According to glassdoor.co.uk, your resume has approximately 7 seconds to grab a recruiter’s attention before they move on. That short period is the difference between you securing an interview for your dream job or moving to the bottom of the pile. *stress level rising*
Fortunately, there are tested ways to make sure that your resume stands out from the pack, and secures you that all-important interview. So let’s dive into a few practical ways you can reduce rejection rates and achieve resume success.
Wax on Wax off Back To Basics
During my recruitment days, I delivered my fair share of employability training workshops for job seekers. And whether you had oodles of previous job experience or none at all, I started right at the beginning in these sessions. Although this was likely frustrating for some, there was a method behind the madness.
If you can’t get the basics right, your resume will be ignored at best and trashed at worst.
As someone who has shortlisted many applicants, I can tell you this from experience. You could get lucky, and have any poor spelling or formatting overlooked due to a lack of applicants combined with tight vacancy deadlines. But this is highly unlikely; instead, you will probably go to the back of the pile, and your name remembered (for the wrong reasons) in any future application attempts.
What To Include
Your resume should include your full name, professional title (if applicable), and contact details. Please don’t forget the latter, imagine crafting an epic CV only to forget to include any means for a recruiter to contact you. They may track you down via LinkedIn, but once again, this all depends on their time constraints.
You should also include a personal profile. It doesn’t have to be ‘War and Peace’ in terms of length, keep it concise, engaging, and to the point. Let your prospective employer know who you are, how you can benefit the company, and your career goal(s). Remember to make this specific to every job application. Seriously, this minor adjustment will earn you bonus points.
Remember to include your experience/employment history. Here you can list your previous roles and other experience, with your current or most recent employment first, and work your way back. List your job title, employer, employment dates, and a short overview of your role, and achievements for each.
Include relevant facts and figures when possible to evidence specific achievements. Follow this up with your education and qualifications, also with the most recent listed first.
HURRAH More Resume Bonus Points
Want to score more bonus points with recruiters? OF COURSE, you do! If you have super relevant skills specific to the role, include a key skills section underneath your personal profile. Choose up to five. If you don’t have a lot of work experience, or you want to show a prospective employer your human side, consider a hobbies and interests section at the end of your resume.
Don’t scrimp on spelling, grammar, and formatting! Use the free Grammarly plan to check basic spelling and grammar, and have a family member, loved one or friend proofread your resume to check for the above and tone.
In terms of formatting, let’s sit under the learning tree of the blogger — break the text into relevant headings/subheadings, and write clear and concise sentences and paragraphs for that readability factor.
Make It Visually Appealing
For job seekers in the creative industries, it’s standard practice to design an eye-catching resume. And in this instance, eye-catching doesn’t just mean an exciting read.
We’re talking aesthetically pleasing bells and whistles that help your future boss understand how undeniably impressive you are, without providing needless distractions. I discovered some great online resources for free and premium fancy fonts which will make your resume stand out from the crowds.
While this approach might come more naturally to the hobbyist or pro designers and creatives, it shouldn’t stop other job seekers exploring this route. There are a few ways to go about this. The first is to consider hiring a designer, or you could take the DIY approach, which is surprisingly easy and cost-effective.
Doing It Yourself
Recently I was perusing mockups for freelancers (because I’m one of those creative critters mentioned above) and ended up on an unplanned side quest that is very relevant here. Ah, don’t you love serendipity? I took a chance and typed ‘resume’ into the search bar, and found a selection of professional CV design templates.
At the time of writing, the CV templates have customizable features included text, images, and colour. A bargain for AUD 5.44! Sticking with the DIY route, you might also consider trying the graphic design platform, Canva. The free plan has a variety of resume templates included.
Whatever your approach, a visually appealing CV infused with some creative flair is sure to be an attention-grabbing surprise for recruiters and HR departments.
Beyond the Bells and Whistles
So you’ve successfully grabbed the recruiter’s attention, now it’s time to retain their interest. What’s better than fancy bells and whistles? Fancy bells, whistles, relevance and substance. Ah, music to the ears of my inner recruiter. Even the best visual aids are redundant without meaningful information.
When I’m pitching for writing gigs, relevance is my top priority, and through this approach, I’ve gained an impressive success ratio. If you take nothing else away from this article remember this — make every section of your resume relevant to each specific job application. The relevance factor goes for any additional requirements like applications or a cover letter.
Please read, and then re-read any job requirements included within the advert, and think of them as a checklist. Check them off meaningfully and naturally within your CV by evidencing examples of how you have met those requirements in the past.
And finally, be honest about your experience levels. Don’t lie on your resume, this will get exposed at interview, or worse, while you’re on the job. Talk about losing credibility in your first week. If you’re honest, likeable, and show promise recruiters can forgive reduced experience in some cases — lies not so much.
About the Author!
Rachael Hope is a writer, digital marketer, and artist on a mission to help other creative bloggers, freelancers, and businesses prosper in the digital world. Before founding Rachael Hope Media, she gained experience in recruitment. When not clattering keys, she is likely practising yoga, painting, watching wrestling, or playing with her two cats Yuna and Binx.