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Golden rules to resume writing

If the thought of summing up your life's work in only a few pages is daunting, you are not alone.

Career Development Association of Australia Queensland president Jenni Proctor says more people are visiting career counsellors for help with their resumes.

“People are asking for help to get ahead of the competition,” Proctor says.

“They are first of all seeking reassurance they are looking in the right place if they are making a career change, and then seeking help writing effective resumes, and then seeking help with confident presentation at interviews.

But that doesn't mean it is an impossible task to master.

Amanda Horswill spoke to career experts Gillian Kelly of Career Edge and Outplacement Australia, Rick Bowman of Teachers' Professional Resumes and Cheryl Peel of Advantage Career Solutions to get their top tips on writing a job-getting resume.

CareerOne has a compiled a three-step guide to writing a resume based on these tips.

Top tips for resume writing

Step One: Compile a job-history

  • Write down every job you have had for the past decade, when, and what tasks you did, and some successes you had in those roles.
  • Find facts and figures to back up those claims of success, such as “achieving sales targets-met sales budget in 2006-2007, exceeded sales budget by 170 per cent in 2007-2008”.
  • Isolate the skills required for each job, such as “Filing receipts-analytical thinking to classify receipts; know how to use computerised retrieval system”, or “Achieving sales budget-written and oral communication skills, teamwork, network building, computer data entry, logistics management, commercial finance skills”.

Step Two: Organise categories of strengths, taks, skills and responsibilities

  • Look for common skills, as these could form the basis of a “key strengths” summary.
  • Organise that job-list information in a timeline starting with your most recent position. Cut down the “what tasks you did'', into a one-paragraph description, with the headline” Responsibilities”.
  • Choose four or five main skill sets that you used in that job and present them in dot points under the headline “Key skills”.
  • Under that, choose three or four quantifiable successes and group them under the headline “Achievements”.
  • Put time into writing a “Key Strengths” section to go at the top of your resume, above the job listings. Make sure that the skills you most want to display are highlighted.
  • Each time you apply for a job, it is wise to look at what the job ad is asking for and then rework your Key Strengths information to suit. Include four or five key areas.

Step Three: Format and check for consistency

  • At the very top of your resume, write your contact details and at the end, add your three referees, after consulting with them to make sure it's OK to give out their personal details.
  • Present the resume in a clear font, such as 11 point Helvetica, and ensure that it's easy on the eye and therefore easy to read.
  • Don't forget to spell check it, and proof read for any grammatical errors. And voila-your resume is done.
  • Keep a hard copy handy and store several electronic copies, and, if you can, turn it into a portable document format (PDF) in a program such as Adobe Acrobat.

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