2021 Resume Writing Tips

2021 Resume Writing Tips

Tips for writing your resume in 2021

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By Joel Smith

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Resume writing tips for your 2021 resume

Resume trends change over time. Maybe a little less than you would think, but there are still trends. In this article, we’ve outlined some quick tips for those of you sitting down right now to write your resume. These are the essential tips that apply to every resume, from a graduate level resume through to CEO level. All the resumes we write align with these tips, and yours should too.

Remember to follow us for more resume writing tips, or check out our quote request form and let us do the hard work for you!

Length

Length is a major problem with a lot of the resumes we see. So how long should yours be? 

Your resume should be two pages. At a stretch, it can be three. The average number of applications received per job is about 15. But, it can easily reach as many as 4,000 applications per job – particularly for entry level jobs. Even if there are only fifteen applicants, that’s at least 30 pages of resume. This means that no recruiter is reading more than two to three pages of your resume anyway. So, the two or three pages you send in should be short, sharp, to the point, and contain only the best of your experience.

It doesn’t matter if you’re senior and have a lot of experience. In fact, we’ve written plenty of resumes at the CEO level that come in at two pages. If anything, it’s even more important that you keep it short. This is because your audience is also senior, and they have even less time to be reading 10-page resumes. You can and should find a way to shorten historical content and spend less space on the less important information. Any job older than 10 years ago can be put into a table with only the job title, organisation, and tenure dates. Recruiters will understand what you did 10 years ago from this information alone, and can spend their limited reading time focusing on your recent and more impressive achievements.

The only exception we have found for this is senior medical practitioners and academics. For these two careers, a resume can be pushed to four pages. The fourth page is, essential, appropriately referenced publications and presentations / attendance at national conferences which relate to the profession.  

Sections of Your Resume

We’ve written about what you should include on your resume before, but as an update, your resume should include the following sections in 2021.

Skills Summary

At the top of your first page, you should summarise the skills that you have acquired across all your jobs. For example, if you’ve held various administration jobs, you key skills will likely be something like administration, communication, relationship management and project management. You should include a description of each skills, specific to your experience. For example, you might write something like:

ADMINISTRATION: Demonstrated expertise managing complex administrative processes, include identifying and acting on opportunities to improve process efficiency and effectiveness.

Keep it to about five or six key skills that you have built up through all your previous jobs.

Career History

This is useful if you’re 10 or more years into your career and you’ve held a few different jobs. It should just be a table that lists your job titles, the organisation you were with, and your tenure. This should sit below the skills summary. This means that on the first page, the recruiters will be able to see, at a glance, a summary of your skills and experience.

Professional Experience

This is where you detail your experience. Jobs should still be listed in reverse chronological order.

Include detail only on the most relevant positions. For example, if you’ve worked in hospitality, had a stint in administration, and are looking to go back to into hospitality, you should limit the detail on the administration roles.

Additionally, don’t focus on your duties; instead, focus on achievements. These should be measurable and important outcomes that you can stand behind as successes. For example, if you were an IT project manager, listing in heavy detail that you managed projects, communicated with people, and lead a team of officers is not very impactful. This is because that can be assume from the position title. Instead, list duties briefly and spend more time on achievements. An achievement can be dot pointed as well, as in the below example:

  • Managed a national project to implement a new financial management information system, including managing tender and selection, technical implementation, organisational training, and ongoing system administration.

Education

Simply table your qualification title, the institution, and the year you received the qualification.

Professional Development

Also tabled, list professional development courses, conferences, and presentations in reverse chronological order. Include the title, institution, and year.

References

Generally, you shouldn’t put “available on request.” If you’re submitting your resume anywhere, you should already have spoken to your references, and they should be expecting a call. Therefore, there should be no reason not to include them. Additionally, most recruiters implicitly or explicitly request reference details when they ask for a resume. So they have already been requested.

Include the references name, their position title, their relationship to you (e.g, previous manager), their organisation, their email, and their phone number.

These are the basic sections, but others can be relevant. Namely, sections like publications, technical skills sections, volunteering, board positions held, and more. But again, keep it to 2-3 pages.

Photos, Dates of Birth, Interests

Do not include a photo, date of birth, or interests on your resume. There are two reasons:

  • They are not necessary. This is because your age, date of birth, and interests do not relate to your ability to do the job. They or not skills or knowledge, and therefore are not important to the recruiter.
  • They open you up to discrimination. Combatting unconscious bias – instantaneous micro-decisions based on stereotypes – has been a focus in recruitment for years now. Don’t add to the confusion by including this information which will only serve to increase unconscious bias.

SEO Principles, Formatting, & Language

Finally, we must remind you to use SEO and copywriting principles for your resume. These are critical to ensuring your resume is as easy to engage with as possible. You only have 6-10 seconds to make an impact on the reader, so it’s essential that your formatting, language, and content hierarchy don’t get in the way of the content.

Remember to follow us for more resume writing tips, or check out our quote request form and let us do the hard work for you!

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