Have you been applying for jobs but not having much success in getting to that next crucial step – the interview? The problem may be that your resume doesn’t stand out. When you send your resume to a recruiter or potential employer, they most likely won’t read it – they will skim it. So if it doesn’t grab their attention in 10 to 15 seconds, it may be headed straight for the rejection pile.
Here are our tips to make sure your resume stands out in way to catch the recruiter’s attention.
- Start off with a short profile: This provides a quick snapshot of who you are. It needs to be sharp and concise. Include who you are, what you do, your area of expertise and your top three skills relevant to the role you’re applying for. It should be a maximum of two paragraphs (or a quarter of a page) and include keywords relevant to the role.
- Order key sections logically: To make your resume easy to read, your sections should be in a clear and logical order. For example: contact details, career profile, core capabilities or skills, professional history, education/qualifications and references. If you’re relatively new to the workforce, put your education section on the front page. If you have ample work experience, then education should follow your work history. Although qualifications are important, recruiters and employers often place a higher value on your work experience and accomplishments.
- Specify relevant industry skills: Make sure you list skills that are industry-specific and relevant to the job you’re applying for. You can research and use similar or related job adverts or descriptions to figure out some of the most important skills. If you have those skills, list them. Sometimes companies mention current projects on their website. Take note of these, and try to incorporate information that demonstrates how you could contribute towards the success of those projects.
- List achievements from past work experience: For every role, try to include two to three achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for. These should be achievements that had a positive impact on the company, rather than personal achievements – recruiters are keen to know what you can do for them. And if possible, make your achievements measurable. For example, ‘Reduced turnaround time by 20%’ or ‘Saved the company $XXX by implementing XYZ initiative’.
- Sell yourself: It’s human nature to play down our achievements. However, when it comes to our resume, we need to throw modesty away. One of the best ways to make your resume stand out is by showing your personality (in a way that’s appropriate for a professional document, of course). This is your opportunity to shout about all your impressive achievements.
- Other activities: Often candidates overlook this section of a resume, assuming it’s unimportant. However, to recruiters, this section can help show the type of person you are and make you a more interesting and memorable candidate. For example, you might include awards you’ve received, challenges overcome, other qualifications, professional memberships and major achievements outside of work.
- Personalise your approach: Find out the recruiter or hiring manager’s name and use it in your cover letter to add a personal touch. Another approach is to call the recruiter before submitting your application. This can help your application stand out by putting you at the front of the recruiter’s mind. If you do take this approach, be sure to present in a polished and professional manner over the phone.
- Make it appealing: Pay attention to the aesthetic of your resume. Structure, formatting, spelling and grammar are all very important. Look for consistency with things like line breaks, text alignment and bullet points. Use of subtle colour is fine, especially in the key section headings, but don’t go overboard.
- Include your LinkedIn profile or portfolio: As well as getting noticed, you also want to make life easier for the recruiter. If there’s a link they can click on to get a better idea of you as a person and candidate, why not include it? Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and including the URL in your resume is great, as it means recruiters can keep up to date with you, even if they’re reviewing your resume months down the line.
Writing a resume that stands out among hundreds is no easy task. A well-written and formatted resume is key to securing the all-important interview. But before you can do that, you need to understand the value you have to offer and what’s most important to your potential employer. For more ideas on how to write a resume and what you should include, visit the Resume section of our Career Advice Blog.
Are you interested in getting assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.