Resume guidelines
FAQS for preparing your resume

These resume guidelines will give answers to the most common questions that people ask about resume preparation.

Before we get started on specific resume advice here's a few things you should know if you haven't had to prepare a resume for a while:

  • There is no single correct way to prepare a resume,
  • Nor is there a best type or style of resume. All the experts have their theories. Many of them disagree on even basic resume writing guidelines to follow.

This means that there is a lot of conflicting advice about the best approach.

So what is the best approach? The answer is simple:

  • Choose one of the resume styles that suits your present situation and career objectives.
  • Recognise that you might need to prepare different versions of your resume to suit different purposes.
  • It is likely that you will need to be continually fine tuning your resume to achieve desired results.

Resume writing tips

What actually is the purpose of a resume?

The result most people are seeking from their resume is to get a job interview. test of the effectiveness of your resume could be your interview hit rate.

What percentage of interview invites are you currently getting from your resume?

Resume guidelines - Frequently asked questions

Click on the links below to jump to the answers for questions you see below

How many pages should my resume be?

Opinions differ.

Requirements also tend to vary according to the country where you presently might be working, or in the country where you want to work.

For example - in the U.S.A., resume guidelines exist on the web to suggest that a single page resume is best. But.....dig deeper into this question and you'll find a two or three page document is also recommended.

Search the web for resume advice in specific countries and again you'll see opinions differ.

The real answer to this question depends. Depends on what you ask?

It depends on your purpose - which is basically to promote/sell yourself sufficiently well to get that invite to be interviewed for the position. But, it also depends on what the employer or job advertiser wants as well.

Some job ads will give you a guideline e.g. "please send a single page resume"...... Or the ad might simply say "please send your resume..."

Unless you otherwise have specific advice from the employer or advertiser, how do you decide on how many pages in your resume?

My suggestion - if it takes two or more pages to promote what you have to offer, then create that number of pages.

Resume Writing Tips

From all the research I've done into resume guidelines, and in talking with colleagues and recruiters about this question, the recommended length for people in established careers is around three pages or less.

If you can fit a compelling professional profile and career history into a page and half - well that's fine too.

Think about this though from the employer or recruiter's perspective - if they've got a lot of applications to read, a brief and compelling resume is welcomed.

I've worked with clients who have resumes running to a dozen pages or so. This is way too much information - information that is either irrelevant, or outdated.

Ultimately, the best length resume is the one that gets the desired result - an interview.

If you're not getting interview invites with a 1.5 - 2 page resume layout - could it be that there is insufficient information about you and your capabilities?

What personal details do you include?

Let's look at these resume guidelines one by one:

Details of your age

Usually you will not include this. It is especially important not to include details of your age information if you are in any way unsure the employer will disregard your application because of your age.

There are exceptions to this - if you think that the employer or recruiter is looking for a candidate in your particular age group, then you might consider including details of your age.

Remember however - in most Western countries there is equal opportunity, and anti-discrimination legislation or codes of practice which make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of age.

Details of your marital or relationship status

Resume guidelines are also quite clear here - in Western countries anti-discrimination legislation means you are not required to divulge information about whether you are married, in a relationship, have children, or are single.

Details of your nationality

Generally there is little need to refer specifically to this in your resume.

Sometimes people with "foreign" names might decide to include this information.

They do this as a way of making sure that the employer knows that they are either a citizen or resident of the country, and are therefore eligible to work in the country.

Details of your hobbies and interests

Opinions differ about this. My personal view is that what an employee does in their own time is really their own business.

However, many employers and recruiters like to see this information because it presents a broader view of the job candidate. Some like to use this information as a discussion point in the interview - usually as way of getting conversation started at the beginning of the interview.

Resume Writing Tips

Include your hobbies and interests it if you think this enhances your application in any way.

For example if you are involved in community, charity or church work in your spare time, and if this involvement might relate in some way to the position for which you are applying, perhaps consider including this.

Caution is also required about what you include because your interests might present a contrasting side to your image.

For instance most jobs today require some element of team working. If you list a series of hobbies or interests which are solo pursuits - what might this say about you in terms of being a team player?

The opposite also applies in relation to team work. Are you involved in lots of team sports, and the employer is looking for a team player - probably let them know about your interest.

Bottom line - if it enhances your application put it in, if not leave it out!

In terms of resume layouts, my suggestion is to include hobbies and interests information toward the end of the resume, it's back page stuff.

What about including a photograph?

This is becoming fashionable in some circles. In terms of these general resume guidelines my advice however is..... don't include your photo unless you are specifically asked to do so.

If appearance is a key factor in the position, and then only if it is customary in the industry, then you would include a photo in your resume.

Why no photo? In my opinion it can be used by an employer to discriminate against you. Better that they first get to see you in the interview.

Should I declare a disability?

The best resume guidelines about disclosure of a disability are..... there is no need to disclose if the nature of your disability doesn't affect your ability to carry out the requirements of the role.

Bottom line - can you actually do the job and deliver the required job outcomes?

If your disability doesn't affect your job performance then the focus on your resume is about what you can do.

The same rules apply as for everyone else - your resume is about selling your abilities, not your disability.

What resume headings do I use?

There are a range of commonly used resume headings.

Resume headings are covered in detail in here

The important thing is..... you decide which are the most appropriate headings to use. There aren't "correct headings" that you must use, as such.

Resume guidelines - other Do's and Don'ts

Here's a brief summary of answers to other questions you might have about resume guidelines, resume layouts, or resume formats:

  • If you are sending your resume through the postal service - keep it plain and simple - white A4 paper will do just fine. Don't worry about any fancy binding or special folder either.
  • Pay close attention to resume layouts with good use of headings, white space and attractive, but plain, fonts - the visual appeal of the document is important in creating a good first impression.
  • Which fonts? Times New Roman is a bit too plain I think - I tend to use Arial, Century Gothic, Verdana, Bookman Old Style. Don't mix up fonts in your document - use the same one throughout.
  • Avoid too many bullet points - use more than 7 bullet points in a list and it's likely that the points lower in the list will be overlooked
  • Be consistent with your use of tense when writing - use present tense to describe what you're doing currently, past tense for the past.
  • Pay extremely close attention to good use of grammar, and make sure there are absolutely no spelling mistakes.

Resume guidelines
Other resume writing tips

Now that you've reviewed these basic resume guidelines it's time to think about the best resume layout and resume formats.,/p>

Go to the links below for more tips and guidelines to help you write a fantastic resume.

New! Comments

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