It’s been over 20 years since I’ve worked in graduate recruitment, but it feels like yesterday! It was intense, fast-paced and my desk was constantly swamped with hundreds of resumes and application letters that looked identical in each and every way. There was immense pressure to shortlist a perfectly selected group of candidates within a very tight timeframe. This meant I had mere seconds to assess each candidate, so a standout resume was key to getting an interview.
Fast-forward to today and nothing’s changed. Recent studies have shown that the average recruiter scans a resume for 6 seconds before deciding if the applicant is right for the job.
So, how do you get your resume to stand out from the pack? I’m going to let you in on my 8 insider tips …
- Consider design and format.
Don’t go overboard with intricately decorated templates. Allow for sufficient white space, margins and a font size no smaller than 11 point.
Research what others do in your specific industry for best practice standards, as well as some inspiration. For example, if you’re a graphic designer applying for a role at a creative agency, your resume will look vastly different to a candidate applying for a role in an accounting firm.
With respect to colour, consider text enhancements to help draw attention to particular information or headings to help you stand out from the pack.
PRO TIP: Create a master version of your resume with all the details of your professional history, and then use this to create versions that are tailored specifically to the jobs you’re applying for.
- Be reachable.
Make it easy for recruiters to reach out to you by including your contact information at the top of your resume.
- Open with a powerful introductory statement focusing on your value.
Your personal summary should grab the reader’s attention by providing a snapshot of your value proposition, your experience and how your accomplishments offer substantial return on investment for the employer.
- Show off your skills.
Don’t make recruiters hunt for the most critical information on your resume! Include a bullet point list of your key skill sets on page one. Ensure that your skills reflect the role you’re applying for and show why you’re a good fit.
PRO TIP: Review the job description carefully to ensure your list of skills is clearly aligned with the role you’re applying for.
- List your experience.
Include each company you’ve worked for, your title, the dates you worked there and several bullet points that describe your key accomplishments and responsibilities.
Don’t be afraid to include positions that aren’t directly related to the one you’re applying for, especially if you have limited work experience. You can still use them to demonstrate the skills and qualities you wish to highlight.
Where possible, use concrete data points. This provides recruiters with the scope and context of your work and demonstrates how you contributed to the bottom line – such as reducing costs, driving growth, streamlining operations or helping customers.
Avoid lists of “tasks performed”. HR managers know what they are. You need to convince the reader that you’re qualified to fulfil the role outlined in the job advert by highlighting your key accomplishments at previous jobs. List what you did, as well as the successful outcome of each of your accomplishments.
PRO TIP: Identify the particular problems that the employer needs solved and clearly illustrate how you are the answer to their prayers!
- Cite your education.
Start with your highest educational achievement. Remember to include any certifications and professional development you’ve completed.
- Add extras.
Add some personality to your resume with a short section at the end that reflects your personal brand. Include club memberships, volunteer experience, awards you’ve won and even interesting hobbies or activities. This helps to make you real and gives the hiring manager icebreaker clues during the interview.
- Keep it concise.
Hiring managers don’t have time to read dissertations! Your resume shouldn’t exceed four pages.
PRO TIP: Once you’ve completed your resume and proofread it carefully, ask at least one other person to check it for clarity and accuracy.
And now it’s time to start applying. Good luck!
Need help landing the job? Get in touch.