So there’s this great career opportunity for you in 2016…

Let’s get straight to the point about what makes a good resumé:

  1. Get straight to the point. Be succinct. Don’t start with your address, date of birth, photo, hobbies or education. They don’t matter (yet).
  2. Do start with your name and a 3–5 bullet point summary of your background supporting your fit with the role on offer. Do not boast. Be authentic and accurate.
  3. Make it specific to the opportunity. Use inside information — do you know anyone who works there? If you don’t have inside information then try to get it — use Linkedin to make contact.
  4. Keep it to no more than two pages. If you’re an engineer, scientist, lawyer, academic (or similar) additional pages may be needed to include your qualifications, training, papers written, exams taken.
  5. Have a crisp, sharp, easy to read layout. Use colour (very) sparingly (and choose your colour/color of English consistently). Assume you have less than six seconds to make a first impression on your reader. The first impression is the layout — actually, assume less than one second.
  6. Resumés are read online. So use online features, like links to external sources. Triple-check they all work. Use sparingly. If your social media pages are public and, shall we say, less than professional, then fix them.
  7. Summarise your work experience in reverse chronological order. Use positive verbs like built, developed, designed, wrote, improved, grew andincreased, to state what you did. Use bullets.
  8. Many resumés are economic with the truth or simply lie. Avoid it — if you get caught you’re screwed. And it’s unethical.
  9. Clearly state the jobs you’ve had, your education/training and your contact details — probably in that order.
  10. The jury is out on photos (unless you’re an actor or model). When in doubt, leave it out. What’s important is not what people look like, but whether they fit the organization, and can get stuff done.
  11. Be you. Let the document reflect your personality: You are your resumé/CV.
  12. If applying suggestion 11 means ignoring 1–10 then go for it!


Chris Martlew’s new book, Changing the Mind of the Organization — Building Agile Teams, is available at,, and other good bookstores worldwide.


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Photo credit: ATOS International via Flickr

Royalties from the book are donated to War Child.