We’re all guilty of typing “How To Write A Good CV” into Google and scrolling through the same generic tips for the next 20 minutes.
There’s the classic:
- Keep it under 2 pages.
- Put your experience in reverse chronological order.
- Include your qualifications.
- Include your contact details.
- Be mindful of your spelling & grammar.
- Don’t embellish your skills or experience.
But what’s the point in writing a good resume when it doesn’t stand out?
While the generic tips of writing a CV should not be understated, they also fail to acknowledge why you’re writing a resume in the first place.
Let’s break it down:
Your future company has put out a job advertisement because they are missing a key skill set in their business.
So, if we strip back all the niceties, the purpose of your resume is to sell your skill set to potential employers.
It’s a basic demand-supply situation. So, instead of running away from basic economics — let’s jump right into some basic sales psychology. Mainly:
What’s In It For Me?
When writing a resume, many of us forget the most important pillar of writing — Audience.
Without an audience (potential employers), there is no need for the CV.
Potential employers know why they’re hiring and what they’re looking for. They know what they want out of an employee.
So, instead of just putting together a carefully curated timeline of your career, let’s make it very clear what you can do for them and not what you do, in general.
How can you bring value to them and their company? Why is hiring you the best decision for them?
Time is precious and they don’t want to spend too much time on deciphering your resume, when they know they can find a stand-out resume elsewhere.
In fact, it only takes 6 seconds for an employer or recruiter to decide if your CV is worth reading.
We asked our specialised recruitment consultants for any tips on how to make your resume stand out from your competition.
Here are 11 ways you can make your resume stand out, according to our specialised Recruitment Consultants:
Make it scannable
As mentioned above, companies are only looking to hire because they require someone with a specific skill set.
Chances are that when hiring managers or recruiters are sifting through CVs for the whole 6 seconds they have the document before them, they’re looking for keywords.
So, give them what they’re looking for!
If you don’t know what keywords to use in your industry, take a look at what words pop up over and over again in job ads for key roles you’d like to apply to and include the keywords that describe your skill set.
(But don’t get carried away with keywords and embellish!)
Show, don’t tell
While you should use job ads as a reference point for what keywords employers in your industry are looking for, your resume is not a job description.
Take this opportunity to showcase exactly how you helped your former employers move closer to their business goals.
If you work in a technical capacity, focus on capabilities — What apps, systems, or languages did you use in former roles?
If you worked in a functional capacity, focus on deliverables — What was the project scope, budget and time frame?
Think of it this way. If you were a Marketing Manager looking to hire a marketing professional, would you hire:
Candidate A: I improved website traffic.
Candidate B: I improved website traffic by 40% by optimising old content for keywords and backlinks, and driving traffic through Facebook, Twitter and email direct marketing campaigns.
Both candidates accomplished the same task. But, employers are more likely to hire Candidate B, as they know what the candidate accomplished and how they accomplished it.
There is such thing as overkill
While it’s great for employers to see what you achieved and how you did so in your previous roles, it’s important to avoid long lists (or worse — tables of your technical skills)!
Be specific about your best skills: How many years have you worked in the industry/used a particular system/etc.?
And keep those skills that you haven’t used in a number of years off your resume.
… but not when it comes to qualifications
Although it’s advisable to not go overboard on your skills, certifications often go a long way.
This is also true of side projects or GitHub accounts (for any Technology candidates), as it shows that you’re passionate about your industry and take initiative. Add the link.
If you’re a recent graduate with little job experience in your field, detail any volunteer experience or relevant projects that you completed in University.
What was the outcome? What technical skills did you use? Was it a solo or group project?
It’s still valuable experience in your field, and it shows what skills you’ve gained from the project.
Give a little context
Companies like to see resumes that include work in similar industries. It shows that you’re familiar with some of the issues in the industry, and know what competition your potential employer is up against.
So, include a short one-liner about the company and the industry they operate in, as there’s a good chance that potential employers won’t know of the companies you’ve worked for.
If you haven’t worked in the industry that your potential employer operates in, include a short one-liner highlighting any transferable skills and how it will benefit the potential employer.
Be sure to include the month + year you began working for a former employer and when it ended.
E.g. January 2017 — April 2017 instead of just ‘2017’
After all, four months of work is a lot less experience than a full year.
It’s also important to explain any gaps in your employment over 3 months on your resume, as it may raise red flags for potential employers.
Make it yourself easy to find
You didn’t put this resume together for fun, so make it easy for hiring managers and recruiters to contact you by putting your details at the top.
This includes: Mobile number, email address and website (if applicable).
PDF > Word Document
If you’re applying to a potential employer directly, send your CV as a PDF. There are a number of iterations of Microsoft Word, which may affect the layout of your resume or their ability to open it. (And, in turn, may reduce the chances of them contacting you.)
If you’re sending your resume over to a recruiter, send it as a Word document. Recruitment agencies will rebrand your CV to show that they’re representing you. So, sending your resume as in Word makes it a lot quicker for them to rebrand and pass it along to their clients.
Stop writing in the 3rd person
It’s your resume, not a biography.
You are a person, and this is a list of your qualifications and achievements throughout your career. So write like it!
There’s no sense in writing your resume (or LinkedIn!) as though someone else wrote it for you — own your hard work and successes.
Stop putting pictures of yourself on your CV
Unless you’re applying for a modelling gig or an acting role, chances are that your future employer will want you for your brain, not your good looks.
And with your new and improved resume, you’ll be meeting them soon enough anyway!
Time to show off!
Now that you’re an expert resume writer, it’s time to show off your new skills!
We have lots of new career opportunities in the Technology, Business Support, Sales & Marketing, Blue Collar, and Accounting & Finance spaces, so be sure to check out our job board to apply for some of Australia’s top companies using your new resume!
We look forward to your applications!