Resume Writing Skills

CV writing tips, key skills to include, cover letters

Imagine your resume to be that crucial first impression you make on recruiters. It’s a make-or-break introduction that could either make them go “aha!” or toss it in the heap of hopeless rejects.

Your CV’s sole purpose, at least initially, is to bag you a job interview.

While many groan inwardly at the prospect of writing a resume, we will show you how it can be an absorbing exercise and, more importantly, one that will increase your chances of making a powerful impression.

The questions we will address while discussing resume writing are:

  • How to write a CV?
  • How long should your resume be?
  • How many pages are too many?
  • And what are the key skills you should include in your CV?

Before we answer these questions, let us remind you what your resume is not. It is not a catalogue of your past experience or an abbreviated autobiography.

A well-crafted resume is concise, relevant, impactful and holds attention throughout. Most importantly, it includes skills that are aligned with the position being offered. It is a summary of your skills and should tell recruiters why you are best suited for the job.

If you master the art of resume-writing, your CV can also reveal a few other, more subtle qualities about you. If well-written, it suggests that you are organised, you can think clearly and have a flair for writing.

The latter is especially relevant in career tracks like advertising, marketing, public relations, corporate communications and law.

Key Skills To Include In Your Resume

There are two types of skills employers look for in any applicant – hard skills or job-related skills, and adaptive skills.

The first category includes technical skills that qualify you for the post. So, if you are a techie, you are expected to have programming skills and coding skills; while a financial analyst should have superior mathematical ability and an affinity to analyse quantitative data.

Adaptive skills, on the other hand, do not necessarily qualify you for the job but will decide how successful you are and how far you will go. This category of skills includes attributes such as interpersonal communication, being a team player, analytical ability, problem-solving skills, managerial qualities and leadership ability.

When listing your skills, do not literally list them on your resume with bullets. Briefly elaborate on each one with examples, if possible.

8 Creative Resume Writing Tips

Now that we’ve discussed the key skills in your resume, there are some tips and techniques you can use to make your CV a winner. Like we said, it’s all about grabbing eyeballs as they skim the page.

Also, be aware that most employers prefer the traditional (bland) CV format and some of the unconventional ideas listed below might actually backfire depending on who is reading it. Use your discretion.

1. Keywords

Your CV may be your calling card but no matter how well crafted it is, it is useless if it does not land on the desk of a recruiter or a company that is hiring. The secret to improving the likelihood of this happening is remembering three little words – Applicant Tracking System.

Yes, before you impress actual recruiters, you will have to impress their digital versions, automated systems that match keywords in resumes with job descriptions. Surprised? Don’t be. Nowadays, almost all recruiters use these algorithms to narrow their list of applicants.

2. Selling Yourself

Get this. According to some studies, only one in every 200 resumes converts into a job interview, and to beat those odds, craft a resume that is subtle advertising copy, where the product being sold is you! So, while listing relevant skills, avoid a list with bullet points.

Rather back up each statement with an example from your professional life. So, for instance, if you list ‘problem-solving’, or ‘analytical thinking’, or ‘team player’ as skills, demonstrate why you claim to possess these valuable attributes. Never use hard-sell; instead, write with honesty because you will be quizzed on these skills in the interview.

3. Less Is More

Today, reading is all about scanning and skimming. So the rule of thumb is to keep your resume concise. How many pages does that work out to? Barring mid- to senior-level managers and executives, one page is a good rule of thumb. Write short, clear sentences and save the details for the interview. This means, carefully weighing and choosing what you say because every single word must be impactful.

4. QR Code

This is definitely a gimmick but it could work – mainly for applicants looking for tech jobs. Use a QR Code or matrix barcode that links to your web presence – LinkedIn profile, blog, etc. This will impress recruiters and also show that you incorporate technology into your daily life.

5. Failure Is Not All Bad

It’s risky but can instantly catapult you to the front of the line if you pull it off with finesse. List past failures on your resume – and also state what you learnt from them and how you overcame them. It tells recruiters that you are a problem-solver with a positive outlook. It also suggests honesty and says that by featuring your failures on your resume, you are a risk-taker.

6. Video Resume

Choosing this interview technique will instantly make you stand out from the crowd. Recruiters love candidates who are creative and take bold risks. A video resume also allows you to showcase your personality, communication skills and confidence. How do you send it in? Scroll two points up to the QR Code tip!

7. Quantify Your Achievements

When used skillfully, numbers are much more effective than words, so don’t hesitate to use them to demonstrate your expertise. You can use statistics to indicate your sales targets or how many new accounts you bagged for your firm. A simple but valuable resume tip only because not many use it!

8. How ‘Social’ Are You?

Being social-media savvy is increasingly being considered a definite plus in your job skills armoury. But the keyword here is ‘relevant’.

Recruiters are not interested in your personal Facebook posts or Twitter timeline per se, but they will be if you follow and share posts, articles, news-bytes and alerts that relate to your career track.

It suggests that you are up to speed in your domain. It could also suggest that you are a thought leader, a highly valued skill, if you, say, write a blog with relevant content.

If you do qualify on any of these counts, include the URLs to your social media sites in your resume – or a QR Code that links to it!

Do You Need A Resume Cover?

Also called a ‘cover letter’ or ‘job application’, a resume cover is not always necessary. But when you do send in one, remember, it is your introduction to the recruiter and what you say will probably determine whether they scan your resume or not.

A cover letter always compliments your resume and provides additional information on your skills and experience. It may also explain your interest in the specific organisation and highlight your most relevant skills.

A cover letter is structured very differently from a resume and includes a subject line, greeting, main message and sign-off.

When deciding whether to have a cover letter accompany your CV, answer just one question: Is it spellbinding enough to make the employer read your resume?

Back to the list of key skills.