Your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is often your first step toward a new career or job opportunity. It’s also your first chance to make a great impression. Presenting a clear and concise resume which details your qualifications and experience for a job opening is the best way to get the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter.
First, what is a resume?
A resume or CV is a document which outlines your qualifications and experience for a job. It often includes your education, skills, achievements and career objectives. It’s a great opportunity to showcase how you could be an asset to an organisation. A professional level resume is a way to set yourself apart from other candidates. Your resume should be industry specific and tailored to the job you are applying for.
So, what makes a resume stand out?
What a recruiter or hiring manager is looking for in a resume will depend on the industry and job you are applying for but in general there are seven ways you can make your resume stand out.
1. Understand what the organisation is looking for
Review the job advert and the organisation’s website (or online presence) and consider what is relevant to include in your resume. Focus on the organisation’s culture, any keywords that should be included, and what will be expected from you in the role.
2. Make it specific
Tailor your resume to the specific organisation and job opportunity – prioritise any employment experience that applies. Highlight relevant positions to ensure the recruiter or hiring manager knows you understand what they are looking for.
3. Use a header and a career summary/objective
Including a header and a career summary/objective can help recruiters/hiring managers notice your resume amongst the large volume of resumes they see each day (and for each job opening). Your header should include your name and contact details so that your information is readily available at the top of every page of your resume.
Your career summary/objective should be at the beginning of your resume and provides an opportunity to explain your career goal and the skills you can bring to the organisation. Including this statement allows the recruiter/hiring manager to learn more about you quickly and easily. The career summary/objective should be no longer than three sentences and reviews your relevant experience and skills – think of it as a snapshot of what you have to offer.
4. Include relevant skills
Ensure you include skills that will be deemed valuable to the position you are applying for. Review the job posting for required skills and address those. For example, if you are applying for a graphic design position, highlight the design software and programs you work with and exclude your barista skills since they aren’t relevant to this position – the ability to make excellent coffee is fantastic but not important in this instance!
5. Keep it concise
Short and sweet wins with resumes. While your resume can extend to several pages, often two pages is best – include only the information that will help you stand out and get you through to the next stage in the recruitment process. If you’ve been out of high school for a few years, exclude that – it’s not relevant anymore.
6. Keep it simple
A well-designed resume will be appreciated but make sure that your creativity is professional and doesn’t detract from the important information. Top tips for the design of a simple and professional resume include:
- Font – ensure the font is legible. Consider a professional font such as Calibri, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica or Times New Roman.
- Size – ensure the font size is easy to read. Consider using size 12 font.
- Template – ensure your resume design is both minimal and aesthetically pleasing. Consider using a template where the visual elements don’t distract from the content of your resume.
- Colour – ensure you choose an attractive colour scheme. Consider opting for black, white and one other colour such as a blue or a green. White is a fantastic background colour, black is best for text, and your third colour can be used to highlight important details.
There’s nothing worse than submitting a resume full of typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Not only does it make your resume difficult to read, but it doesn’t show you in a very professional light. Demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail by presenting an error-free document. Read over your resume carefully, use tools such as software spelling and grammar checks, read your resume aloud to highlight mistakes, and ask a friend or family member to review it for you for a final check.
Your resume is your best chance to stand out from the crowd of candidates – don’t waste it.
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