How to stand out and get your resume noticed

Jan 31, 2019

Having reviewed many resumes throughout my former recruitment career, I’ve come to understand what employers look for when deciding to interview. The truth is, your resume can make or break your chances of scoring that job interview, regardless of your experience.

Want to get your resume noticed and improve your chances of success? Here’s how…

Use Keywords

In the modern world of work, the job application process is now managed online and often automated. Recruitment software is specially designed to search online job application forms and uploaded resumes for specific keywords. Hiring companies use this technology as a way to filter out unsuitable candidates and shortlist the most appropriate applicants.

Make a note of the key words used in the job advertisement you’re applying to. Highlight any key skills, systems or words most relevant to your industry. Finally, ensure these key words are scattered throughout your resume, cover letter and job application documents.

Employers can receive a few hundred applications for one advertised vacancy, making it crucial your resume contains the right key words to increase your chances of being shortlisted for interview.

Professional Summary

If you decide to include a professional summary at the start of your resume, keep it brief and to the point. Limit it to one paragraph and a couple of sentences or use bullet points. Focus on highlighting your core skills and experience, rather than listing off personal qualities such as “highly motivated” or “hardworking”. You can also include the most relevant keywords here at the top of your CV.

Education

Include your education summary at the start of your resume. List your most recent qualification first, including where you studied, date of completion and any majors. Be sure to note any academic achievements that will set you apart, such as awards or graduating with honours.

Employment History

List your most recent position first, including your dates of employment, employer and position title. For each position, provide a short summary of your employer, industry and typical clients you work with. Briefly outline who you report to, any direct reports you have and summarise your main responsibilities but keep it concise.

If you were promoted, list your most recent position first and clearly note the date of your promotion to show how long you’ve been operating at that level. Graduates should list their graduate work rotations (business division and length of each rotation), with their current role or team listed first.

Employment Dates

Be sure to include the exact dates of your employment – month and year – for all positions.  Simply listing the years is not accurate enough. 2016 – 2017 could mean January 2016 – December 2017, or November 2016 – January 2017 and there is a big difference between a few months or years! Be accurate.

Using work examples

This is by far the most important section of your resume. Employers want to be able to quickly ascertain the depth of your experience and what you do in your role. It’s therefore crucial to include examples of specific tasks that you have worked on, described in detail. The bulk of your resume should be dedicated to this section.

Include a range of examples that demonstrate the breadth of your experience, including the typical types of tasks that you undertake or variety of clients that you work with. Use sub-headings for each area of your work and include at least 2-3 real life examples of projects or tasks that you worked on. Keep it to a couple of sentences and list each example in bullet point form.

Confidential information

For confidential examples, briefly outline the nature of the client and project in generic terms, being careful not to disclose any identifying information. If in doubt, don’t include it.

What do you do?

This is the key point from your resume that all employers are looking to understand. If you do this well, it can be the difference between securing an interview – or not.

When using examples, rather than simply providing a list of deals or projects that you have been involved with, take this one step further by clearly defining your personal role and responsibilities for that project.

Gaps on your resume

If you took some time out between roles to travel or have a short career break, make sure you address it. It’s always more professional to take ownership and give a brief (and reasonable) explanation, rather than leaving obvious gaps on your resume and hoping an employer doesn’t notice.

Contact Details

Make sure your contact information is easy to find and include your mobile number, email address and link to your professional LinkedIn profile. Provide a personal email address, not your work one and if you don’t have a professional sounding personal email address, set up a new gmail or hotmail address in your name. Also, leave off your residential address at this stage. That’s all that is needed for an employer to contact you regarding your job application.

Final tips

Avoid elaborate formatting, colour and graphics. Use a clear structure, traditional font style and text size that is simple and easy to read. A photo is unnecessary and shouldn’t be included on your resume. Limit it to your LinkedIn profile and if you are directing employers there by including a link in your resume, make sure your LinkedIn profile picture is professional.

Do check your spelling and grammar carefully and get a trusted friend to proof read your resume before sending it out. Also, make sure your contact information is up to date and accurate so employers have no issues getting in touch with you for an interview!

These are my top resume tips that have assisted many professionals that I’ve worked with over the past decade. I hope they help you too!

 

Are you seeking further support to change or develop your career? Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult and find out how coaching with me can help you!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.