When I lecture to audiences on job market skills (specifically on resume development and cover letter creation), I always outline specific key principles (along with the key factors as outlined in my previous blog) to think about and apply in the initial formulation stages and throughout the resume development process. These key principles are essential tools in laying the foundations in creating a winning marketing document. Resume writing is not a difficult process; however, it is an ‘art form’ so to speak. This ‘art form’ comes in the process of learning how to apply concise, high impact writing techniques in a consistent manner throughout the document.
You need to apply the ‘KISS-S Principle’: keep it simple, keep it succinct, and keep it smart!
Firstly, keeping it simple means using language that is easy to understand. You must write your resume and cover letter for the broader job market so that anyone reading your documents (regardless of profession, trade or industry) can understand them. Do not use any jargon or technical terms unless you are applying for a position in a trade or profession that uses them and where it may be beneficial to incorporate such terminology. Importantly, your resume and cover letter must be absolutely free of any spelling, punctuation, grammatical and typographical errors.
Secondly, keeping it succinct means the content must be distinct and concise; the key is brevity and the aim is to save the reader time. You must keep sentences short and to the point, write only pertinent information and do not waffle. If you find in the drafting process that a single sentence extends to 3-4 lines, take it back to the drawing board, rewrite and break the sentence down into 2 or 3 shorter sentences. Shorter, sharper sentences makes for better retention on the part of the reader; less chance of the reader losing concentration; and short sentences pack a punch.
Thirdly, keeping it smart is all about the visual presentation. Your resume must look interesting and visually appealing at the very first glance. When designing the first page of your resume think in ‘letterhead style’. Do away with the cover page, this is a worthless piece of paper and tells the reader nothing. You want to present the vital information on the first page in a visually appealing format. That first page should ‘jump’. Create your resume in a certain style and maintain the layout throughout the subsequent pages. Aim for consistency, not doing so can be distracting for the reader. For example, do not go changing font styles throughout the document, if you are using times new roman 12pt font on the first page then use the same font throughout; if you have left-justified your section titles/headings on the first page ensure you keep them justified in this manner on subsequent pages. Key titles or section headings can do a lot for the document both from a visual and from a content standpoint. Each title should make a commanding statement. Importantly, sectioning your resume will reflect structure and present a well organised image, not just of the document but of yourself. After all, this is the first impression the reader will see of you!
When developing your resume and cover letter, ensure you pay attention to these principles. Guaranteed, you will find the process easier as it goes along, and it will also make the updating process effortless.
Remember, it’s all about marketing you!