Many people simply don’t understand how important a resume is when it is presented to a potential employer. In fact, a prospective employer can make a quick decision about a potential employee just based on the resume. It is not just the qualifications, skills and experience that are important but often the way a resume has been presented determines whether the prospective employer wants to consider you for a job.
What is a resume for?
A resume is designed to help get a candidate get closer to getting the job by being asked to attend an interview. Many jobs have numerous applicants so the hiring manager has to sieve through all these resumes to select suitable candidates. It is easy to shortlist several if they all have the right qualifications for the job but if there is only one vacancy the selector will look for any key information in the resume that best fits the job. The person selected will move onto the interview stage.
How to make a resume stand out
1. Each resume must have several sections. These cover the following:
- details about your education including the school/ university attended,
- the exact attendance dates, degrees/diplomas gained and any other recognition received.
- work experience including exact dates, name of employer and specific responsibilities for each job.
2. The resume length should be no more than 2 pages.
Any resume which is too long will not catch the attention of recruiters as they will likely be sieving through many resumes and don’t have the time to study long resumes.
3. Ensure it can be easily read and understood
This means using the right word choices, the correct style, appropriate formatting and design and it is better to convey the message about yourself, using simple wording and to keep to the same font choice and size. Common ones preferred these days are arial or Helvetica with a font size either10. 11 or 12. The font size recommended for the applicant’s name is normally in the range of 20 to 24.
4. Be consistent throughout the resume
Being consistent is important if you are eager for the recruiter to carry on reading the resume. So if you decide to use black font ensure this is consistent in the whole resume. If you use one specific font style in a section heading but a different one for bulleted points, keep the same throughout the resume. This adds a professional touch.
The same rule on consistency applies to the structure of the resume. In your work history section, for instance, list the details in the order of “Job Title”, followed by “Company”.
5. Be precise when listing your accomplishments
It is important to include how your duties in previous jobs were performed and how your input had a desirable impact for the organization you were working for. If you accomplished anything outstanding explain the impact you had.
6. Match the resume to the specific job
Customize the resume so that it fits the specific job application. The recruiter will know if you have just provided a mass produced resume designed to fit any job and is unlikely to choose you.
7. Your best accomplishments should appear in the resume’s top third
The top third of any resume is what is viewed first by the recruiter. The recruiter picks up your resume, then quickly scans through the cover letter before studying the resume. The top 3rd of the resume is what is seen first and should be aimed at grabbing attention.
8. Keep just relevant recent skills and work experience
You don’t need to bother trying to engage the recruiter with university achievements if they took place 10 years ago. Keep it short and relevant to the skills and experience the recruiter will be seeking.
9. Offer relevant numbers
If you have some recent accomplishments you wish to share include facts and figures such as how much profit you made for the company,
10. Consider an industry’s professional requirements
Some industries might have some expectations about the appearance of an applicant’s resume. For example, the IT industry places emphasis on the candidate’s skills rather than educational background. It is better for candidates to include the list of their qualifications and skills before experience and work history. The recruiter will see immediately you know the industry’s expectations.
11. Proofread your resume
Just one typo, spelling error or missed punctuation may affect the outcome of an application so make sure you proofread the resume properly.
12. Update your resume regularly
As well as keeping your resume updated you should keep it in different formats such as DOC or PDF as this can save you time later as a few companies may prefer certain file formats.
You may choose to get a professional resume writer to help you but you must proofread the final copy so you can be sure it is going to have the desired effect.