You have made the decision to take the next step in your career, and one daunting task looms ahead of you immediately: updating or rewriting your resume. Whatever stage of a career you’re in currently, updating or writing a resume is a challenge.
As you edit your resume, questions such as “What experience should I include and in how much detail?”, “What format should I use?” and “How can I make my resume stand out from others?” will come up.
And these are legitimate concerns – resumes are one or two written pages that aim to summarise all the experience, learnings and accomplishments of your career. The way that a resume is structured, the layout, the sessions and the way it presents your work history can make the difference between whether or not a hiring manager or recruiter will spend an extra few seconds reading through your qualifications.
If you are lost on where to begin, consider using a resume template as a starting point. The ideal resume will be easy to read, well-organised and highlight experiences in a way that is easy for the hiring manager to digest. Here are three free resume templates you can use for any stage of your career.
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1. Chronological resume template
This traditional resume layout is suitable for fresh graduates, those with shorter career history and those who have held multiple roles within one organisation. This resume style allows potential employers to see your work experience in a quick, easy-to-follow way, working backwards from your most recent experience. It should include your education, work experience, and other information like technical skills or awards. If you have a few chronological gaps, see this article on how to handle employment gaps.
2. Skills-based resume
This resume is suitable for those from mid-managerial level and above. Once you have accumulated a significant amount of experience, your resume could naturally stretch quite a bit. It can get tedious for hiring managers to read through full descriptions of every position you have held.
Instead of having the hiring manager go through your resume line by line to comprehend your work achievements, put that information upfront. Highlight your most relevant experience and skills sets in a separate section before the segment on work experience.
Focus on the most pertinent roles to the one you are applying to, and highlight your most tangible work performance and skills sets. That way, you are helping the employer, and in other words, helping yourself, get noticed if your achievements are relevant to the position.
3. Executive-level resume
This resume template is ideal for those applying for more senior roles like director-level jobs. It focuses on your achievements in greater detail. This resume format also leaves room for you to highlight positions you held in other organisations or on boards and professional groups.
Related: How to negotiate for a higher salary
Personalise your resume after downloading the resume template
These resume templates are meant as a starting point for you to create yours. So once you have downloaded a template, fill in the sections and get on to personalising it. Feel free to underline specific section headers or even make the words bold.
It should look organised and easy for hiring managers to navigate. While it can be tempting to go fancy with your resumes, using templates with different colours and exciting graphics, it is best to keep to a conservative one, even if you are in the creative line.
Use no more than two font types. Star and bar charts may look like they add texture to the resume in terms of how it looks; they don’t add value and may not be easy to understand. If you are uncertain about how it reads or looks, get a peer or industry mentor to review it. Also, use a grammar checker tool like Grammarly to help proofread your resume and eliminate any grammatical mistakes.
The rising importance of transferable skills: Hard and soft skills
If you are looking to move to another industry, be sure to include transferable skills in your resume. These are made up of hard and soft skills, and are the ones you have picked up along your employment experience. These are highly essential if you’re looking to switch to a different industry or a new type of role.
Hard skills are things that anyone can learn and pick up like computer software and technical skills, and language skills, while soft skills include leadership, delegation, time management, interpersonal skills, research and planning, and writing, communication and administrative skills. Soft skills are essential to highlight in your resume as they can differentiate between candidates with similar or equal technical competencies and experience in a competitive job market.
An effective way to work your transferable skills on your resume is to explain in the work description section how your actions solved a problem, and how that produced results.
For instance, if you want to bring attention to your communication skills, you can say that you “created effective press releases for a key campaign that resulted in press coverage in 12 media companies”, instead of saying that you “created press releases for events and campaigns”.
Another example: Instead of stating that you “managed a team”, another example would be, say you “trained and managed a team of five marketing professionals responsible for eight markets”. And always keep in mind to tailor your resume to the specific job description where relevant.
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