When you’re looking for a new role, you have two main career brand tools, your LinkedIn profile and your resume. At this time, only roles that are posted on LinkedIn need a LinkedIn profile when applying, but most other roles require a resume as the main part of the application. There are many things you can do to ensure that your resume is an effective tool. The template and style need to be optimized for Applicant Tracking software, you want to include relevant key words and you need to have solid accomplishment statements. The main sections of the resume that you should include are: profile, career history, education and technical skills. Many roles have a large number of applicants. Human resources and hiring managers are often looking at hundreds of resumes per job. There is information you can include on the resume that can compel the reader.
Here are the additional sections you should consider adding to your resume to make sure it stands out:
Formal education is very important. Ideally you have a post-secondary diploma or degree. While it is true that work experience is a better indicator of ability to do a job, many roles require a diploma or degree. It is important to note that Applicant Tracking software may even be looking for a Bachelor degree or a College diploma as a requirement rather than a preference. This is not necessarily because that education is essential to do the role, but it is likely a filter used to reduce the number of candidates. To complement formal education, or to show a focus on learning in the absence of having a degree or a diploma, a Courses section can be useful. Be sure to include the name of the course and the course provider. If it was recent, then include the year of course completion. Ideally, the courses are relevant to what you want to do next and show the potential employer that you are focused on continuous learning that enhances your expertise.
Many organizations contribute to social causes and emphasize being charitable. Large organizations in particular may have one major cause that they are known for supporting. Therefore, it can be beneficial to include a Volunteering section that shows that you have similar values. It is best to include volunteering that is recent, within the past few years. Include the name of the charity or organization, the dates and/or duration and indicate what your role was. If the volunteering was for a community group rather than a charity, such as a sports team or a school, you should include it. It is great to show the reader qualities related to collaboration, inclusiveness, dedication and leadership.
A lot of industries and roles are associated with professional organizations. If you have a membership or affiliation with an organization or association related to what you do, then you want to include this on your resume. This can show the reader that you are involved in your profession or industry beyond the scope of your employment.
You definitely need to include certifications you have which are requirements for the role. There may be certifications that are more of a ‘nice to have’ – include these as well because they may help to bolster your application. Include the related dates and the name of the designating body. You may want to include the certification or designation alongside your name in your contact information, if that is commonly done in your industry.
My rule is ‘only include interests if they are actually interesting’. That is, do not include things like ‘food’ and ‘movies’, most people like those things. Only mention interests that may be unique or that tell the reader something about you, things like exotic travel, pastry making, carpentry or rock climbing. Include interests that may be relevant to the role. For example, if you’re applying for a sales role that involves a lot of networking, it may be helpful to include golfing or tennis. If you’re applying to a creative role, it can be helpful to include any creative interests outside of the context of work such as visual art or acting. Employers may value someone who takes care of their health, so if you ran a marathon or play a team sport, include that. Include interests that may be good ‘conversation starters’ particularly if they are relevant to that industry, such as representing a quality that may be sought after by the employer.
Add an Awards section if you have won any awards relevant to what you do. Include ones that are recent, within the past 5 years, and ideally are representative of a quality or experience that may be desirable to future employers. External awards, such as from a professional association rather than from a current or past employer, typically carry more weight than internal awards. That said, if you won an award internally that was noteworthy, then include it.
Publications, Patents and Presentations
Most people should try to keep their resume to a reader-friendly two pages. However, if you have been published, invented something that has a patent, or given presentations at seminars or conferences, then you can include that information on a third page. If you have published articles or books and they are relevant to the roles you are applying to, then include that section. Any patents in your name related to what you do can be included on your resume. If you spoke at a seminar or conference related to your profession or industry, add that section on the third page. You can include the date, the event, the topic and the size of the audience.
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Your resume is your primary career brand tool. It is going to be required for most roles you apply to. Include all of the traditional sections and any of the aforementioned additional ones – they might help you get noticed by your next great employer.