When it comes to the perfect resume, nearly everyone has an opinion. Just do a quick search on Google and you’ll find thousands of articles outlining how to write the perfect CV. So why are we rehashing this topic yet again? Well, almost everyone would agree that a great resume plays a big part in landing great career opportunities. But in many ways that seems to be the only thing agreed upon when it comes to crafting this oh-so-important document. Take into account the following two statements as an example:
Two-page resumes (are more likely to) land job interviews for college students
If you have seven or fewer years of work experience, then your resume should be one page
This is just the tip of the iceberg. It seems that beauty in resumes is often in the eye of the beholder. We can’t agree on everything all the time; there are personal, cultural and industry specific differences that can change this debate from black and white to various shades of grey. But I am not discounting any of that. So what can you do? Well, I have turned up universal truths that will objectively make your resume stand out in the right ways.
1. Grab attention immediately
It is well known that recruiters and hiring managers are a busy bunch. A single job posting can flood an inbox with hundreds of resumes. In fact, studies show that most resumes are screened in or out on the first review within 6-10 seconds. So, your resume needs to be structured in a way that immediately demonstrates your skills, experience and how they relate to the job at hand. The section at the top of your resume must be eye-catching, succinct and powerful.
2. Make it digestible
In the era of 140 characters and information overload, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If your resume is difficult to read or understand, it may not get any attention at all. When in doubt – keep it simple. That goes for formatting (you can have an expertly designed resume that’s clean and clear) and content. If you can, use clear language versus industry or company jargon. Use bullets instead of paragraphs – it’s easier to read and quick to the point. White space is your friend and easy on the eyes. Meaningful accomplishments aren’t meaningful if nobody reads them, so be mindful of design and cut out any content that doesn’t need to be there.
3. Like grade school, spelling counts
As mentioned in the opening, almost all aspects of what makes a good resume are debatable. Some will say you shouldn’t list hobbies or interests that you pursue outside of work. Some say you should. (I’m in the camp that says you should, but I digress). I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s greatest speller, but no hiring manager has ever come to me and complained about a lack of spelling mistakes on a resume. This tip is simple – use spell check, proofread your resume, get a friend to read it, and DO NOT submit it with mistakes. It’s an easy-to-avoid pitfall that can sink you in your job hunt regardless of your great skillset and experience.
David Aplin Group is a private family and employee owned Canadian staffing agency founded in Alberta in 1975, recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished recruiting firms. Our mission is to positively impact lives. Blog author, Nick Misener, is an IT Recruiter based in Halifax.