Today’s job market is tough. Just ask the thousands of graduates competing for entry-level jobs and those seeking a career change. But companies are still looking for fresh talent and those who get hired are the ones who go the extra mile.
If you want to get noticed by employers and recruiters, you’ll need to give your resume an edge to ensure you stand out among thousands.
Start with the following tips.
1. 6-second pitch
A recent study shows that human resources managers spend just six seconds looking at a resume. Yup, six seconds!
So how do you grab a someone’s attention in six seconds? The modern resume ditches the objective statement and goes straight to a summary of your top qualifications.
This statement sums up the value you will bring to an organisation, unlike an objective statement which says what you want to do with your life.
In the qualifications summary, use a headline and give a synopsis, stating your experience, job history and career achievements.
For example: ‘Recent grad with BComm in auditing.’ Winner of Deloitte audit case competition in 2016. Excellent research, time management and problem-solving skills.
2. Edit, edit, edit
It’s tempting to list every single job you’ve had since you were 10. Don’t.
Learn to be discerning. Look at your resume critically. Highlight experiences which can contribute to the position you’re applying for.
For example, if you’re after a chambering position, listing your work as a florist’s assistant will just be jarring. You could, however, include your stint as an intern with a business paper where you gained experience interviewing corporate figures.
3. Show, not tell
Phrases like “team player”, “organisational skills”, “people person” are so last millennium. They are vague and don’t show what skills you possess and how you have applied them.
It’s time to get specific. Provide context to prove your achievements and quantify your experience.
Here are examples of some overused and outdated phrases:
• Team player Scrap that and talk about the last group project you did, how well you worked with other team members and the results you got.
• Excellent communication skills The phrase is meaningless if you don’t reply promptly to queries from the HR manager or your resume and cover letter are riddled with errors and typos. When someone contacts you about the job, be amicable and enthusiastic.
• Hard worker Did you take on extra responsibilities in your previous job? Did you apply for internships in your second year at university? If yes, show these achievements.
• Responsible Highlight how you became a team leader at your part-time barista job. Show your ability to take on responsibility and excelling at it.
4. One size does not fit all
Tailor your resume for each job you’re applying to and do your homework. Learn to read between the lines in a job ad and see what an employer is looking for. Find out about the company, its culture and get in touch with an insider (hint: not the HR manager).
For instance, if you’re applying for an advertising executive position, think about what your future boss is looking for.
Someone creative? Yes. Someone hardworking? Definitely. Someone who will blend in with the team? Duh! Someone who will take campaigns to the next level?
Once you’ve analysed the job scope, tweak your resume to address all those needs, giving solid examples.
In the case of this ad exec post, you could use an opening gambit:
“When you hire me, you’re not only getting someone who is eager to work with the current creative team, but also someone who will strive hard to address the needs of our clients, making campaign pitches so on point that the client has no choice but to sign us on.”
In just one paragraph, you’ve given them something specific to chew on, made a great impression, and told them how you will solve their problem!
5. Think prime real estate
No hiring manager will wade through a five-page resume, what more for a recent grad. Ideally, your resume should not go beyond two pages.
Learn to save space. Use bullet points and active verbs e.g. “launched”, “created” and check that the keywords are there.
Leave out “references available upon request”; “computer literate”; hobbies and personal information, such as date of birth or marital status.