Elements of an Effective Resume

An effective resume is no rocket science. It is a mini-life story, in no more than two pages, to give a flavour of the person you are, in a concise manner, and without too many boring details. For that reason, it would have up to eight brief sections, like modules, outlining the major aspects of your working life. It can be adapted to suit any age or experience by just removing the sections that are inappropriate or irrelevant. The key sections are listed below in order of priority.

1. Education and Qualifications

After your basic details (name, address, etc.) this should be the first section. Immediately the employer can see whether you are qualified for the job, which college you attended, your various activities and how well you did in your exams.

2. Experience

Your current, or most recent, jobs should be listed, especially the ones that are most relevant to the post you are applying for. Make sure you show progress, promotion, movement of any kind within your jobs, focusing on the nature of your duties, your responsibilities and achievements within them.

3. Skills and Training

List all the main skills you have demonstrated in your career so far, like being an organiser, communicator, team leader, data processor, or whatever they are. Also mention any recent training you’ve had that particularly suits the new post. This section perhaps needs to be tailored to suit each job application. If you can show that you are keeping up with the trends through regular training, even better. In our technological world, skills become rapidly out-of-date so it is very important to look as though you are on the ball when it comes to your field. Dropping in a few of the current buzzwords won’t do any harm so long as it isn’t overdone.

4. Reasons for Applying (this section could also be removed altogether and put in a covering letter)


Your main reasons, up to three, why you are interested in the job.

    • How it suits you: State how it aligns with your skills, it would offer you greater challenge, a step up the ladder or would enhance your current knowledge. Anything at all that goes with your particular experience and aspirations.
    • What you can contribute: Most important, you should add what you hope you can do for the company. Organisations are not just there to provide a salary. They are there to establish a presence, build a reputation and make a profit. Some, like Google, are also there to be innovative. If you can enhance the new employer in any of those aspects, to help build them rather than just take from them, you are more likely to be hired. Find out what their main goals are beforehand and mention at least one you would be able to help with.
    • What you hope to get in return: You should also mention the rewards you hope for in return (like pay, perks, conditions, working with a market leader, greater personal development and the opportunity to put your expertise into practice). Stress your loyalty, reliability and determination which you would expect to be recognised.

5. Personality

Give a flavour of the kind of person you are, your interests, likes and strengths, using some choice words to describe you like dynamic, dependable, resilient, forward thinker, etc. Stress those positive bits and avoid the negatives. You may add just one thing that you truly don’t like doing etc., to show that you are human after all! It doesn’t matter if it goes against you. If you really dislike doing it, and are rejected for it, you would have been in the wrong company anyway.

6. Honours and Awards

This should include every special honour or distinction you have received since college days, no matter what it is. It should also have any particular achievements you got in your jobs so far. These will show your initiative, potential and attainments so far in your career. If you have a lot, list them and be prepared to explain them at the interview.
By giving a flavour of yourself in the resume, yet concentrating on what is relevant to the new job, you would have given enough information for the additional questions they would be asking you at the interview. It would also be presented clearly, concisely and in an interesting manner. A resume is not about including as much as possible for them to read. It is mainly about raising the employers’ interest enough to want to find out more for themselves in their own way.