Your resume is never a ‘one size fits all’ document. Every job you apply for needs a tailored resume. Here are our guidelines to writing an interview winning resume and our tips on what to include when applying for remote jobs.
We’ll be honest with you. We’re not a big fan of resumes. In the connected digital world that we live in, where marketing is all about social media, online branding, hyperlinks and sharing online content (and your resume is a form of marketing), one would think the traditional resume is dead in the water. Well, they might be on their way out, but they’re not dead yet. The majority of employers still ask for a resume when applying for a job. So until they stop asking, you need to keep producing one.
Here are some tips on how to write an interview winning resume for your next job application – and what to include to demonstrate you have the right qualities for a remote job.
1. Read the job description thoroughly
This is an obvious one, but it’s surprising how many people neglect to read a job description thoroughly and end up applying for a job that is not right for them. If the employer has specifically asked for 6 years experience in a similar role and you only have 1 year, then don’t waste your time. Save your energy and apply for jobs that are a closer fit.
Some employers deliberately include a small request in their job description just to keep you on your toes. For example, they might ask you to insert a specific word somewhere in your application. Or they might ask you to answer a particular question in your cover letter. This allows the hiring manager to perform the first cut of candidates. So, regardless of how beautifully crafted your resume might be, if you miss the trick you’ll fall into the reject pile.
2. Write your Personal Value Proposition
Nowadays, it’s your personal value proposition, or PVP, that hiring managers want to see at the top of a resume – not the out-dated objective statement telling employers what you ‘want’ in a job.
Your PVP is the “one two punch” for your distinctive qualities and personal brand. Don’t hide behind meaningless facts, like how many years experience you have, or the qualifications and letters you have after your name – so do 100 other candidates, join the queue!
Your personal USP is meant to be a short, succinct sentence describing who you are, your biggest strength and the tangible results the company will gain from hiring you. In other words, what can your qualities bring to the remote workplace that others can’t? And it’s not just about what you have to ‘offer’, it’s more about what the company ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ for the role.
Many find this the most difficult part of writing a resume. It does require a lot of thought, so spend some time getting this right.
This article will step you through the process: Build Your Personal Value Proposition
3. Find keywords to get through Applicant Tracking Systems
The keywords included in your resume provide the hiring manager with important information about you, the job seeker. But that’s not all, nowadays many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to do the first cull of candidates. An ATS performs a keyword scan of your resume, so if you don’t include keywords relevant to the role you’re applying for, your resume will hit the reject pile and you won’t even get a look in.
Resume expert, Natalie Severt, explains how best to do your keyword research in this article on Zety: 6 Proven Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description.
Natalie suggests starting your keywords list with a “master list of your skills”; writing down all of the skills you have, even those that are unrelated to the job. Then, rank them from strongest to most valuable.
Next, mine keywords from the job description. Simply print out a hard copy of the job posting, grab yourself a pen, and mark all of the skills and experience listed as requirements for the role.
If the job posting is short and sweet with very little in the way of keywords, visit the company’s careers page or about page on their website, or visit their LinkedIn page. You might find keywords there that relate to the culture of the organisation and the qualities they look for in their employees.
Ok, done – now you have your keywords!
And remember to repeat the process of mining for keywords every time you apply for a job so you can tailor your resume accordingly – your resume is not a ‘one-size fits all’!
4. Think about the qualities employers look for in remote workers
When it comes to remote work, hiring managers want to know whether you are the right fit for working remotely. Simply listing previous work from home jobs isn’t quite enough. You need to demonstrate to the potential employer that your performance in a remote environment will deliver results of equal or greater value than if you were working in the office.
Did you make a positive impact on the company? What specific things did you accomplish while working remotely that you may not have accomplished if you were working in the office? For example, perhaps you increased sales revenue, provided support to more customers, or successfully launched products while managing a remote team of freelancers.
For remote work, employers typically look for individuals who are self-motivated, have good time management skills, are disciplined, mature, strong communicators, tech savvy, and emotionally intelligent. So in your resume, be sure to include the ways in which you have applied some of these traits in previous jobs, whether they were remote or office-based roles.
This article will give you more information about the qualities employers look for when hiring remote teams: Top Qualities of a Stellar Remote Team
5. Decide on a resume format
Before you begin writing, you need to decide on the type of resume format that will be most appropriate for you. Here are some guidelines from the Interview Guys, Best Resume Format Guide 2016:
Reverse Chronological Format: Up until recent years, this was considered a global standard as it was the most widely used format for presenting your resume – essentially just a chronological listing of everything you’ve done, from the current date and working backwards. This format is best for people who have had a steady career path in the same field for a long period of time as employers can see the career progression in an easy-to-read, chronological order. A reverse chronological resume would typically include your value proposition statement, experience/qualifications and education, in that order.
Functional Resume Format: This type of resume format is tailored more to the role you’re applying for. It’s function is to highlight your unique skills and abilities that relate specifically to the job. Functional resumes are good for people who have gaps in their work history or for those transitioning to a completely new career. This format is also good for people just entering the workforce because it highlights skills versus past work history. A functional resume would typically include your value proposition statement, achievements/accomplishments, experience/qualifications, and education, in that order.
Hybrid (or Combination) Resume Format: You guessed it! This is a combination of both the chronological and functional formats. This is more commonly seen as the format of choice nowadays because it combines all the best parts of both formats. This format is also great for those transitioning to a new career and for those who are experts in their field. The hybrid format would include your value proposition statement, achievements/accomplishments, experience/qualifications, and education, in that order.
Some additional tips when it comes to formatting your resume:
Resume Length: There are different trains of thought on what the ideal length of a resume should be. Some experts say it should be kept to one single-sided page. Others say it can be whatever length is needed in order to convey value. But a word of caution: initially a recruiter will spend an average of between 6 and 15 seconds reading a resume. So if it’s too long and over-wordy, it will just be thrown away. Use bullet points to conserve space and improve readability, and don’t waste time stating the obvious. Keep it professional and succinct.
Font Type: This is another important factor. The fonts you choose can say a lot about your style and level of professionalism. According to Business News Daily, it’s best to use a standard, universal font that displays well on any screen. Arial and Calibri fonts are most commonly used because they are easy on the eye, clear, legible and scalable. But there are many other serif fonts (with the curly ends) and sans-serif fonts that are appropriate as well including Didot, Garamond, Georgia, Helvetica, Times New Roman, and Trebuchet MS, among others.
Font Size: Between 10.5 and 12 points is recommended, depending on the font type you choose. But don’t go smaller because it will be difficult to read.
Margins: It might be tempting to decrease the margins of your resume page, in order to conserve more space, but don’t make them too narrow. Your resume format will look better with no less than 1.5cm top, bottom, left and right.
6. Write your resume and tailor it to the job
Ok, so now you can collate all of the information you have gathered, begin writing your resume and tailor it to the role. When incorporating your keywords think about their placement based on the types of skills they are. For example, mandatory skills (the job-related skills) should appear towards the top of the experience or skills section so on quick glance they stand out to the employer. The transferable skills (soft skills) and adaptive skills (life skills) can follow on from that.
As an added note, just be careful when adding the keywords to your resume – don’t overdo it. You still need your resume to read well and your writing style to sound natural – not appear as though you’ve just stuffed it full of keywords to beat the system.
7. Include relevant activities and interests
Including activities and interests can be a good way to add some personality to your resume. Some experts stress they should only be included if they relate in some way to the skills and abilities you’ll need to perform the job, and have a positive impact on the role. However, nowadays many employers (particularly those who are remote-friendly) are interested in hiring people who have a life outside of work. After all, the company is providing a remote job to give you better work-life balance – the workaholic types who work crazy hours and burn the midnight oil are losing their appeal to employers. So if there are particular activities and interests you are passionate about and like to do in your spare time, you can include them if you have the space. Just skip anything controversial, religious or politically motivated unless of course it’s specifically related to the job.
8. Proof-read more than once
In fact, triple check everything – a resume should be given the same amount of attention as a wedding invitation! Any errors will just leave a bad impression.
Check for spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar, messy formatting and errors in dates or contact details. Better still, have someone else also check over it for you – sometimes when you’ve spent a long time looking at a document, your eyes skip over things.
You can also use Jobscan’s free online ATS simulator to check the keywords in your resume against applicant tracking systems. It’s quick and easy to use and provides a score and tips on ways to improve your resume.