The average recruiter will spend seven seconds reviewing your resume before deciding if you are worth shortlisting. Writing a resume that gets noticed is your most important tool when job searching. When reviewing applications, a recruiter is looking for a reason to reject your application. The trick to resume writing is not trying to be different, but meeting expected criteria to avoid the reject pile.
Step One: Resume Layout
A chronological resume is the most commonly used and expected layout. It lists your work history in reverse order (the most recent first). This makes it easy for a recruiter to quickly scan the document to see your skills and experience, who you have worked for, how long you have stayed in your jobs, and how your career has progressed.
A resume should ideally be one page long and no more than two pages. Spending just seven seconds on each resume, recruiters will lose interest with long resume’s. Make sure the relevant information isn’t hidden among lots of pages. Less is more when it comes to resumes.
Keep the format consistent with the same bullet points and heading styles throughout the resume.
Make sure your resume is legible and easy to read. Don’t clutter it with dense paragraphs and illegible fonts. Remember, you need to make it easy for the recruiter to see what you are offering.
Don’t use coloured paper or fonts. Your resume needs to look professional.
Don’t include your picture or any graphics such as charts or graphs.
Don’t use headers and footers for your personal information (or any information) as headers and footers are not picked up in candidate database searches. This will make your resume invisible to any company that uses candidate management software.
When designing the layout of your resume the aim is to not stand out. You can become memorable during the interview. Your goal is to avoid the reject pile by not giving the recruiter a reason to discard your application. By not standing out, you will be writing a resume that gets noticed.
Step Two: Writing A Resume
The content of your resume should be under the following three headings:
This section should be brief and to the point. Don’t waste valuable resume real estate on useless information that does not showcase the value you are offering. It is at the interview that the recruiter will want to get to know you better.
• Include your full name, preferred name and contact details.
• Include one phone number and one email address that only you access and control.
• Make sure your voicemail message is professional as well as your email address. For example, don’t use an email such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Include a URL to online profiles (such as LinkedIn) and your website address (as discussed in this article). The recruiter will do an online search on you, this way you can direct them to the information you want them to see. It also ensures they find the right person online.
• Include your age, marital status and how many children you have.
• Include a photo of yourself on your resume (although you must have a professional photo on your website and any online profiles).
• Include your hobbies unless you can tangibly link them to a skill set or accomplishment that will add value to the job you are applying for.
The executive summary provides a snapshot of who you are professionally and what you have to offer.
Many people waste this section on vague sentences that do not add any value. Another mistake is to use this section as a statement on your career ambitions. At this stage of the process, the recruiter is only interested in what you can offer the recruiting organisation, not what your dreams and ambitions are.
• The executive summary should be no longer than two small paragraphs.
• It should state who you are professionally (ie – job title or industry), and what makes you the best candidate for the job.
• As often as possible, the summary should use verbs to start phrases and not nouns.
• You should avoid statements about what you want from a job. Instead focus on what you can provide an employer.
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This section should chronologically list your jobs from the most recent first. If you have had many jobs, it is best to only include positions in the later part of your career.
It is important to focus your resume on what will sell, not irrelevant experiences from the past.
• Have a heading for each job that clearly states your position title.
• Under the heading state the company name and dates you were in that position.
• Include a statement that describes the company including the size of the company financially. You can usually find something like this on the company website or annual report.
• Limit yourself to three bullet points per job to describe what you did.
• Focus on your accomplishments and not your duties. If you feel you need to include a duty, include how this added value to the company.
• When describing your accomplishments, quantify what you delivered. For example, state the money you saved, value of sales increase, value of project delivered. Provide specific statements rather than vague statements.
• Accomplishments should be described by result first, what the catalyst was and how it was achieved.
• Make sure you list any impressive awards you have received. To quantify the award, make sure you describe what the competition was like.
• Associate yourself with big brands. Even if you did not directly work with a big brand, mention them if you worked with them through your job, such as a client or major supplier.
• Don’t provide too much information, just enough to showcase what you can offer. A recruiter may find a reason to reject your application if you provide too much information.
There is no need to provide a reference section as the recruiter will ask for this information if they decide to progress with your application.
Step Three: Editing
This stage is vital when writing a resume that looks professional.
It is best to leave your resume for 24 hours and edit with fresh eyes the next day. It is also important to ask someone else to edit your resume because it can be difficult to spot mistakes in your own writing.
• Take the time to target your resume for each job you apply for. Look at the job advertisement and company, then customise your resume with keywords to highlight your skills and experience that are relevant to the position.
• Check for typo’s, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
• Make sure you have consistently used the same fonts, layouts, bullet points and headings.
• Use keywords to make sure your resume is noticed by computer database searches. Focus on words used in the job advertisement, company website, job description or terms commonly used in the industry.
Writing a resume that gets noticed is as easy as following this advice. A great resume will avoid the reject pile and secure an interview.