How to stand out as a great candidate in secondsThe ability to spot a great candidate in seconds is how recruiters succeed in their competitive and fast-paced market. They need the skills that allow them to scan resumes and applications quickly while not missing any important details. As a candidate, it’s important that you effectively stand out. So how can you optimise your application to ensure success?

In order to stand out in a crowded job market, you’ll need to ensure your application content is short, sharp and compelling. It needs to sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the role you are applying for. We often liken resumes to sales proposals on YOU! So what really matters?

  • Format: First impressions do count, so use a format that’s appealing. If your resume looks good, it says a lot about you as a candidate. It conveys professionalism and strong attention to detail. Some colour is OK although we don’t recommend including a photo (unless you’re a model or actor). Take notice of spelling, grammar and edit the content to suit the role – ensuring language used matches the industry or job you’re applying for and the company and contact names are correct. Address your cover letter properly including the person’s title and the company address and make sure to change any factual references to the job or company if you’re using a template. Save it as a PDF to ensure it appears in a consistent way – and name it <first name> <last name> Resume. That way, recruiters can quickly and easily identify you and your relevant material.
  • Structure: Place information in a logical sequence, concentrating on the most important first. We recommend a clear and concise summary up front highlighting briefly who you are and what you have to offer. Skip the career objective unless you’re a recent school leaver since employers are more interested in what you’re going to do for them. Ensure your contact information is displayed clearly at the top or bottom of your resume’s first page, and include links to professional networks, personal URLs or samples of work showcasing your accomplishments. You can include two to four referees, otherwise it is perfectly acceptable to simply state ‘References available upon request’. Use clear (bolded) headings to differentiate sections but steer clear of underline (unless you’re including a publications list) which can make your resume look cluttered.
  • Key Capabilities: A section highlighting key capabilities as they relate to the role you are applying for should also be near the top (after the career profile). These should be re-ordered for each role you apply for – ensuring they reflect what the recruiter is looking for. Try not to use generic statements like ‘Strong communication skills’ but rather provide some context around how you apply these skills. E.g. ‘Strong communication skills with extensive experience writing content for internal and external publications, websites, and sales collateral’.
  • Achievements: Clearly identify your value by focusing on how your employer benefited by you doing what you did. It’s important to do this for each role – not just as a summary section but demonstrating how you contributed in each of your previous roles. This highlights to a potential employer how they might benefit by recruiting you. Where you can, quantify your accomplishments by including numbers, percentages or clear improvement results. Estimates are OK to include if you don’t have specifics, however be prepared to back these up in an interview if asked.
  • Consistency: Display job history in reverse chronological order starting with your current or most recent role. Include months and years for start and finish dates. Same for education, qualifications and personal development – list these with the most recent first and include the year you completed it and where (institution or training provider) it was done. It’s OK to have gaps in your employment, but always explain them so the recruiter is not left wondering. For any extended periods of unemployment, you could include relevant volunteer work or how you maintained current knowledge of your industry during that period.

Memorable resumes build an immediate connection with maximum impact – clearly and concisely conveying to the recruiter how you could be a great candidate for the role.

Are you interested in some assistance from a professional Resume Writer to help you prepare a winning resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.


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