How to write a quality resume?

30 seconds to impress the recruiter

Recruiters do not generally spend much time pondering over a particular resume: not more than 30 seconds on average. Internet submissions leave their inboxes flooded with job applications and they do not have time to waste on badly written CVs and cover letters. It is this 30 second limit that dictates the content and how it is arranged: anything that is most likely to grab the employer's attention must come first. It is important to not only think twice about what to include, but also about the style of the resume. Whether one opts for the chronological or functional type, the document has to be neat, well laid out and easy to read.

Things that are most important to recruiters and employers – skills, education, work experience, character – are more effective when they are presented in such a way that they reinforce and illustrate each other. For instance, instead of listing three separate facts – I worked as a software consultant for Firm X, my clients included X and Y, I have a keen interest in Application Z - it is both more effective and elegant to write "My work as a software consultant for Firm X has allowed me to explore my interest in Application Y and brought me several new clients and contacts." In this way, the dry facts take the back seat to personal achievements and interests, allowing the recruiter to see the candidate in a more compelling light.

What to include

Information that each resume must include is the name, address, contact number, work experience, education and skills. Anything else – references, personal information irrelevant to the job, photographs, unrelated hobbies and activities, salary outline, objectives – is better left out unless the advertisement specifically asks for it. The thing to keep in mind is that the three main characteristics employers look for in any prospective employee are a strong work ethic, personal integrity and good communication skills. Any personal information that does not serve to illustrate these is usually redundant.

Ground rules

In terms of form, these are the basic guidelines to follow:

  • use clean paper
  • check for spelling and grammar mistakes
  • use bullets instead of paragraphs wherever possible
  • use font size 11 or 12 (except for the name and headings)
  • write the name and subsection headings in bold
  • do not write less than a page and a half or more than two pages

There are three basic formats used to write CVs: the chronological, the functional and a combination of the two.

The chronological format, with work experience listed in reverse order, is still the most popular format among employers since it makes it hard for applicants to conceal any periods of unemployment or tendencies to change jobs too quickly.

Only use the functional CV, with experience and achievements broken down into specific areas (e.g. sales and marketing, communications, web development) if you do not have any work experience in the field you are applying for. If, for instance, you are applying for the job of IT consultant for the first time, it is never a good idea to try to fill up the resume with a list of previous jobs that had little or nothing to do with IT consulting. The functional format gives you a better alternative, as it allows you to focus on experiences that may be related to the sector, on projects that entailed skills and knowledge relevant to the job, interests that led to your decision to apply for the position or personal attributes that may convince the recruiter that you are suitable for the job.

The specific characteristics recruiters look for in consultants are an analytical ability and interpersonal skills. When you provide the list of projects you have worked on, make sure you outline the aspects of the work that point to those attributes: key objectives and issues of the projects you worked on, the size of the teams, the technologies used (including how and why they were used), your responsibilities. It is advisable to also include a list of technologies you are familiar with or specialize in as well as the industrial sectors you have worked in.

See the example below.

100 White House,
Vicarage Crescent, Battersea
London SW11 3LH
Telephone: 020 – 7737 2471


Accomplished, motivated and versatile IT professional; web administrator, .NET software developer, support analyst and occasional lecturer with 10 years of experience in the IT industry, known for a personable approach to clients and co-workers as well as for delivering and implementing advanced software solutions to small and medium-size businesses, seeks the next big career challenge and an opportunity to apply his knowledge and expertise on a larger scale. Innovative and driven, consistent over-achiever, excellent co-ordinator and organiser, responsible and efficient project manager.


  • 1992 – 1996     King’s College London – 7 O Levels
  • 2004 – 2007      University of Edinburgh Management School – MBA


  • IBM Advanced Skilled Technical Expert
  • Microsoft Certified Applications Developer (MCAD)
  • Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
  • Certified Information Security Manager
  • Cisco Certified Design Professional
  • Certified MySQL 5.0 Database Administrator
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • BEA Certified Architect – SOA Enterprise Architecture
  • Oracle DBA Certified Administrator (OCA)
  • Project management
  • Team coordination
  • Customer service
  • Sales and advertising


  • Languages: Java, C++, C#, XML, SQL, JavaScript, HTML, CSS
  • Frameworks: J2EE, Servlets, JSP, Spring, Hibernate, JDBC, RMI, JUnit
  • Concepts: OOA, OOD, TDD, UML, Patterns, Networking
  • Software: Resin, Weblogic, JBoss, TomCat, Apache, Oracle, MySQL
  • Systems: Linux, Solaris, Unix, Windows, NCR MP-RAS


MBX Technologies
2006 – 2007

Senior Software Consultant and Project Manager
  • developed new commercial applications using Java/J2EE
  • designed and implemented a custom-developed SOA platform
  • developed SOA solution accelerators to reduce implementation timeframe

ZWAR Enterprises
2003 – 2006

Senior Software Engineer
  • designed and developed relational databases and analysis packages for several medium sized companies
  • designed and customized an object oriented interface model for control and automation
  • implemented and customized data processing tools for preparing flood simulation and agriculture development projects

AZX Solutions (software programming company)
1998 – 2002

Software Developer and Support Analyst
  • coordinated all upgrades and support work on existing applications
  • provided support to clients
  • coordinated vendor customization
  • assisted transformation programs for small businesses
  • led the operations automations team
  • tested and implemented tactical business solutions
  • set up, implemented and provided support for user environments

BCA Network (independent television network)
1996 – 1998

Web Administrator, Systems Programmer and Infrastructure Manager
  • developed and maintained the website for the BCAD Channel
  • built relationships with customers and sponsors
  • planned and reviewed advertising campaigns
  • managed all marketing material, created presentations
  • maintained the firm’s database
  • tested and implemented tactical business solutions
  • introduced new staff to systems