It’s a competitive world out there in terms of job hunting.
I see hundreds of resumes every week – it’s not unusual to get over 100 applications for certain positions, particularly for entry level roles.
It can be soul destroying for job seekers to repetitively be rejected.
So… how do you make your resume stand out from the crowd?
Here are some tips to make your job seeking mission more effective and to increase the chance of your application getting through to the next round.
It is worth the investment in time to write a powerful, professional resume – after all, your resume is your ticket to getting a job interview.
The chronological resume is the most commonly used way of structuring your information.
It lists your work experience and achievements in each job, beginning with the most recent.
Information should flow in a logical manner with no gaps – account for all your time – don’t leave the reader wondering!
Your personal contact information – make it easy for HR Managers / Recruitment consultants to contact you. Ensure you have a professional voice mail message on your phone – as first impressions really do count, and please return calls promptly.
It is no longer usual to include details under headings such as gender, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity or health.
The best resumes are brief and informative, so every word in this section must work hard for you.
Make keywords work for you – a resume reader / HR assistant / recruitment consultant will spend seconds scanning your resume and based on that will make a decision as to consider your application.
As a general rule, include the most detail about your current job. Ensure you list your job title, with start and finish dates (including the month and year).
If you’ve been in the workforce for some period of time, simply list the position, company and dates of your earlier or least relevant jobs.
Try to illustrate a logical pattern of career development in your account of your work experience. If you have “downsized” your career or moved sideways, you may wish to include a brief reference to the circumstances that motivated your move. For instance, “By accepting a less senior position, I was able to accommodate part-time graduate study. In this role, I…”
Company and Title: make a decision about whether the companies you have worked for are more important than your job titles. The most important information should go first, followed by the job title on a new line. Make sure you maintain a consistent style to allow for quick scanning and comprehension.
Job Summary: don’t just describe your duties and responsibilities.
Emphasize your achievements and show how you contributed to your employer’s business. Carefully consider how you can quantify your goals and achievements.
As an example: “Transformed an inefficient call centre with low morale into an organised, lean and quality focused organisation, increasing revenue by 12 per cent, decreasing costs by 20 per cent and decreasing staff turnover by 25 per cent.”
Education: The level of detail depends on the balance between your qualifications and your work experience. It may be suitable for graduates with little experience to list selected classes and to include results if these are better than average (or requested). As a general guide, the less recent your qualification, the less information you provide. A typical format lists the name of the qualification, the date you graduated, the institution which granted it and your major. For example: BA, 2001, Victoria University of Wellington, Major: History, Add the name of any scholarships or awards you have won to the second line. If you are partway through a qualification, list it like this: Graduate Diploma in Public Relations (RMIT) study commenced 2001, Begin with the highest level of educational achievement. You can leave out details about high school if you have a higher degree or qualification.
The education section usually follows the employment details unless you are recently graduated or you are pursuing an academic position where your educational achievements are more relevant.
By listing how you spend your spare time and what other interests or achievements you have outside of work, you are revealing another layer about yourself. Many employers like to see those extracurricular activities – but ensure they enhance your application not distract from it.
Tips for Resume Presentation:
- Use good quality white or off-white paper.
- Use a common and easily read font.
- Make best use of available space.
- Use page numbers (except on the front page).
- Check and recheck spelling and grammar.
- Use a tiny font size or lines of italic.
- Use clip art
- Don’t include a photograph of yourself (unless its’ requested and appropriate for the role you are applying for i.e. a fashion model) .
- Waste paper on a cover sheet.
- Use coloured paper (it won’t fax or photocopy clearly).
- Trust your computer spell check.
The final Resume checklist – does it pass the test?
1. Are your achievements expressed in terms of the benefits and value you have added to your employers?
2. Are your achievements clearly corroborated by evidence and examples?
3. Have you indicated how you achieved what you did?
4. Are your key strengths and abilities obvious and demonstrable?
5. Are your strengths linked to your achievements and accountabilities?
6. Does it encourage the reader to read the rest of it after they’ve read the first half page?
7. Does it explain what you do beyond your job description?
8. Is it well structured and organised?
9. Is it visually appealing?
10. Is it likely to differentiate you significantly from the rest of the candidates?
11. Is the language simple and straightforward?
12. Does it criticise your employers?
Wishing you well with your job seeking – who knows – I may be phoning you soon to arrange an interview after reading your stand out new resume.