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By Kate Southam, Editor of .
The thought of writing a resume fills many people with dread. However, all you need is a plan that covers both lay out and content. CareerOne's website editor and Ask Kate columnist, Kate Southam passes on the advice from the experts.
The plan below should help you produce a resume that is easy to read and packed with facts employers want to know.
Centre contact details at the top of the page. Include name, address, phone number, mobile and email. Make sure your name and phone/email contacts are on each page just in case the pages get separated after being printed out in hard copy. Only use professional-sounding email addresses. Emails used by couples or zany nicknames like evilpixie@ should be replaced. This is a marketing document promoting you so use some variation of your name.
Birth date and marital status
You are not legally obliged to include either detail. Including marital status in this day and age just looks plain weird to me. As for age, MANY recruiters advise against it - there is just too much age prejudice out there. However, if you think displaying your birth date would be an advantage to you, then go ahead.
Again, this is really open to debate but the best advice I've heard is “keep it simple”. Font style should be easy to read like 11 point Times New Roman or Arial. I've noticed many candidates use a table format but I find this wastes a lot of space and thus creates more pages. Centring contact details and your Career history or Career summary (see next section) is fine and then placing the other information flush left.
Bold for headings is easier to read than bold and underline (overkill). Use dot points if you want, but just the one type. I have seen resumes with a variety of dot points. Also avoid colours. The content of the resume is the most important thing.
Summarising your strengths upfront
You can do this two ways. Either via a list of Key Strengths represented as dot points or by creating a section under a heading like Career Profile.
Based on my conversations with recruitment consultants, a Key Strengths area represented with dot points is the popular option. The aim of the section is to give the person reading your resume a quick snapshot of what you have to offer so they place you in the short list pile.