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How to write a resume

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Firstly, what is a resume?

A resume is a document that you submit to a prospective employer which will contain details regarding your background, education, qualifications and work experience.

Your resume needs to be clear, concise, readable and relevant. By following these easy steps, you will be able to put together a resume which is going to catch the attention of the prospective employer and entice them to want to invite you for an interview.


What resume style should you use?

There are three main resume styles to choose from:

Functional - a functional resume is going to highlight the particular skill set you have to offer and why these skills make you the ideal candidate for the position you are applying for. Write a short objective offering some insight into your skills and then list your work experience, education and any other information like hobbies, volunteer work etc., which may be relevant to the position for which you are applying.

If you have had any gaps in your employment history or you are considering a change of career path, then this functional resume will focus the attention of the potential employer on the skills you have to offer.

Chronological - this format will highlight your work experience, write a short summary or objective. List your professional experience working in reverse order, details of your education and then any other information, for example, hobbies, volunteer work etc.

You could use this format if you have had a consistent work history showing a clear advancement in your career and if the position you are applying for is in a similar field or industry.

Combination - as the name implies, this format combines the functional and chronological style to highlight what you have to offer. After a concise objective, you can summarize your relevant skills and then list your work experience and education. With this more flexible format, you can decide whether to present your work experience or skills first, depending on what you feel would be of interest to the prospective employer. This format is useful if you are considering a change in your career as it can show your diversity.

If the company has an applicant tracking system, using one of these formats will ensure that your application is processed successfully through an ATS review.


How to format your resume?

Your main objective when writing your resume should be to present yourself in a professional, concise and enticing document. The format you have chosen should make it easy for the recruiter to find pertinent information by just glancing at your application.

Basic formatting should include appropriate page margins, use a professional and easily readable font between 10-12 points, you may need to adjust this to keep your document to one page. Make use of section headers and bullet points to draw attention to pertinent information and keep the entire presentation to one page.


What information to include in your resume?

Contact information - here you will include your full name, phone number, e-mail address and, if relevant, links to any of your online or social media profiles such as Linkedin. You can use a slightly larger font in bold for this section, to make sure the information stands out.

Summary - a summary consists of a short paragraph which gives a brief description of your experience, skills and qualities to show the recruiter why you are suitable for the position being offered. This summary is ideal to show off your work experience and skills.

Objective - this is a short concise paragraph which will emphasis the talents and skills you have which align you with the requirements of the job on offer, and clearly states your career goals. You should use this if you have limited professional experience, if you are new to the job market or if you are returning after an absence from your career.

Technical and Interpersonal skills - after reviewing the job description you can identify the key aspects the recruiter may be looking for. Taking these into account you can now use keywords to list your technical and interpersonal skills which will convince them that you are a great fit for the job. If you are considering a change in industry or career, then you can list any transferable skills you may have.

Professional history - using keywords you can now display your professional history in reverse-chronological order. Each position should include the name of the company which you worked for, the time period you were employed, the title of the position which you held, a brief description of your duties and any noteworthy achievements. Be sure to expand a little bit on the jobs which are particularly relevant to the position you are applying for. If your professional history is a bit sparse you can also include relevant volunteering or internships which you may have done.

Education - include the name of the institutions with which you have studied, dates of details of the courses and level of education you received, for example, degree, diploma etc. If you have any additional accreditations, certificates or licences you may have.

Additional information - if you have space left after you have covered all of the above information then you can 'pad' your resume with any other achievements or interests you may have which may be relevant to the position on offer and which support the career goals you have set out in the rest of the document.


Once you have completed your resume, make sure you read it through and check for any grammar or spelling mistakes. If it is more than one page, you can review your paragraphs and shorten them where necessary. It is also a good idea to get a trusted friend or mentor to read it through and give you objective feedback from an outside perspective.

Sample résumé - The most consulted over the last 30 days

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