You’ve just graduated from the university, and your favorite uncle has just requested to see your resume. In his husky voice and eyeglasses down the tip of his nose, “Send me your resume, and let me see what I can do.” So, here you are, wondering how to write or design a proper one.
Or you may have sent out your resume to multiple employers with no response, leaving you wondering if your resume needs a major upgrade. Well, I’ve got you covered.
As a recent graduate or job seeker with little to no experience, crafting the perfect resume can be a daunting task.
In this article, you will learn some of the best ways to structure your resume and tips to help you create a resume that’s sure to impress your employers.
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The best way to structure your resume
When an employer opens your resume, the first thing they’re likely to notice is the headline. This makes it incredibly important to get it right, as a poorly chosen headline could lead to your resume being rejected outright. This section should contain your name and sum up your skills and expertise in very few words.
You want to ensure that your job title tailored to the job you’re currently applying for to avoid confusing your potential employer.
For example, a company might refer to a frontend engineer role as a user interface (UI) developer, while another company refers to the same skill as “a frontend web developer.” This isn’t the place to unleash your creative side. Describe your skill the same way it’s described in the job description, provided the duties/responsibilities are the same.
What is a resume without a reliable way for employers to get back to you or even get to know you further? Your phone number, email, LinkedIn profile, portfolio, and even your GitHub profile (if you’re a developer) are all reliable ways employers can reach out to you if they decide to invite you for an interview. You could insert this information just below your headline or at the top left or right corner of your resume.
This summary section is where you communicate your values and expertise to your potential employer. You can write a few sentences about who you are, your most valuable skills, and major achievements. A summary with more than 60 words might not get the desired attention it ought to have gotten because no recruiter has the time to go through a 300-word resume summary. So, keep it short and simple.
An example of a social media manager resume summary could look like this;
- Social media manager with 2+ years’ experience in building strong social media presence for brands, have a detailed understanding of google analytics and web marketing that help drives traffics and boosts audience engagement.
You can place the summary section just after the headline or beside the contact information. Either way, you want to place it somewhere visible, as it’s one of the first few things your employer would want to see.
This section is all about showcasing your skills – both hard and soft. It’s important to get this right because it could determine whether a company sees you as the best fit for the job or not. You don’t want to include skills that are irrelevant to the current job market, even if they’re impressive. For example, if you’re not applying for a cook’s position, there’s no need to highlight your culinary skills. Instead, take a close look at the job requirements, match them with your current skill set, and include the skills you possess that the company is looking for.
I believe this section is probably the most important part of your resume, so you want to ensure it’s placed right at the forefront, where potential employers can’t miss it. This is the part where you highlight your skills, your previous employers, and your work experiences, be it internships, full-time, contract, or volunteer work.
Now, if you’ve had a lot of work experience, it might be tempting to list everything you’ve ever done. But that can get pretty boring for whoever is reading your resume. Instead, you want to focus on the experiences that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for and leave out the others. This will help to keep your resume interesting and make sure that you’re highlighting the experiences that matter most to potential employers.
Another popular tactic is to list your work experiences in reverse-chronological order. That is, you start with your current or last job and then go back in time until you reach your first job. This allows you to showcase your career progression and growth over time. Plus, by listing your most recent achievements first, you’ll make sure that the hiring manager sees your best abilities right off the bat. It’s like putting your best foot forward!
If you’re a recent graduate with no experience, you can include other relevant experiences like volunteer work, student organizations (If you belong to any), or even traditional experiences.
Some resume writers might argue that including your education in your resume is irrelevant. However, I’m quite sure a typical Nigerian will beg to differ, especially not after spending years in school, plus strikes and all. From my perspective, I think including this section is important, especially if the role you’re applying for is exactly what you studied in school or similar. If you’re a recent graduate or do not have enough experience, it’s advisable to include this section just after your summary. But, if your education is irrelevant to the role you’re applying to, place this section at the bottom, after your responsibilities/tasks section.
Putting your CGPA on your resume is a good choice if your CGPA is good enough. If not, it’s unnecessary, as it only shows your weakness. If your employer requires it, then you might have no other choice.
Some employers consider this education section a strong requirement, while others consider it a checklist. Either way, you want to fulfill all righteousness to avoid being ruled out. If you’ve also earned certifications that are applicable to the role, you might want to include that too.
Now that you have a clear understanding of how to structure your resume and which sections are important to include, let’s delve into some helpful tips to make sure you create an effective resume;
Tips To Ensure Your Resume is On Point
Define your goals
The first step to building a good resume is understanding what you want that resume to help you achieve or what your end goal is. What type of job do I want? What type of company do I see myself working in? What skill am I looking to get hired for? These are all questions that will help you craft a good resume that fits your current needs. For instance, you might have graduated with a B.Sc. in public administration, but you’re looking to go into marketing or become a salesperson. Now, making your resume all about public administration will be all shades of wrong. By defining your goals, you can tailor your resume to fit exactly what you want.
Highlight Your Soft Skills
Gone are the days when just honing your craft was enough to get you your dream job. Now, there are certain skills you need to possess in other to stand out from the crowd. How strong is your communication and leadership skill? How good are you at problem-solving and task delegation? Do you have empathy or seem to manage stress pretty well? All of these and more are skills employers constantly look out for because it gives them a better perception of whom they’re looking to hire.
Gather your Non-traditional Experiences
If you’ve never had real work experience and you’re trying to build an entry-level resume, this is your time to shine.
Find a way to translate your university experiences or extracurricular activities into a real experience.
If you’ve ever been in situations where you had to showcase these skills, feel free to highlight them and describe how this skill was relevant to that situation or event.
Something as little as “assisting a family member in planning an event” could be translated into;
Freelance Event Coordinator
- Arranged onsite vendors and ensured guests’ satisfaction.
- Booked location and secured food and drinks for all invited guests and siblings.
Student Group leader
- Led and delegated tasks to a group of 10 students to present the topic – Leadership Development and corporate culture in human resources management.
These experiences emphasize good qualities like leadership, work ethic, discipline, and so on. Your employer might just see these qualities and think, “Hey, this person can bring these skills to the table at work too!” So, it’s always a good idea to showcase these experiences and highlight the positive qualities you’ve gained from them.
Highlight Your Professional Experiences
There is no resume without professional experience(if you have any). If you have ever worked as a professional in any company or organization, you want to include that in your resume. This could be an intern position or volunteer work, just about any position that has helped you build industry connections and gain real-life experience in a field.
Highlighting your professional experience can be in this format;
- Job Title
- Company Name
- Company Location
- Company Description
If you don’t have any professional experience within a company, you can replace this section with the non-traditional experience we discussed in the third point. Make sure to include your university education and a number of skills relevant to that.
Turn Your Responsibilities/Tasks Section into Achievements
When you apply to a certain role, best believe tens or hundreds of people have applied for the same position. One of the few things that can make a recruiter take an extra look at your resume is if your responsibilities/tasks section is impressive enough. This section is where you obviously talk about your past role or duties, but you also want to go further than that. Every point should talk about your responsibility and how performing this responsibility helped the company achieve something.
For example, this is a product manager with a generic responsibilities/tasks section;
Product Manager, XYZ Company (2018 – 2020)
- Managed the development and launch of a new product.
- Developed and managed the company’s product roadmap.
- Managed product budgets and timelines.
These points are good enough, but hundreds of product managers do this daily, so why should they take a second look at you?
Let’s rewrite the product manager’s responsibilities/tasks section above;
Product Manager, XYZ Company (2018 – 2020)
- Successfully managed the end-to-end development of two major products, resulting in a 10% increase in the company’s revenue upon their successful launch.
- Developed and managed the product roadmap, ensuring alignment with company goals and objectives.
- Managed product budgets and timelines, ensuring projects were delivered on time and within budget.
Can you spot the differences between the two?
Most companies hire new talents not just because they want to fill that position but because they need someone that can help them achieve their goals or at least move them closer to them. When you include your past achievements in your responsibilities/tasks section, you’re indirectly telling your employers that “Using my skills, I have helped my past companies reach their goals, and I can help you to the same.” That’s sort of an assurance, and who doesn’t want that? Definitely not your potential employers.
Your responsibilities/tasks section could be the difference between getting your foot in the door and missing out on a potential opportunity. So, you want to get it right.
Avoid Writing a Long Resume Summary
Imagine having to read through this. Yeah. Exactly! That’s the face your potential employer will make when they have to read through a summary like this.
According to Indeed, recruiters only spend about 6 to 7 seconds looking at a resume before moving on to the next candidate. They have tons of resumes like yours to review, so you don’t want to bore them with too many stories. Simply state who you are, what you do, and what value you can add to their business. Keep it short and simple.
Is Crafting a Traditional Resume Still Relevant?
When it comes to creating a resume, you’ve got options. You can go all out to create a portfolio website, or you can make use of existing platforms like LinkedIn as a mini resume.
The beauty of a traditional resume is that you can always tailor your resume to each job application. Combining the power of an online resume with a tailored offline resume can make all the difference in getting your resume to the top of the pile.
Now let’s get to work!