A good resume in tabular form is easy to read and clearly structured, and conveys a lot of information to the reader in a matter of seconds. It should comprise no more than two to three pages and contain the following information:
Table of contents
- First and last name (if it is not clear which is your first and which is your last name, you can specify them [first name and last name: Hans Josef]).
- Full address without abbreviations like “str” (e.g. Bahnhofstrasse, not Bahnhofstr.)
- Telephone number(s) always specify when giving several numbers (mobile, office, home). Ideally you should supply one number on which you can always be reached. Throughout the application period, you should keep your telephone answering device activated and ensure that the message is businesslike.
- A professional e-mail address (first name.last email@example.com)
- Date and place of birth
- If necessary your nationality, if it is not clear from you name and place of birth that you are a Swiss citizen. Non-nationals should cite their residence and working permits (L/B/C).
- Optional: Information on marital status and children
If the job ad does not ask for a photo, you are free to decide whether to supply one or not. However, a photo does make your application more personal. Since an application photo is designed to present you at your best, it must fulfill the following criteria:
- High quality/resolution in color or in black and white (this applies equally to paper photos and digital images in electronic applications).
- Pleasant look, relaxed and friendly smile (passport photos from a booth on which you are not permitted to smile and which are smaller than real application photos are not ideal.)
- Natural, well-groomed appearance, with formal and discreet clothes, appropriate for an interview in your line of business (shirt, blouse, jacket, blazer)
- Recent photo (max. 2 years old). Do not select a photo that is five years old just because you particularly like it. Choose one that is recent. It is important that you are authentic and honest.
- Neutral background
- The portrait should be limited to head and shoulders. Never provide a full-body shot. The photo should be between 4.5 x 6.5 cm and 6 x 9 cm in size.
- Never use photos taken on your mobile phone, or personal holiday pictures, etc. Supply photos that are specially created to apply for a job in that specific business.
You can get inexpensive photos for your application at Foto Welti
Students and graduates with little professional experience are advised to list their academic achievements first, starting with their school-leaving certificate, stating the month and year, without gaps, in reverse chronological order (e.g. 09/2008 - 09/2010). The information must include
- Name and place of the institution and the qualification that was or is to be achieved
- Study program or combination of subjects
- Optionally, the title of the final thesis or research priorities and areas of interest
- Semester abroad and research stays spent during the course of your studies
- Expected time of degree completion or grade (if good or excellent)
- Time frame
Structure and formulate your professional experience in the same way as for your education. State
- Name and place of the company/institution and the department in which you were working
- Job title
- Duties and functions that you fulfilled there
- Time period of your employment (e.g. 07/2010 – today)
Categorize your duties and functions into fields of activity (e.g. administration, organization, management, sales), taking a separate line for each field of activity and avoiding line breaks. Begin each time with the duties that demonstrate a high degree of responsibility and own initiative and which are most relevant for the new job. Adapt your resume to the job you are applying for.
Professional experience also includes traineeships and temporary part-time jobs, however sporadic or irregular. If these are not relevant to the new job and you have since gained more interesting professional experience then you can consolidate them into one period, e.g. 08/1996 - 12/2010 various activities in sales, administration, customer service, childcare.
Ideally, you should structure and formulate further experience in the same way as your education and professional experience. Further experience could be
- Voluntary work (fire service volunteer) and involvement at the University (student organization, student union, etc.)
- Military service (giving the length of the service and military rank; officers and above can cite military service as professional experience.)
- Minor courses of continuing education that do not count towards your degree.
List in the left hand column the languages you speak, and specify your written and spoken levels in the right hand column. Common terms of specification include mother tongue, business proficient, fluent, excellent, good, basic knowledge. It is worth consulting the CEFR scale developed by the Council of Europe describing the levels A1 to C2.
If you have learned languages to certificate level here or abroad, state this under the particular language in the right hand column and state on the left the year or time period in which you gained the certificate or attended a language school abroad.
Categorize your IT skills into two columns, as for your language skills. How you fill out the columns largely depends on the scope of your IT skills and technical competencies in relation to operational, hardware, and network systems. In the column on the left, you can list terms such as data processing, graphics, audio, etc. and add details of the corresponding programs on the right. Alternatively, you can specify the individual programs in the left hand column and describe your application skills on the right with terms like “experienced user” or “basic knowledge”.
Hobbies and Interests
Sporting interests can give insight into whether you are a team player or a lone fighter, an introvert or an extrovert. As your hobbies should ideally reflect advantageous aspects of your character that relate to the job, only mention hobbies that you can say something meaningful about. Be careful not to generalize but give precise information. Again, we recommend two columns : On the left, enter general terms like sport, travel, reading, etc. and on the right give details, for example by naming the individual sports, any awards you have won, or information on long-term club activities. Hobbies like reading should not be substantiated with book titles but with information on your favorite genre or your preferred authors, for example.
There is an unwritten law that says that references should not be listed on a resume if this is not explicitly mentioned in the job ad. However, you can show that you have references with the following sentence: “References will be made available upon request.” In the event that references are requested, see the section on references under Enclosures.
List of Publications
If you have already published works and this is relevant to the position, you can list your works or excerpts from them. This applies to jobs for academics and scientists but also to jobs that require experience in editing, using various communication channels, or communications geared to a specific target group.
- Now it’s time to reverse roles: Think about who will look at your portfolio and what that person will want to see. Ultimately, the bait is for the fish and not for the angler.
- Adapt your resume according to each position advertised.
- Keep your phrasing short and precise, and design the document to ensure that future employers and HR staff can acquire a picture of you within seconds.
- Draw up a strategy to deal with questions regarding gaps in your resume at the interview. Also include partially concluded study programs in your resume, since you gained competencies in those subjects too.