A common comment, I hear often from clients is they want their résumé to stand-out in a potentially overwhelming applicant pool. So what exactly makes a CV stand out?
First of all, not every job posting receives over 200 applications, like some people hear. Yes, there are some over-saturated job markets with high volumes of applications. In my opinion, anything over 50 applications can be a lengthy screening process for Recruiters.
So, what is it?
What is the secret to stand out, even in a pool of 50 applicants? A lot of people think that a fancy, high-tech, graphically designed résumé will help them stand out in the crowd or adding colour or some cool and funky graph or table will surely do the trick. I tell all of my clients not to expect a high-tech graphically designed résumé from me. However what you will get is a well-presented, easy to read and a clear design to draw the eye to the important things; the content. And there you have it, that’s the secret: it’s all about the content!
As a Recruiter, the first thing I look for and want to know when I open a CV is:
- Where are they working? And what are they doing?
Next (depending on the role) is usually:
- What qualifications do they have?
Then, I’ll scan through to see what key skills they have and do they match or even have a tiny bit of relevance to what I’m looking for?
If I can see all (or at least the top two) of these things on the first page of a résumé and the format is easy on the eye, then well done you have caught my attention! If you present some of the skills I am looking for; bam you’re through to the next shortlist. Chances are I haven’t even scrolled past the second page or read the cover letter (yet!). These are still important, however not always the very first thing a recruiter may read.
Top Tips for writing a quality résumé:
- The content is relevant, easy to read, demonstrates your skills, qualifications and achievements.
- Your current or most recent position makes the first page of your résumé along with qualifications (if they are relevant).
- It’s not over-crowded. Yes, I know I am asking for a lot on the first page. However it still needs to be easy on the eye, for the reader to be drawn to the important things rather than left feeling overwhelmed with columns and squished in information, unsure where to look.
- It’s not an autobiography of your career life. Whilst your career may be ever-so -interesting, your story is more for the interview stage where you can share this verbally not for your résumé. Be factual and precise and use action words to explain what you did in your current/past roles.
- Write in past tense. Always for your past roles, use past tense. If it doesn’t feel comfortable for your current role it is ok to use present tense but only for your current role.
- Key achievements are great and really pop in your résumé. However it’s best to add these to the specific role they are relevant to, rather than in a separate section on the resume all together (i.e. not taking up the valuable space on the first page).