Recruiters often look at resumes for just a few seconds. Increasingly, job applications are also being screened by software for keywords that relate to the advertised role. To ensure your resume or CV captures the right attention, it needs to quickly hit the mark. Here’s how to do it.
What information should be in your resume?
Here are the sections that strong resumes usually contain:
Name, address, phone number, email and links to relevant social media profiles such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Key strengths and career overview
List up to 10 key strengths as dot points. A ‘career overview’ section is also a good idea – summarise your training and work history in a few sentences.
Describe your professional history in reverse chronological order. Include a short list of responsibilities and achievements for each position. Give explanations for any gaps.
Education and training
Start with your highest or most recent qualification and work back. Include honours and awards.
List relevant professional memberships and accreditations.
List the name, position, company and contact details of two to three people you have worked with – ideally managers or supervisors. Remember to ask their permission.
Hobbies and interests are best left out, unless they are specific to the role.
Keep your resume concise (two to three pages), clear and easy to read. Break it up with headings. Double-check your spelling and grammar. Most of all, be honest.
Should you use a CV template?
Templates can be a good place to start, but you should do some extra work to personalise your resume – it needs to be unique to stand out.
Make sure you look at a few different templates to be sure you’ve picked the most suitable one. Consider the template as a guide that you can change to suit your needs.
Should you enlist the services of a professional?
Professional resume writers can help you produce a polished document that focuses on the information hiring professionals are looking for. A professional resume can cost hundreds of dollars but if you really think you need help, then get it.
Most people write their own. When preparing your own resume, give yourself time, apply good writing techniques and think about how your skills can benefit the organisation you are applying to.
If you’re using a recruitment agent to help with your job search, it might be worth asking them if there are areas of your resume that could be improved. Recruitment agents see hundreds of resumes – both good and bad – and are update with what employers in your chosen field are looking for in a desirable candidate.
Creative resumes and when to use them
Some clever people have had success with eye-catching resumes, like web product manager Philippe Dubost, who built an online resume that looked just like an Amazon product page. Or journalism student Christopher Spurlock, who landed his dream job as an infographic design editor at The Huffington Post with an infographic resume.
These resumes worked because they helped the candidates demonstrate the creative and design skills required by the roles they were applying for. In sectors like finance or academia, a clear list of skills and experience – rather than design – is more likely to get you an interview. Create your resume accordingly.
Use keywords to get noticed
Don’t forget about keywords. Your resume may be screened by software, so it’s essential to include the keywords that the computer is looking for. But how do you know which to use? The best way is to check job ads. Pick out words that are key to the role – like specific skills or software abilities – or words and phrases that are repeated. Include as many in your resume as you (honestly) can.
To make your winning CV stand out even more, get it verified by CVCheck so your potential employer knows you are as good as your resume sounds.