This week I want to talk about making your resume stand out. Tessa is a gun at improving resumes and between the two of us we’ve come up with some top tips. Check them out and comment below if you think we’ve missed some important ones!
Two pages MAX
If there is only one thing you take away from this post, let it be this. Your resume should only be two pages long. ONLY. TWO. PAGES.
I know recruiters that will throw resumes to the bottom of the pile if they are longer than two pages. Think about it from their perspective for a second. There are normally hundreds of applicants for lower level or entry level jobs – sometimes into the thousands. This has only been exacerbated by the pandemic with job shortages and economic downturn. Imagine going through all these different resumes – probably spending a few minutes at the most looking at each one.
The recruiter will skim your resume looking for relevant experience before they actually get into the nitty gritty of your skills and background. Don’t make it hard for them to want to read more! They’ll call you if they want more than two pages of information.
Be specific and action oriented
It’s important to make your experiences stand out from the crowd by being really specific in describing them. There’s a difference between saying ‘Consulted on projects’ and saying ‘Consulted with top level executives on digital transformation projects’. Recruiters will know what is involved generally with the type of role you have, but they will want to be able to see at a glance what makes you different.
You’ll also want to make sure that your experiences are geared around actions. You want to make it clear that you actually achieved all the goals that were expected in your previous roles, not just what the responsibilities were. You might want to say ‘consistently achieved sales targets’ rather than ‘worked to sales targets’.
No speling misteakes
If spelling and grammar aren’t one of the strengths you’re listing on your resume, then get someone to run an eye over it and check for any errors. I do the same thing with these posts every week, although I bet this week is the one where I miss something!
One of my pet hates is reading a resume where someone has put ‘strong attention to detail’ as a strength, then has spelling errors all throughout. Don’t be that person.
Read the job description
If you’re applying for a lot of different jobs because you’re just starting out, it would be understandable to use a template for your cover letter and resume. Just make sure that it doesn’t sound like a template, and that you customise it for each job you apply for. For example, if the job description describes someone who is hard working, mention it in your resume and more importantly your cover letter. Talk about that particular quality or skill and how you used it in your last or current job.
A good way I’ve thought about this is how in school we get taught to use the words of a question in the answer. Use the key words you spot in job descriptions throughout your resume and cover letter, so they stick out to hiring managers.
It’s also important to take things out that aren’t relevant for a particular job. Talking about experience using Excel might be great if you’re wanting to be an accountant, but not so helpful if you’re applying to be a 3D artist. They’d be much more interested in the graphics design software you’re using.
These are just some basic tips to get you started. It’s always worth looking at what other people have done and online templates to help with ideas. And don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile so it matches what’s in your resume. More and more recruiters are looking at LinkedIn now. You can see our guide for improving your profile in our post ‘Level up at LinkedIn.’
The best resources for improving your resume are often the people around you. Show your resume to friends, especially the ones who have been or still are hiring managers. Comment below if you’d like to see the template that Tessa and myself both use as well as if you have any hot tips for other Career Queens.