January 14, 2013

As a recruiter, business owner and hiring manager I have a lot to do with resumes. It is not an exaggeration when I say that I can receive up to 100 in a day with many hours spent trawling through them and sorting out the wheat from the chaff so to speak. And I’m not alone, with many companies having the same response when they simply list a vacancy online or in the paper. So in an incredibly competitive job market and with the resume being the single most important screening tool used to determine whether you are short-listed or sent a rejection letter, you simply cannot afford to get it wrong.

There are dozens of reasons why we find ourselves seeking employment throughout our careers however what remains a constant is the fact that in most cases we will be asked to submit a resume to apply. Whether you consider drafting a resume an easy task or no easy feat, the following will provide you with some straightforward tips to ensure your resume works for you and not against you, stands out for all the right reasons and ultimately leads you to an opportunity to interview and win that desired job.

Less is more

Ideally you want to keep your resume between two and four pages in length. If you have had a fruitful career condensing this often proves most challenging however only include your most recent work history in detail and summarise the rest, ensuring that the information included is relevant to the position you are applying for. The best resumes are those that are compelling, clear, concise and consistent.

Plain over pretty

Use a standard font throughout and refrain from using graphics, images and all the colours and props that make your resume appear distractingly pretty. The use of bold or underlining to highlight sections and mere bullet points to list position duties is all the beautification a resume requires. And whilst on the subject of beauty there is absolutely no reason to include a photograph of yourself on your resume even if you do consider yourself as aesthetically blessed as Miranda Kerr.

The reader is only interested in the written content; nothing more and nothing less.

How old is she?

In an ideal world, discrimination in the workplace wouldn’t exist but unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world and it does. Most employers are aware of their responsibility to promote a fair and equal recruitment process but we continue to see cases of discrimination splashed over the media. Discrimination is usually seen across age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion so my advice is to remove all details on your resume that may allude to these areas. If the information is not there, one cannot be discriminated against – simple! Furthermore, this information has no impact on one’s ability to carry out a specific job so is of little value.

Fill in the gaps

Employers are looking for a consistent work history so if you have any unexplained gaps between positions held this may be viewed as a “red flag” to the reader. Many of us have spent some time out of the workforce and usually with good reason whether for travel, study or raising a family. Be honest and account for these gaps as this will assist the reader in building a more accurate and complete picture of you and your experiences eliminating any cause for concern.

Interests are not that interesting

Many still prefer to outline personal interests on their resume however these days such information holds little weight. For me personally, the fact that you enjoy working out, travelling, painting or going to the footy has no baring at all on how well you could perform in a particular role and that said, this information is usually overlooked in favour of education, training and work experience. Some argue that what you list here may provide an insight into the type of person you are and how you may fit with their business however I believe this is best gauged in person at interview.

No room for error

You might dismiss the suggestion to read over your final document for any grammatical or spelling errors as mere common sense however I frequently receive resumes that are poorly formatted and written and if I am to be honest, it grates on me more than you could imagine. Whilst it represents tardiness and lack of attention, one typo can prove costly to the candidate so use the spell-check or share your resume with a friend.

So in closing, when it comes to the resume there is no room for complacency or a lackluster approach. We need to affirm its’ importance and value the role it plays within the recruitment and selection process. We need to afford it the time and attention it deserves, put it up on a pedestal and give it a little love. Anything less would be selling yourself short and denying yourself of opportunities within an incredibly opportune market.


  • That’s a good tip with not including your age – it shouldn’t have any bearing on your ability to do the job!

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  • All good tips when it comes to a good resume!

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  • I love my resume, it’s well done, I’m proud of it. It’s the job application process that’s worrying, addressing the selection criteria does my head in

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  • Great! Its very good to know! Thanks for sharing this article!

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  • I feel nervous whenever I have to dust the resume off & freshen it up….is it relevant? is it as good as the last one? should I exaggerate lol

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  • Interests have now been deleted.

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  • thank you, I need to take anotehr look at my resume

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  • Great information that someone writing a resume would be very interested in reading!

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  • I understand businesses and recruitment agencies can receive an avalanche of resumes and need apply some sort of quick churn and burn to weed out the wheat from the chaff as you stated, however I always wonder how many employers miss out on the perfect person for the job just because their resume didn’t contain the correct buzz words, was too long or too short.

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  • Thanks for this – actually preparing a resume at the moment

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  • a good resume can get you in the door

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  • great information. thanks for sharing

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  • thank you sharing this article good read

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  • thanks for sharing was a great read

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  • Thank you for this advice. I am traveling down this road and need all the grooming to build my confidence again.

    Reply

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