Writing a resume: useful tips and tricks

Writing a resume is a bit of a challenge for everyone and a particularly unpleasant task. With the right tips and tricks, however, it is not that difficult to convince the recruiter of your merits. If you pay attention to certain formalities and guidelines and take enough time to create your resume, they will see that in your application and wave you right into the next round.

In this article we want to help you step by step to create your resume according to all requirements. We will give you examples and also show you popular mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.

The most important things in a nutshell

  • The resume is your calling card and gives the recruiter an overview of your background and experience, which qualifies you for this position.
  • When writing your resume, you should pay special attention to certain formalities and a clear structure, and only include relevant information.
  • Gaps should be justified truthfully and, in the best case, should be filled with experience that you have gained during that time. Lying or concealing is not an option here.

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Definition: What is a resume?

A resume is practically your calling card and gives the potential employer information about your academic and professional career, your previous experience and qualifications. It is often called Curriculum Vitae, or CV for short, and gives the recruiter an overview of your career and gives them a first impression of whether or not you are suitable for the advertised position.

Recruiters usually read the CV first and then decide whether to read your cover letter at all. Therefore, the correct design and structure is particularly important in addition to the content. A resume can be divided into three types: the tabular, the detailed and the handwritten resume. The tabular version is also the most frequently used form. However, for the sake of completeness, we would like to briefly explain all three options:

The tabular resume

In the tabular version, you list all the stages and qualifications chronologically and divide them into different sections, for example, your academic career including your school or university, your professional career and your knowledge and skills. It offers the recruiter a clear overview of your career to date, which he or she can quickly skim.

For example, you can sort your experience by industry, or create a category for possible leadership experience, then group different stages of your career under one heading. This variant is also rather rare and should only be used if you can also form meaningful categories.

The detailed resume

Unlike the tabular CV, the detailed version is written like an essay and contains all relevant information in one continuous text. In most cases, this involves one to two DIN A4 pages as a PDF or Word document. Since there is no clear division into individual areas as in the case of the CV in table form, you should definitely pay attention to a good outline and structure and proceed chronologically.

Writing a resume: useful tips and tricks

The handwritten resume

The handwritten CV is very outdated and is only required by very few companies. The layout and principle are similar to the detailed resume with the only difference that you handwrite everything down. Of course, you should not write with a pencil on a college notepad, but use a high-quality ballpoint pen or ink fountain pen and choose high-quality and thick paper with a thickness of at least 100 g/m².

Background: What you should know about writing your resume

Writing a resume seems easy at first glance, but you have to consider a few things regarding the form, the design and the content in order to convince the recruiter about you. You can read more about this in this section.

What formalities should be observed with a resume?

Structure

The correct and structured structure of your career to date is extremely important. Proceed in an antichronological manner, i.e. put your current or most recent job first and then go back into the past. The reader sees the most current information at first glance and only this information is relevant for your application. For each section that you have created in your resume, follow this sequence.

This means that you list your acquired qualifications under the respective station, for example your last job, in short bullet points and show the recruiter what hard skills you can already demonstrate. Always use a consistent spelling and structure for the design and layout.

Content

How detailed your resume should be depends, of course, on your experience and your career to date. It is important, however, not to digress too much and to present only the most important things briefly and succinctly, so that the recruiter can see whether your qualifications are suitable for the position in question as soon as he or she skims over it. Data and information that are not necessarily important for the job should be left out or only included very briefly. Which data you have to mention exactly in your resume, we will explain later in this article.

End

At the end of each resume, there is your signature, date and place. The signature should be handwritten. If you send the document as a PDF file, you can either scan and paste your signature or print out the resume, sign it and finally scan it in its entirety.

What absolutely belongs in my resume?

The reason for this is the General Equal Treatment Act, which now also makes it possible to send in an anonymous application. This is to prevent applicants from being discriminated against in the application process on the basis of their appearance, nationality or religion.

In the following, we list both the compulsory and the voluntary information that you can always use as a checklist.

Mandatory information

  • Personal data
  • Overall background
  • Your highest degree, e.g. apprenticeship or study
  • Special and relevant skills, for example languages or computer skills
  • Place, date and signature

Voluntary information

  • Nationality
  • Marital status
  • Religious affiliation
  • The application photo
  • Interests and hobbies in your free time
  • Qualifications and awards
  • Experience abroad

Of course, you do not have to list the mandatory information, but in the best case you can find a mix of mandatory and voluntary information and should not omit, for example, the application photo or qualifications and awards. You can omit a photo if you have already included it in your cover sheet.

How should my resume be structured?

In the following, we will show you how to structure your resume and what information you should include in the individual sections.

Title

The title of your resume should be at the top and in a font size of about 20 or larger. You can choose between a classic variant such as "Curriculum vitae" and "Curriculum vitae of …" or you can use your name as the title. If you choose this option, you do not have to list your name again in the contact and personal information.

Contact details and personal information

Your contact details and personal information are placed at the top of your resume. The header or the space next to your application photo is usually suitable for this purpose. You should list this data at this point:

  • First and last name
  • Full address
  • Telephone number
  • E-mail address
  • Date of birth (dd.mm.yyyy)
  • Place of birth
  • Nationality
  • Denomination

The mentioning of your nationality belongs, as you have already experienced, to the voluntary information. You can also omit them. Make sure that your e-mail address is as serious as possible and not hasenpups95. This does not make a good impression and is an exclusion criterion for many recruiters.

Education

After that you have to fill in information about your academic education. Include both your school education and your professional training such as studies. Do not start with elementary school, but with your last school-leaving certificate and build your professional training on it. Go here antichronologically and put your current or previous station at the top.

The completion of a semester abroad should also be listed in this section. This is an indication that you have intercultural competencies. The same applies if you grew up in another country and attended elementary school there. In such cases, feel free to list the elementary school in this section of the resume as well.

Writing a resume: useful tips and tricks

The period of your education is always indicated with mm/yyyy, e.g. 01/2019 – 06/2020 or – today. The date is on the far left, on the right you then arrange more detailed information about your school or the training company and always mention your final grade as well.

Professional career

Finally, continue with your work history. Again, use the same date format as before and place it to the left. Finally, on the right you list the exact details of your profession. Again, you should proceed antichronologically, as the recruiter is most likely to be interested in your last job. You should definitely include the following information:

  • Exact time details of your occupation
  • Employers you have worked for
  • Your position title
  • Your tasks and achievements

List your tasks and achievements in short and meaningful bullet points. In this way, the recruiter will know directly what skills you have and whether you are suitable for the advertised position on the basis of your experience.

If you have changed departments within your job or have been promoted, you should make sure to mention this. The entire period of your employment as well as the company are at the top, your different positions finally follow antichronologically below with an indication of your positions or activities.

Knowledge

Finally, it’s your turn to list your special skills. With your knowledge you can stand out from the crowd and give your application more individuality. If your qualifications and skills match the advertised position, you already have a big advantage over other applicants. You should list the following skills here:

  • Language skills
  • Further education and certificates
  • Experience abroad
  • Scholarships
  • Your own projects
  • Computer skills or programming languages
  • Driver’s license class

At this point, only list information that really fits the advertised position and provides added value. If you are applying in marketing, for example, you do not have to list your driver’s license class.

Write different headings for the individual points again, which you arrange on the left, for example, language skills or further education. Finally, on the right, you put the exact title and also give your own assessment of your skills, for example: English, fluent or PowerPoint, very good.

Hobbies and interests

The area of hobbies and interests is optional in any resume and is not a criterion that would exclude you if you do not list this item. However, in this way you can give the personnel officer a better picture of yourself and. Behind all the facts and figures is your personality, which also qualifies you for a job. This will help you to identify soft skills, which are just as important in professional life as your hard skills.

If, for example, you are a volunteer or coach of a sports club, this shows leadership responsibility and a sense of responsibility. If you play on a soccer team, that again means team player. If you record your own podcast or like to draw, this shows creativity and ingenuity.

It is important to divide these points again into individual headings, for example, hobbies, commitments, or interests. On the right, list the name of the organization or association and your exact position or activity. In addition, you should only mention those points that give a positive image of you and make you stand out from the crowd. Hobbies like cinema, computer or reading do not make a good impression. It is also better not to list dangerous extreme sports.

What to write on your resume if there are gaps?

If you are unemployed or have dropped out of education, you should simply tell it like it is. After all, life does not always go according to plan. It is only important that you are open with it. If you have been dismissed due to redundancy or have handed in your notice yourself, this is of course a good reason, which you should also not conceal under any circumstances. If you have been ill for a longer period of time, you can also indicate this; after all, the only thing that matters to the recruiter is that you are fully fit for work again.

However, you can fill in gaps by continuing your education, retraining or taking a language course, for example. Traveling to strengthen your intercultural skills is also a good reason to fill a gap in your resume. But you can learn more about this in this video:

Which programs can I use to write my resume?

You can even download free examples from the Internet, which are often even adapted to different positions in terms of design and appearance. When choosing a suitable resume template, however, you should pay attention to some points:

  • Does the design and layout fit the advertised position or the company??
  • Does the template fit my personality?
  • Can all relevant data and facts be clearly presented in this layout??

This is especially important in order to remain authentic and to show that you have dealt with the corporate design of the company and the activity. Creative resumes, for example, are best suited for professions such as web designer or marketing manager, while rather simple resumes without a lot of bells and whistles are better received in the financial sector.

What mistakes should I avoid on my resume?

  • Incorrect contact details and wrong numbers in the telephone number
  • Grammatical errors and misspellings
  • A dubious mail address
  • The resume has more than two pages
  • The application photo is of poor quality and does not look serious
  • Incorrect chronological order and no consistent structure
  • Gaps of several months are not filled with experience
  • Listing of irrelevant information and too much verbiage
  • No date and no signature
  • Information that does not correspond to the truth

Be sure to take these points to heart and check your resume for errors before you send it off. If you apply for a job like this, the recruiter won’t even look at the rest of your application and will immediately weed you out of the application process.

Conclusion

A resume is your calling card and should therefore be written with great care and consideration. Errors, gaps or no consistent structure are fatal and do not reflect well on you as an applicant. Take enough time to write your resume and check everything carefully for mistakes before submitting it.

If you take all these tips to heart and implement them in your resume, you have a good chance of being shortlisted for the application process and of convincing the recruiter of your personal strengths.

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