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Like it or not, a successful job search is not likely without a great resume in your arsenal. This one career document can make or break your chances of landing a dream job.

How do you ensure that your resume has the power to grab recruiters by the eyeballs?

Well, let’s cover off some basics first. It needs to be succinct, clean-looking, and readable. It also needs to articulate your career story and explain how you’re uniquely positioned to deliver value to an organisation – in a way that other candidates can’t.

Let’s also establish what a resume is NOT:

  • It isn’t a list of your jobs.
  • It isn’t a summary of your skills.
  • It isn’t a chronology of all the things you’ve done.

In this guide, I will cover all the resume writing rules you need to know in order to write a professional resume in 2020. As a bonus, I’ll illustrate my points with several examples.

By the way, if you’d like to save quite a bit of time and obtain a much better end result, consider hiring a professional resume writer. We have a team of top-notch resume writers who can ensure that your career documents are in the best possible shape.


Rule 1: Tailor Your Resume.

When applying for a new position, you must create a unique and one-of-a-kind resume that is specially tailored to fit each role that you’re applying for.

As mentioned above, a resume is not a mere listicle of all the things you’ve done during your career. Instead, it’s a marketing document that sells your commercial value to prospective employers. As such, it must reposition your experience to meet the specific needs of each employer.

This is not the same as lying.

It’s tweaking your communication, and emphasising certain parts of your experience, in order to help your message land.

Consider this example: if your grandma asks you how your recent holiday was, your response will be very different to that you give to your boss. And both will be very different to the response you give to your friend.


Rule 2: Exclude Irrelevant Information.

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of debate about which details belong on your resume. After writing thousands of resumes, and speaking with dozens of recruiters, we can confidently recommend the following:

  • Your name.
  • Your mobile phone number (with a professional voicemail message).
  • Your email address (make sure it’s appropriate – not
  • The URL of your LinkedIn Profile.


It’s NOT necessary to include:

  • Your gender.
  • Your date of birth (or age).
  • Your address.
  • Your references (these don’t get checked until much later in the process – after an offer is made).

By the way, did you know that a CV and a resume require you to include different details?


Rule 3: Write A Captivating Resume Summary.

Often, recruiters and hiring managers skim over your resume before quickly deciding whether your job application merits their further attention.

The resume summary is usually the section that helps them make that decision.

It works as your resume profile and answers the classic interview question: Tell me about yourself.

Speaking of which, here’s a quick segue that will help you answer this all-important interview question:

Here’s a wrong way to write a resume summary:

“Passionate, driven self-starter with extensive experience in a variety of industries and over 10 years experience managing multiple projects simultaneously in a high-volume environment. Responsible for driving sales to meet business objectives.”

This could be anyone, from Donald Trump to your local bakery assistant. Your resume summary must be aligned to your value proposition and targeted to the role you’re applying for.

If you’re a marketing professional, applying for a senior marketing role at a funded startup, your resume summary should say:

“I specialise in creating B2B marketing strategies which enable venture capital-backed startups to scale from $1m ARR to $5m ARR”.


Rule 4: Ditch Your Career Objective.

A resume objective is typically a 3-4 sentence statement that provides a high-level overview of your ambitions. It’s also, frankly, a load of rubbish by virtue of the fact that it’s typically filled with nauseating cliches and self-serving propaganda.

It will also be promptly ignored by recruiters and hiring managers.

Don’t waste valuable resume real estate on the career objective. It’s a relic of the 1990s and will not contribute to your job application in any meaningful way.


Rule 5: Make Your Resume Look Professional.

Resume design matters.

Yes, it’s true that no person has ever been hired because solely because they had a good-looking resume. But plenty of great candidates have been prematurely disqualified because their resumes:

  • Didn’t look professional.
  • Were hard to read.
  • Didn’t have enough white space.
  • Were too crowded with text.
  • Looked like “fruit salad” (too many different font sizes, font types and font effects).

Make sure that your resume looks like a professional, good-looking, modern document. ‘Nuff said.


In Conclusion.

Your resume – apart from your passport, drivers license, birth certificate and marriage certificate – is one of the important documents you’ll own during the course of your life.

It should be treated as such – because it has the power to either open or close doors of opportunity for you. Before you apply for any job, either make sure your resume looks and feels like a professional marketing document. Either learn how to write a professional resume yourself or hire an Exceptional Resume Writer to help you.


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