15 simple tips to write a great resume

by | Apr 23, 2021

A resume is the first contact point between you and the interviewer.

The interviewer’s first impression of you is from your resume.

A good resume will help you stand out from the other applicants by highlighting your strengths and your compatibility with the position.

In this article, we will provide you with some tips to write a great resume!

Use keywords to write an effective resume

A one-size-fits-all resume might not hit all the points that some employers are looking for.

It is important to read through the job description, advertisement or/and company’s website to better understand what the employer is looking for and identify certain keywords.

Employers have to go through many resumes and applications and they only scan through the resumes looking for specific keywords.

Some employers even use computers to sift out resumes. 

Hence, by identifying and including keywords found in the job description in your resume, you can attract the employer.

    2.) Speak their language

    Speak their language to write an effective resume

    Your resume summary is where you give a brief introduction of yourself in two to three sentences.

    It should explain why you are a good fit for the position by mentioning relevant experiences and skills.

    Keep in mind that it has to be relevant. If you were a national fencer and a computer science student applying to be an algorithm engineer intern.

    And the job description includes:

    • Modern C++ development experience. 
    • Able to work with algorithms and data structures.

    A bad example of your summary would look like this:

    “Computer science student and national fencer who has represented Singapore in many events including the Olympics. Multiple podium finishes at the international level including clinching 1st place at the SEA Games.”

    Although your achievements as a national fencer are outstanding. They are not relevant to the job of an algorithm engineer.

    Instead, your resume summary should look like this:

    “Fourth-year computer science student passionate about data analytics, algorithms and data structures. Proficient in C++, Python, and Javascript, having participated in hackathons and Google Kick Start competitions. President of the Computing club.”

    In the above resume summary, I briefly mentioned passions, technical proficiencies, relevant competitions, and a leadership position I hold.

    I was also specific to the job description by mentioning my interest in algorithms and data structures.

    3.) Every experience is valuable

    As a student, you might not have a ton of relevant experience in the industry.

    You can include any past working experiences you have and then mention the soft skills that you picked up since soft skills tend to be transferable. 

    An example: you are applying to be an accountant but previously worked as a receptionist.

    They are different jobs but you learned some soft skills like being detail-oriented and organized.

    Instead of simply mentioning your past receptionist job, state the transferable soft skills you picked up! 

    You can also give details and elaborate about relevant projects you have done in school, or competitions you have participated in.

    4.) Quantify your experiences

    Numbers

    When giving details about work experiences and projects, it is important to give details about your role.

    Quantifying your experiences makes your achievements more measurable in the eyes of the employer

    For example, if you previously interned at a marketing firm, ABC company, then it could look something like this:

    ABC company

    • Assisted with the launch of 5 new products, with total annual revenue of $1 million.
    • Oversaw digital marketing campaigns on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook which led to a 20% increase in sales.

    In the above example, rather than just list down my duties, we quantified the accomplishments.

    For instance, we used numbers to show how the marketing campaigns positively impacted sales.

    5.) Use Action words

    Use Verbs to write an effective resume

    Action words give the impression that you are someone who gets the job done. Rather than saying you are “responsible for”, use verbs instead.

    Using job-specific verbs also makes the filtering process easier for the employer. If the employer is looking for an analyst, you can include the verb “analyzed” in the resume.

    In the above example from the previous tip, instead of saying:
    “Responsible for marketing campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.”

    I said:
    “Oversaw digital marketing campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.”

    6.) Education history

    List your education history

    If you don’t have a good GPA, it’s probably a better idea to leave it out. Instead, mention that you have a degree or diploma.

    You can list the awards you achieved or responsibilities you were given in school like:

    • Certificate of merit
    • First-class honors
    • Dean’s list
    • Being a teaching assistant
    • Relevant projects that you completed
    • Relevant competitions that you participated in or won

    When listing projects, awards, and competitions, make sure they are relevant to the position you are applying for. 

    If you are a student with little work experience, you can also put education history before your professional experience.

    7.) Reverse chronological format

    It is also a good idea to use a reverse-chronological format.

    A reverse-chronological format is one where you list down your most recent experiences first followed by your older experiences.

    According to a 2017 report by Jobvite, recent job experience is the most important hiring factor for 92% of recruiters.

    Having your resume in a reverse chronological format helps highlight your most recent experience.

    8.) Social media

    Social media platforms

    Apart from Linkedin, it may not be a good idea to include your social media in your resume.

    Unless, you are applying to a job in the creative field, and you have posted some of your works on your personal social media account, it’s best to leave it out.

    If you do decide to include your social media, make sure you remove anything that might not be appropriate. This includes tagged photos as well. 

    Also, it’s a good idea to google your name to get an idea of what the interviewer might see. Subsequently, if there’s anything unsightly, try to remove it!

    9.) Keep it to a page

    Keep it to a page gif

    Keep your resume to one page. If you find that your resume is too long, you might want to omit certain non-relevant information.

    Employers have to go through many applications and will probably only scan the first page.

    Keeping to only one-page forces you to have all relevant and important information on one page, where the employer will read it.

    10.) Keep it clean

    You might be tempted by the numerous fancy resume templates out there.

    However, it is important to keep your resume clean and readable. Stay away from distractive elements.

    Here is an example of a good resume template:

    There are however exceptions to this rule if you are in a communications or digital marketing industry where you might need to show your creativity through the design of your resume.

    11.) Resume fonts

    Use the right font

    Text should be black and the font should be something simple like Arial, Calibri, or New Times Roman.

    Limit the resume to a maximum of 2 fonts.

    Make sure your headings are slightly larger and have them stand out more by making them bolded.

    It is also important to make sure the resume is consistent in terms of fonts, font size, and formatting. Otherwise, inconsistencies could reflect poorly on you.

    12.) Omit certain details

    Some details to leave out are:

    • Date of birth
    • Marriage status
    • Photo
    • Gender

    This is to make sure the selection is as objective as possible. Unfortunately, most interviewers will not have the capacity to remove and eliminate unconscious biases.

    For instance, a 2019 study on the resumes of 800 graduates from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that employers generally rated female and minority candidates lower in “get-ability,” meaning that they believed those candidates were less likely to accept a job offer.

    Take note that the study was conducted in the US. Therefore, the results from the study does not necessarily mean that these biases are present in Singapore.

    13.) Past vs Present tense

    Most of your resume should be in the past tense. You should only be using the present tense when you are listing positions you are currently holding or current responsibilities.

    Day-to-day activities should be listed in the present tense since it is still ongoing, while achievements can be listed in the past tense.

    For example:

    • President of Computing club
    • Organize meetings, guest talks, and events
    • Achieved first place at 2020 annual hackathon

    Since organizing meetings, guest talks, and events is an ongoing responsibility, it is written in present tense while “achieved” is in the past tense since it occurred before and is not ongoing.

    14.) Read and read

    Keep reading

    Make sure your resume is free from grammatical and spelling errors. These errors are a huge red flag and reflect badly on you.

    You should also get friends, family, and mentors to proofread it to get an objective perspective.

    One way to do so is to type and share your resume on google docs! The convenience of receiving multiple comments and suggestions will always trump your individual proofreading efforts.

     

    15.) Make an appointment with a career counsellor

    A career counselor and his student

    After you finish your resume, you can consult your career counselors to have them review your resume.

    They can give you valuable tips on how to improve your resume and can point out certain information to include or leave out.

    Most universities and polytechnics have a career counselor for students to consult not just for resumes, but for interview practices and tips as well.

    Closing thoughts

    A resume shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.

    It should be tailored to the particular job or internship you are applying to. This sounds like common sense but common sense is not always common practice.  

    If you successfully follow these 15 simple tips, then writing a great resume shouldn’t be a problem!