A resume is among the most important things to have when looking for a new job. Whether you’re looking for your first employment or you’re seeking a new opportunity elsewhere, a resume will be your ticket to getting that new position. With so many people dissatisfied with their jobs nowadays, it is perhaps unsurprising that the 2016 South African job market is one filled with people looking to move companies, positions, and professions. As such, a good many people are undertaking the stressful task of filling out new job applications, and this includes writing up a resume.
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What Does a Resume Include?
A resume is, quite simply, your professional, educational, and extracurricular life on paper. If is you in a nutshell, and is the first impression that a prospective employer, hiring agent, or recruiter is going to get of you. However, fitting your entire life experience onto a simple document is no mean feat, particularly when you are trying to make yourself stand out while also keeping things concise and professional. As unfortunate as it might sound, resume writing is not a skill that is widely taught in schools and is something that many people feel unprepared to do. So what exactly should a resume consist of? How should you structure it? Here is a general breakdown of the elements a resume should ideally embody.
First and foremost a resume has to be filled with all the relevant content that will demonstrate your skills, education, and aptitude for the position for which you are applying. The key areas to focus upon are work experience and history, a summary of your relevant education and qualifications, any extracurricular or everyday achievements, and – perhaps most importantly – words that demonstrate your aptitude for the type of work which you are seeking. A good resume should tell an employer in the space of one or two pages that you have the necessary skill set and drive to undertake the task at hand.
Secondly, this information cannot simply be regurgitated onto a page. Proper formatting will help keep your resume readable, engaging, and – above all else – easy to refer to for a prospective employer. It is important to format your resume in a way which reflects you and the way you work. For some, a chronological list is best. For others, grouping items together by category works best. For the rest, a combination of the two produces the desired result. Formatting a resume is entirely subjective, and should be done in a way that best suits you as a candidate.
Last, but certainly not least, is the appearance of your resume. You can create your own resume from scratch, or you can make use of the myriad free and premium templates offered here to produce a resume that does you proud.
Looks Are Important
Of course, the most important element of a resume is the content presented within, as this is the information that ultimately describes a candidate’s aptitude. However, presentation is also an incredibly important factor to consider. If you go to a store and the inventory is presented in a dull or disorganized manner, you will most likely lose interest in browsing, or simply be unable to find what you’re looking for and end up looking elsewhere. Apply the same thinking to your resume, as this is precisely the thought process that employers will be experiencing while going through it.
Employers and recruiters look at hundreds – sometimes thousands – of resumes when looking for a suitable applicant to fill a position. Many of these resumes will simply end up being tossed aside after a cursory glance, as the decision-making process has to be swift. In the majority of cases, candidates are adequately qualified and therefore employers will not be interested in reading through the distinguishing features in detail. Instead, in the few seconds that it receives attention from a hiring manager, the resume needs to catch their attention through superior design. This seemingly superficial feature is something that can save your resume from the scrap heap, and ensure that it warrants a second look.
So what can you do to ensure that your resume is the one that catches an employer’s attention? How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd of so many applicants who are all qualified? The important thing to do is to make yourself noticeable. If your resume does nothing but list your experience without saying a thing about you, it is likely to end up on the pile with the rest of them. An organized and structured resume which is neatly arranged and well-presented will turn a cursory scan into a full read. Making sure to put your best foot forwards, highlighting the most important and relevant education and achievements, will also ensure that you as a candidate stand out.
Of course, resumes can end up being over-designed. An over-designed resume is one which makes use of excessive art, color, or excruciatingly detailed organization which can make you appear somewhat eccentric. On a resume, everything must be balanced perfectly to achieve the desired effect.
Resume Samples – Pros and Cons
Resume templates can be helpful in a number of ways. They are expressly designed to organize and structure your resume’s content in order to present it in a manner that is at once professional and personal. Since templates come pre-designed there is no need for you to pour your own time into creating and tweaking a layout, allowing you to focus on other things such as finding jobs and filling the resume. Templates are easy-to-read, professional, and consistent.
Some recruiters would advise that you not use a resume template, as the saturation of resume templates in the recruiting space can sometimes lead to your resume appearing almost identical to someone else’s, with both of them winding up back on the pile. If you pick a popular generic sample such as those built into your word processing software, this can be a real problem. Recruiters are going to catch a generic resume very easily, and it could significantly damage your chances of landing a job. The trick is to use a template as a base for your resume, allowing it to act as a foundation upon which you build by changing fonts, layouts, and other elements to create a resume that is uniquely yours. In 2016, hundreds of generic resume templates have been in use for a long time, so it is important that you ensure yours stands out from the crowd.
There are countless resume templates to be found upon entering a search term into a search engine. Searching through all of these results can cost you a lot of time and effort that should be spent on the job search, which can lead to further frustration. Similarly, many of the templates offered are either generic or expensive, with many more being too broad in their scope or too narrow. As such, you have to be careful when looking for a template online, as the process is often more complicated than you might think.
Here at VacanciesBox, we have a selection of free resume templates for you to select from. Using one of our designs as a base, you can quickly get to work on crafting the resume to secure that new job, all without costing you a penny. These templates are compatible with Microsoft Word, so you can easily get to creating your resume in software that you know. The base designs are functional, professional, and attractive enough to form a coherent base upon which to build the resume to land you that new job.
Picking the Right Template For You
There are a few things you need to consider when picking a template for your job search:
- First: Your resume has to fit the expectation of the industry in which you’re searching. For example, something that is appropriate for a job in HR is not necessarily going to help you stand out in the field of graphic design.
- Second: The type of job you are applying for should influence the design you choose. It should highlight the skills and experience that are required by the job for which you are applying, as a resume that embodies these elements will show a recruiter that you are ideally suited to the job. This can save your resume from the pile and keep it in the hands of a recruiter.
- Third: A resume template, ultimately, has to be something that resonates with you. As mentioned above, a resume is a reflection of you, so a resume has to reflect your experiences and preferences. Having a personal touch which is reflected by the content and design of your resume is something that can help to put an image of you as a professional into the mind of a prospective employer, and ultimately can help you to stand out from the crowd. A bland or mismatched design can ultimately give a poor impression, so it is important that you like the design you end up choosing.