Resume Writing Tips and Guide: How to Write a Good Resume and What Should Be the Chronological Order Like?

Before you start writing your resume, think through the following few pointers. Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. They get an avalanche of resumes and have to work through tens or maybe hundreds of resumes; after half a dozen resumes, even the strongest wills start cracking. It’s not an easy job, so make it as easy and fun as possible for the recruiter to read your resume.

The past is the best predictor of the future. The interviewer will read your resume and form an opinion of you. And you will want to make it as easy as possible for the interviewer to form the opinion you want them to form based on your past experience. If an interviewer can understand why you made specific choices you did in the past, they can form an idea of how you will make choices in the future.

resume-writing-tipsGive the outcomes of past projects and choices you made and give a short write-up of why you made the choices you did. Ensure that there are no gaps in the chronological order of your career as you write it on your resume; the interviewer would want the complete picture to form an informed opinion. If there is a gap, the interviewer will have no choice but to speculate on why you would want to leave a gap; don’t leave space for speculation.

Take a project you were involved in, rather than describe your functions in the project, describe the outcomes you were responsible for or partly responsible for. Anything you can do to make it easier for the interviewer to read your resume helps a bundle. If there is a specific time in your career you think is not really applicable to the position applied for, state the period and in short what you did, just not detail and state you feel it’s not applicable or find something positive you have learned from the that experience.

Use the skills summary maps. Maybe even add a break or two, for example a quote you are really fond of, a little something of interest, a short intriguing story that was really interesting to you. Use this method with utmost care and toward building your personal profile; don’t add anything without a very good reason.

When writing a resume one wants a whole library of words describing the unique individual that you are. We recommend you do a few self discovery exercises to get information on how you do your best work and how to best describe yourself to the interviewer. Remember the interviewer wants to get to know you and how you made choices in the past.

The chronological order of a resume

Resume writing is a great opportunity to talk about you. Go with your personal gut feeling on how to make your resume flow. Remember to keep the focus on you and the choices you made in your career, why you made those choices and what you learned from them.

  • Personal details
  • Resume cover letter
  • Detail on your high school years
  • Detail on your tertiary education
  • Summary-map of your skills
  • Summary-map of your job experience
  • More specific job information starting with your most recent job, and extending to Second last job, Third last job, etc.
  • Remuneration
  • Resume reference page

Now let’s have a look at these in details.

Personal data

Include the normal personal details in your resume. Include everything the recruiter might need to get in contact with you, for example a mobile number as well as a number for a land line. In the Perfect Resume Template we include a list of all the personal data required by recruiters.

Include all personal information that is necessary; be careful to include too much detail. The resume is about you and your choices, the rest of the resume should build on you and your choices. Include what is required and leave the rest of the information, don’t clutter your resume with unnecessary technicalities.

The personal data required on a resume include:

  • Surname
  • Christian name
  • ID Number / Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Postal address
  • Drivers licence
  • Criminal record
  • Home language
  • Other languages

Resume cover letter

Most recruiters expect a resume cover letter at this position in the chronological order of your resume, not necessarily before the resume itself. A cover letter’s job is to briefly introduce your resume and then answer the following questions:

  • I apply for this job opening because…
  • I believe I can do this job because…
  • I want this job because…

You can have two approaches in writing your resume cover letter. The first cover letter approach is one focused on the company and the specific job opening. Shape your cover letter to fit the requirements of the job opening. The second and generally more preferred option is to talk about yourself and why you know you would be able to do the job.

A cover letter is focused on you and your achievements, your major choices during your life and how they fit with the career opportunity presenting itself. The second cover letter option is also perceived as more natural and recruiters get to know you as an individual.

Detail on your educational qualifications

In your resume you should include the normal high school detail. For example:

  • Where did you finish high school?
  • Which subjects did you have in your last year?
  • What were your symbols? Include your symbols here as well, even though it is on your school certificate. It makes reading your resume easier for the recruiter.
  • Which sport did you do in school?
  • Which extracurricular activities did you participate in?

You have now given a summary of your last year of school. Now let’s drill into this information a bit, for the benefit of the recruiter reading your resume. Remember recruiters want to get to know you. The central theme of your resume should be the choices you made in your life. This is the biggest indication of who you are and how you will or won’t fit with the career opportunity presented.

For this kind of drilling down information gathering, ask yourself questions like:

  • Why did I select the subjects I did in school?
  • Which subjects did you enjoy and which subjects did you not enjoy?
  • Why did you enjoy the subjects you did?
  • Why did you not enjoy the other subjects?
  • Why did I choose to take part in sport?
  • Which sport did I enjoy and which not?
  • Why did I enjoy certain sports and other not?
  • Was I captaining my team?
  • Which team sport did you participate in?
  • How did you reach the position in the team, for example if you were captain how did you make captain?
  • Was your sport active in the community or business external to the closed environment of only say the school? For example: putting together a soccer team where there was none. Area is predominantly rugby orientated and he forged a soccer team out of these circumstances. He was able to persuade the deputy principal to create a soccer team. This individual did not add this to his resume.
  • If you were a leader of some kind, how did it come about and did you enjoy it or not and why?

Ask the same questions about your extracurricular activities. If you wish to expand a bit on these questions feel free to do so.

Detail on your tertiary education

In your resume you should also include the normal tertiary education detail. For example:

  • Which university did you go to?
  • Which subjects did you have?
  • What were your symbols?
  • Include your symbols here as well, even though it is on your degree. It makes reading your resume easier for the recruiter.
  • Which sport did you take part in?
  • What else did you do at university?

To make it easy for you to drill down the information, ask yourself questions like:

  • Why did I choose the direction I did?
  • Which subjects did you enjoy and which subjects did you not enjoy?
  • Why did you enjoy the subjects you did?
  • Why did you not enjoy the other subjects?
  • Why did I choose to take part in sport?
  • Why did I enjoy certain sports and others not?
  • Was I captaining my team?
  • If you were a leader of some kind, how did it come about and did you enjoy it or not and why?

Ask the same questions concerning your other activities at university.

Summary map of your skills

Add the summary map of your skills to your resume for the benefit of the recruiter and yourself. This map contains a quick summary of the skills you have acquired over the years, making it easy for the recruiter to form an overall idea of what your skills are and what you have been focusing on in your previous endeavors.

Keep in mind the purpose of the skills table is to present the recruiter with a quick summary of where you have spent your time in growing your career competencies.

Summary map of your job experience

If you have had an extensive career history it is worth it to give a summary map of what you have done; starting with your most recent position. This map contains a quick summary of the different jobs you have had, for how long and what you did and learned. Make it easy for the recruiter to form an overall idea of what your career path were.

More specific job experience

Following the brief resume summaries is more detailed information on each specific job. Begin with your most recent job and work back from there. Take time and really think through the following, then answer question listed below as well:

  • How much money did you earn for the company?
  • How much money did you save for the company?
  • How much time did you save?

Big note, recruiters are allergic to clichés. State the simple truth; don’t go on long tiring charades of empty claims.

Here is important information recruiters expect to complete specific job experience:

  • Give a quick summary of the specific position you held.
  • Where were you employed, with which company, country etc.?
  • For what period of time and which calendar year or years were you employed there?
  • What was expected of you, what was your job description?
  • Include major projects you were part of during your employment with this company. This is very important! Do not just state what was expected, state what you achieved and be specific. For example if you were supposed to drink two cups of coffee for the project and you completed three, say it. Give a summary of why you achieved this. Give all the information and at the same time only the information that is truly necessary.
  • At the end of this specific position what were your major achievements?
  • Give your reasons for wanting to leave your current position. Do not use words like “to be discussed”, it reflects badly on your relationship with your current employer; if you cannot discuss these facts what does it say about you? Be careful not to leave space for interpretation by the recruiter. State the facts.
  • What was your remuneration on leaving? Be open about this; do not use “available on request”. Recruiters want this information to be there. Give it to them straight.

Ask the same questions for your second job, third job and etcetera.

Remuneration

If you have a specific expectation, state it as such. Make it clear that you are open for discussion on the subject if what you expect is not a cast in stone requirement.

Resume reference page

On your resume reference page give a list of your major achievements rather than a complete list of all the one day courses you have ever done. A comprehensive, tedious list detracts rather than adds to your resume. It might seem as if you consider going on the course more important than applying the knowledge.

Include achievements that fit the flow of your resume, give details that add to the choices you have made in your career till date. Refer to other less important courses where applicable in the body of your resume, say something like “I went on this course to learn more about a specific challenge I faced, I used this knowledge to achieve this.”

Supply a reference for every job. If you say that a reference is available on request, it could mean you were not able to manage the relationship with that specific employer. Supply adequate contact details for every person on the list. If for whatever reason you do not feel comfortable including an individual’s details; rather don’t include that reference in your resume reference page.

Browse through our sample resume templates for formats suitable for a more specific job type.