Make your resume stand out

by Elizabeth Harmon
Posted: May 17, 2019

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Writing your resume may appear to be easy, but you can’t just throw something together in half an hour and expect to secure yourself that dream job. Your resume needs to be carefully thought out, with engaging content and a professional layout. This will help to properly market yourself as a candidate that the Hiring Manager absolutely wants on their interview schedule.

This article will help you to understand the layout you should follow and what content you should include, to help your resume pop and stand out from other candidates’ who are competing for the sale role.

Your resume layout

The most commonly used resume layout is chronological order. Employers like this, as the information is easy to follow. Your education and work experience should appear in reverse chronological order though, so the most recent and therefore relevant information appears first.

The headings for your content should be in the following order:

  1. Your name
  2. Contact information
  3. A brief personal statement
  4. Work experience
  5. Education
  6. Hobbies and interests

Now you’re clear on the format of your CV and the key headings, you need to think about how you are going to present your resume. It’s your opportunity to make a positive first impression, so you want it to stand out, but also look professional. Don’t overload your CV with too much text, otherwise, your CV may be rejected before it has even been read. Don’t forget that a Hiring Manager may have 100’s of resumes to review, so it’s not realistic to expect them to read every word. Consider using bullet points to make your resume more digestible and easier for them to skim read and pick up on key points more easily.

If you would like to learn more about the layout of your CV, view our guide on resume layout and format here.

Your resume content

Your resume is a marketing document and its purpose is to sell yourself. You should be ensuring that your resume is showing you:

  • Are employable
  • Have the right qualifications and skills
  • Have the correct level of professionalism for the job

The recommended length of a resume is a maximum of 2 pages. When writing your content, it’s important to keep it brief and to be selective – only include the information that provides the best sales pitch for you. To help, here are some of the things you should consider including in each section of your CV:

Contact information

  • You do not need to include your gender, DOB, full address (suburb and postcode will be enough), marital status, religion or nationality, as employers are legally not allowed to ask you for this in the hiring process.
  • Check that your email address is professional - something you set up on Hotmail in the 00s may not be the best one to use when job seeking!
  • Do not use your current employer's email address or telephone number.

A brief personal statement

  • Avoid the clichés and the buzzwords you think every employer wants to see.
  • This is a personal statement that should be used to sum you up as a person and should not include your objectives. The employer knows that you want to find a job, so you do not need to state that here. However, you could detail why you want this particular job, in your cover letter.
  • Spend time honing your personal statement so that it is a concise sales pitch of you as an employee and a person.

For our top 5 tips on how to write a personal statement, see our guide here.

Work experience

  • Start with the most recent work experience first and provide more detail with regards to the role and responsibilities. Job title, company and duration of employment will suffice for all other employment history.
  • Use power words when describing your most recent role such as “initiated”, “implemented”, “managed”, “increased”, “launched”, “advised”, “demonstrated”, “influenced”, “increased”, etc.
  • Move beyond just listing the duties you carried out - really show what impact you made. Stop and think about the goals you had in your previous role, what you did to achieve these and what benefit they had for the company.
  • Using testimonials to help back up a statement made about work you have completed is an excellent tool in helping to sell yourself. Ask colleagues if they would be prepared to write a testimonial. Save it on a cloud sharing platform, which you can then include as a hyperlink.
  • Using hyperlinks in a CV shows initiative and it can be used to help you showcase work completed that will demonstrate your expertise. Make sure you only share work that does not breach confidentiality for your current employer though.

Education

  • Start with the highest level of education first and work backwards.  Offer more detail for the most recent qualification obtained and keep the rest brief.

Hobbies and Interests

  • Use this section with caution! Your prospective employer does not need to know you enjoy a Netflix box set binge, so think carefully about what makes you look like a rounded individual that the Hiring Manager will want as part of their team. For example, have you done any volunteer work? Do you write a regular blog that relates to your industry of work? Or do you have a hobby that is unique and that would help you stand out from the crowd?

And finally...

  • Check spellings and grammar. As an extra precaution, you could ask a friend or family member to read over your CV, as they may pick up on something you’ve missed.
  • Look for unexplained absences in your work history - do the dates all match up (and are they the same as what appears on your LinkedIn profile for example)?
  • Check your formatting to ensure everything is readable and consistent.
  • Ensure the font you have chosen is professional and can be accessed on all computers.
  • Make sure your CV is saved in the format the Hiring Manager has asked for. If they have not specified the file format, a pdf is often the easiest and most professional format to use.

Once you have your final version of your resume, remember you now need to personalise this for each role you apply for. Tailoring your resume is key to making your CV stand out from the rest, so adapt the examples used in your work experience to suit the requirements of the job role you want to secure. Tweak your personal statement if needed and use different testimonials to further sell yourself.

Following the above advice and taking your time will ensure you have a professional, eye-catching resume that a Hiring Manager wants to read rather than churning something out that will receive 10 seconds of viewing time before ending up in the bin.

For even more expert help and advice on how to write a resume, visit Open College’s resume guide which includes a resume template, dos and don’ts to follow, advice on writing a cover letter, plus much more…

 

Elizabeth Harmon

Elizabeth Harmon

Elizabeth Harmon is an experienced Freelance Social Media Consultant based in the south of England. She works with a growing number of clients all around the world, showing businesses how to use social media more effectively and helping them to get the maximum benefit from it.

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