Applying for jobs feels like a job in of itself. It’s time consuming and often has no payoff (literally lol)—but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
But if your resume—the single most important element of any application—isn’t up to scratch, all that work could be for nothing. First impressions count, and if you’ve ruined that first impression by sending off a sloppy CV, you’re out before the game even started.
I don’t understand why we don’t get taught this shit in school. This is way more important than being able to explain why Hamlet took so long to kill his uncle (spoiler: it’s because he’s a sadboi :o). No worries—Professor Syrup’s class is in session.
Here’s how to construct the perfect resume so you have a x 10,000% better chance of scoring that job.
Get the layout right
It sounds dumb when you say it out loud, but you need to be able to actually read your resume. Think about how your resume looks like to a vision-impaired boomer or a harried manager who only spends 3.4 seconds reading each one—if it’s too hard to read because the text is tiny, or there’s text boxes everywhere, or if there’s long, unbroken sentences that go on and on and on… They’re just going to move on to the next CV in the pile.
Microsoft Word, Google Docs and most other word processing suites have a wide variety of nice templates you can build your resume from. However in my personal experience, some of the formatting tricks used in these documents can be very finicky and don’t respond well to layout changes, so if your resume is going to differ significantly from one of these templates, don’t try and retrofit the template into your CV structure.
Remember: you don’t need to win any art prizes with a resume. Unless you’re applying for a graphic design job, your resume just needs to be agreeable to the eye and easy to read.
It needs to have a clear, cohesive structure, with the most important things about you at the top, and a simple, pleasant design. Use simple lines and carriage returns to space out content, and consider expanding the margins of the document if it’s too text-heavy.
Font choice is a seriously underrated element of your resume. Much like how you should pick a layout that isn’t too complicated and easy to read, you should pick a font that’s professional and legible.
There’s a reason Times New Roman and Arial are so popular—they’re basic, easy-to-read fonts that respond very well to scaling. Our suggestion? Avoid fonts that are the current default font for common programs, Calibri for example. Now there’s nothing wrong with Calibiri—it’s the MS Word default for a reason, because it’s simple and effective. Using the default may make you look careless, however.
Just don’t use anything like Chiller, Comic Sans, Joker or Goudy Stout. In fact, you shouldn’t ever be using any of those unironically anyway. They’re terrible.
Trim the fat
It can be tempting to include literally everything you’ve ever done of note on your resume, but an important discipline to get under your belt is the ability to know when to let go~. No, this isn’t us giving you love advice (although we’re here for that too hehe— [LINK]).
Seriously consider whether everything listed on your resume is relevant to the kind of jobs you’re applying for. Maybe mentioning being a Scout leader might have helped you get a job at Maccas when you were fifteen, but is it really worth sharing if you’re going for a law internship whilst you’re at uni?
Employers don’t really care ab your life story, they care about what experience you’ve had that would make you a good fit for their position. If it isn’t, then say goodbye to it, and free up space on your resume for more important info. No-one wants to read a five-page resume.
As mentioned above, tailor your resume (and cover letter, and email, etc.) to the job you’re applying for, rather than sending out a stock-standard CV to every fkn job you apply for. You wanna make things as easy as possible for a recruiter. Highlight the stuff that’s most relevant to the position… I mean literally highlight it. Or put it in bold. Whatever works.
If you were trying to work at The North Face, maybe your Scouting experience is relevant, to use our previous example. It might not make sense to include that in every resume you send out, but for a job at an outdoor clothing brand? Makes sense. It might not be the most valuable bit of experience in your arsenal but calling an employer’s attention to it might just be the difference between you and someone else getting the gig.
Physically print it
Old-school I know, but physically printing your resume and keeping a few copies of it lying around is a good move, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s important to make sure your CV actually looks good in print. Chances are whoever you’re sending it to is going to print it too, so it needs to be readable IRL.
Secondly, it’s good to have a few physical copies so that you’re always ready to apply for a job. Keep a few in your bag as you go about your day-to-day, and if you work past somewhere that’s hiring, you’re ready to go in with your best smile and CV in hand. They’re more likely to employ you if they meet you in person first too.
Lastly, having a physical backup of your resume is important in case there’s a worst-case scenario and all your devices get bricked, or you don’t have access to the internet. If you lose all your data tomorrow or the apocalypse happens or smth you’ll still have that resume on paper.
Resume ready to go? Read our guide to applying for jobs here.