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7 steps to build a great résumé

7 steps to build a great résumé

If, like many others, you've resolved to get a new job this year, you'll either need a better agent or an outstanding résumé. And since most of us aren't Hollywood stars, here are 7 steps to build your résumé.

February marks the start of the 2014 job-hunting season. Those who have decided on a career change quit their jobs in January and are working off the requisite four weeks notice so there are positions vacant galore. Make sure you're ready for these opportunities by preparing your résumé. This is a basic guide to what's required.

Step 1: Your experience

Write down everything you've ever done that could be considered job-related; don't forget to include work experience and volunteer positions. For each role, note down your responsibilities and achievements. Add the years when you were in each role and arrange these in chronological order, most recent first.

Step 2: Your skills

Write down any skill you're competent at that could be considered job-related; include software you can use as well as any notable skills, such as language competency. If you have received any awards or accreditations for these skills, include these to support your claim, for example: "2013: Achieved level N3 in the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test."

Step 3: Your education

State the qualification you achieved and the educational institution that awarded it. Add the years you undertook this qualification and arrange these in chronological order, most recent first. Consider including the subjects you studied, noting any in which you excelled. Highlight any awards or commendations you received in this time.

Step 4: Who are you?

Listing extra-curricular activities, including hobby groups, can give potential employers a better idea of who you are, as well as underscore any additional capabilities you have. If you have a role, for example as an event organiser for your gardening group or as the secretary of your sporting club, mention this and include a short description of your responsibilities.

Include access to written references or referees who will support everything in your résumé, whether in a professional or personal capacity.

Step 5: State your objective

What do you want from a role? Responsibility? A good team environment? Certain kinds of challenges? State this objective in your résumé. Do not skip this step: it will give you a picture of what you want to achieve in your career and help you decide what skills, knowledge and experience you've had are most pertinent to the job you want.

Step 6: Refine, refine, refine

Your résumé should be several pages now and you need to get it down to two without reducing it to 8pt font. Because you want to create a certain impression of your strengths and experience, the key is to refine your résumé according to relevance.

After identifying the job you're after, open a new document and copy and paste the following:

Your objectiveYour last/current role and 2-3 other relevant rolesOnly the skills relevant to the job you wantOnly the education relevant to the job you want (if you are a school-leaver, high school information is okay; for everyone else, stick to post-school qualifications)As many of your favourite extra-curricular activities/hobbies that fit into three linesAccess details for written references or contact details of referees

Step 7: Edit, then edit again

If your résumé is still too long, make sure the descriptive information, such as the particulars for previous job roles, is as concise as possible. Don't be afraid to use bullet points.

Read your résumé out loud to make sure everything makes sense and check for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Run the document through spellcheck, and then read it again. If possible, have a trusted friend or colleague (someone who has keen eyes and editing skills preferred!) to read through it too.

Are you ready?

There are a number of templates you can use to format your résumé, so have a search online for one that you like. There may be templates favoured by your industry; for example, résumés for academic positions may be several pages long and very detailed instead of the 1-2 pages for most other sectors.

In Australia it is not necessary, and not recommended, to include your date of birth, marital/family status, headshot or residential address. Some companies even have a policy of not accepting résumés with these details to reduce the possibility of discrimination.

Lastly, make it as easy as possible for a potential employer to read your résumé, which means forget the fancy fonts and use clean 12pt type. Place your contact details (phone number, email address) under your name and hope for the best. Good luck!

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