annual company awards."
Use a skills section to list your specific skills or knowledge. This includes any software packages you're familiar with and the level of your proficiency.
Finally, professional development and volunteer experience are handy concluding sections. Professional development is a chance to list any relevant training courses you have attended, while volunteer experience is useful to include if you don't have much professional work experience.
Edit and proofread your draft. When you've finished your resume, always check it for spelling and grammar before sending to a potential employer.
If possible, get a friend to cast an eye over your finished resume. A second pair of eyes will help you hone your writing style and spot any spelling or grammar issues.