Recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a CV before they make the initial decision on candidates, according to research conducted by TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals.
That means you have to win them over fast.
Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders, created an example of an excellent resume to show what works.
While resumes should be tailored to the industry you're in, the one below offers a helpful guide for entry- and mid-level professionals with three to five years of relevant work experience.
What makes this resume so great?
1. It includes a URL to the jobseeker's professional online profile.
If you don't include URLs to your professional online profiles, hiring managers will look you up regardless. Augustine tells Business Insider that 86 per cent of recruiters admit to reviewing candidates' online profiles, so why not include your URL along with your contact information? This will prevent recruiters from having to guess or mistaking you for someone else.
2. It uses consistent branding.
"If you have a common name, consider including your middle initial on your resume and online professional profiles to differentiate yourself from the competition," says Augustine. For example, decide if you're Mike Johnson, Michael Johnson, or Mike E. Johnson. Then use this name consistently, be it on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.
3. It includes a single phone number and email address.
"Choose one phone number for your resume where you control the voicemail message and who picks up the phone," she advises. The same rule applies to an email address.
4. It does not include an objective statement.
There's no point in including a generic objective about a "professional looking for opportunities that will allow me to leverage my skills," says Augustine. It's not helpful and distracting. Ditch it.
5. Instead, it includes an executive summary.
Replace your fluffy statement with an executive summary, which should be like a "30-second elevator pitch" where you explain who you are and what you're looking for. "In approximately three to five sentences, explain what you're great at, most interested in, and how you can provide value to a prospective employer," Augustine says.
6. It uses reverse chronological order.
This is the most helpful for recruiters because they're able to see what you've been doing in recent years immediately, says Augustine. "The only time you shouldn't do this is if you're trying to transition to another career altogether, but then again, in this situation, you'll probably be relying more on networks," than your resume, she says.
7. It uses keywords like "forecasting" and "strategic planning."
Many companies use some kind of screening process to identify the right candidates. You should include the keywords mentioned in the job posting throughout your resume.
"Identify the common keywords, terminology, and key phrases that routinely pop up in the job descriptions of your target role and incorporate them into your resume (assuming you have those skills)," advises Augustine. "This will help you make it past the initial screenings and on to the recruiter or hiring manager."
8. It provides company descriptions.
It's helpful for recruiters to know the size of the company you used to work for, advises Augustine.
"Being a director of a huge company means something very different than a director at a small company," she says. You can go to the company's "About Us" section and rewrite one or two lines of the description. This should be included right underneath the name of the company.
9. It does not list achievements in dense blocks of text.
Recruiters receive so many resumes to scan through at a time, so make it as easy as possible for them to understand why you're perfect for the job. Dense blocks of text are too difficult to read, says Augustine.
10. Instead, achievements are listed in three bullet points per job.
Under each job or experience you've had, explain how you contributed to or supported your team's projects and initiatives.
"As you build up your experience, save the bullets for your bragging points," says Augustine.
11. It quantifies achievements.
"Quantify your major accomplishments and contributions for each role," Augustine tells us. This can include the money you saved or brought in for your employer, deals closed, and projects delivered on time or under budget. Do not use any more than three to five bullet points.
12. Accomplishments are formatted as result-and-then-cause.
A good rule is to use the "result BY action" sentence structure whenever possible. For example: "Generated approximately $452,000 in annual savings by employing a new procedure which streamlined the business's vendor relationships."
13. White space draws the reader's eyes to important points.
Recruiters do not spend a lot of time scanning resumes, so avoid dense blocks of text. "The key is to format the information in a way that makes it easy to scan and recognise your job goals and relevant qualifications," Augustine tells us.
14. It doesn't use crazy fonts or colours.
"Stick to black and white colour," says Augustine. As for font, it's best to stick with the basics, such as Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri.
15. It does not include pronouns.
Augustine says you should never write your resume in third person because everyone knows you're the one writing it (unless you go through a professional resume writing service).
Instead, you should write it in first person, and do not include pronouns. "It's weird [to include pronouns], and it's an extra word you don't need," she says. "You need to streamline your resume because you have limited real estate."
16. It does not include images.
"Avoid adding any embedded tables, pictures, or other images in your resume, as this can confuse the applicant-tracking software and jumble your resume in the system," says Augustine.
17. It doesn't use headers or footers.
It may look neat and concise to display your contact information in the header, but for "the same reason with embedded tables and charts, it often gets scrambled in an applicant tracking system," says Augustine.
18. Education is listed at the bottom.
Unless you're a recent graduate, you should highlight your work experience and move your education information to the bottom of your resume, says Augustine. Never include anything about your high-school years.
19. It doesn't say "references upon request."
Every recruiter knows you're going to provide references if they request it so there's no reason for you to include this line. Again, remember that space on your resume is crucial so don't waste it on a meaningless line, Augustine tells us.
- Australian Business Insider
Making sure your CV/resume is up-to-date and up to scratch could give you the edge when securing that first step on the ladder or snaring that bar job in Barcelona – you never know when it will come in handy!
A CV (curriculum vitae – old Latin term = course of my life) is really a marketing document with the one main job - helping you get an interview with an employer. What you want it to do is to show you as being one of the best candidates for the job, so it’s important to put a bit of extra effort into your CV to help it to stand out from the rest.
There are a range of templates (see below) to help you write your CV, but if you can, try to tailor this to make it stand out from other CVs using a similar template.
If an employer has received a big number of applications for a job, their first look through the pile is likely to be quick. Your CV might only get looked at for 10-30 seconds before heading into the "definitely interview", "maybe interview", and "no" piles. Your CV should be easy to scan quickly for key information, as well as standing up to a deeper look if you make it into the "maybe” or “definitely” piles.
A good CV will help you make it to the interview stage where you have the opportunity to sell your skills and abilities to an employer in person.
Here are some pointers to preparing your great CV
Gather your information for your CV
- Make a list of your skills, and write down examples of how and when you used these skills. Teamwork is a skill, so is leadership. Think laterally about what you can do and like to do, and note what skills these things involve.
- Check out what skills you may actually have and skills that employers are looking for with Careers New Zealand and look at their useful Skill Matcher tool.
- Significant achievements are an important way to help paint a more complete picture of you as a potential employee. Think about your achievements from all areas of your life – school, sporting, within the community etc.
- Make sure you have copies of any awards and certificates you have received.
- Decide who will be your referees. A referee could be an employer, teacher or coach. They need to be able to give a verbal reference about your skills and character.
Writing your CV
- A CV should be short - two to three pages at most.
- Write about your school and if you have done part-time or summer jobs, your work experience. Your secondary schooling helps to paint a picture of your abilities, especially if you have limited work experience. Include any outstanding achievements and also involvement in activities that reflect specific skills such as leadership. Limit details to years 11, 12 and 13. this is often more valued than qualifications.
- CVs can be skill based or work based. Chances are yours will be more skill based if you do not have a work history. Careers New Zealand have some useful information on the differences between these, and some templates and examples to help you understand what type may be best for you.
- Many CV templates include a Personal Statement. This tells a potential employer a little about you, but if you are including one, keep it tight and don’t waffle on. State where you are at in your studies and what attracted you to the position. You can include a Personal Statement or not.
- Components of a CV – what you should include
- Careers New Zealand CV templates and examples
- When you're done, have someone check over your CV.
Writing cover letters
A cover letter is usually no more than a one-page letter or short email that accompanies your resume when you apply for a job. It tells the reader a bit about you and why you want to apply for the particular position. It is the first point of contact with a prospective employer, and if it is awful, chances are that’s all that is going to be read.
A well-written cover letter can really boost your chances of landing an interview. You should always include a cover letter or an e-mail that mentions the advertisement (or how you learned about the job, eg their website) and the stated requirements of the job.
A cover letter or e-mail is a formal document and is your opportunity to demonstrate your written skills. Where possible address it to a person, but if one is not listed, use ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, not ‘Hi there’. You could phone the company and find out who is the correct person to address it to.
There should be no spelling or grammatical mistakes and it should not be longer than one page. Some employers won't read any further than your covering letter if it is too generic.
Here’s more on how to write a covering letter
- CVs or resumes are formatted with headers and bullet points, but write your cover letter in the first person (e.g. “I have 3 years of leadership experience in sports teams”).
- Start with a brief introduction about yourself and state the purpose for writing. Mention the job you’re applying for and your interest in it.
- Give a snapshot of relevant skills, qualifications and experience that relate to the job description – basically, a few lines summarising the content of your resume.
- If you’ve claimed you have a particular skill, give brief examples of these.
- Do some research on the companies you apply to so that you understand what business they are in and what role they play. This way you can be confident and articulate about them in your application.
- State that your resume is attached, and then finish with a call-to-action, such as requesting an interview or asking to meet, before signing off cordially.
- Use clear direct language, avoiding overly long sentences or fancy words.
- Tailor the letter to the job and company, and make it clear that it hasn’t been recycled.
- Keep it under 250 words and make sure it fits onto one page.
View this presentation on how to write the best covering letter