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The internet is littered with articles long and short regarding the best way to write and maintain your resume. Our team review tens of thousands of resumes every year – we’ve put our heads together to come up with some simple, easy to follow points to keep in mind you need to develop, review, overhaul or refine your resume.

1. Know your target market

We write CVs for them to be read by someone. That someone, and HOW they read, matters. All resume readers are time poor (just ask them) however they are also all slightly different. If it’s a recruiter – this reader will be skimming your CV very quickly so use bold text OR • Bullet points to succinctly identify what you want them to remember. They can’t remember what they’ve never read – so if a data point really, really matters – get it front and centre at the top of your cover letter or at the very start of your resume.

If it is an internal HR representative at a large corporate – make sure you tick the boxes they’ve asked for as large departmental functions are predominantly process driven. Remember to use clear, concise, formal language.
If it is a smaller business – don’t be afraid to let your personality come through and to use softer, less formal language; smaller businesses are more accommodating to candidates who come across as more than just a list of positions and qualifications.

2. Tailoring works

You’re more likely to have a higher hit rate for shortlisting when you tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. Read the job ad and your resume side-by-side BEFORE you submit it. Are you highlighting the elements of your career that align with what matters to this particular employer? Your application needs to fit the job you are applying for – the better the fit, the better your chances. Bulk applications with a boiler plate resume will see you experience first-hand the law of diminishing returns.

3. Tick the boxes

Don’t have your work thrown in the bin because you failed to do something simple – like complete a mandatory pre-requisite questionnaire, confirm your residency or attach copies of your VOC’s. Review the job ad (and the application process) and make a detailed list of everything you need to ensure your application includes. Cross referencing pre-requisites is the easiest way for any organisation to whittle down an application list; don’t let an otherwise good application get caught out for want of a simple oversight.

4. Don’t drown yourself in words

Your resume is your sales pitch. Don’t let your key sales points get lost in volumes of text – not every CV needs to or should be kept to under 2 or 3 pages, however every resume should be succinct. The more words you use, the more chance your key selling points get lost.

5. Pick the three items you want the reader to remember and make them count

Anyone, anywhere, who has ever worked in HR or recruiting will tell you that your resume/application will boil down to a few key points when stacked against other applicants. You can control what these points are likely to be with how you frame your resume. Give some thought to what your strongest selling points are likely to be for the job you are applying for and ensure that these are clearly the focus.

There are a multitude of ways to funnel your resume into the key selling points, but typically the easiest are;

  • Use bullet points or numbers in your cover letter, or in your individual profile at the start of your resume. Hit your messages hard in these areas.
  • Don’t be afraid to re-sequence, or restructure, your resume to fit the points you want to get across. If qualifications are what you think will matter – get them up front. If your last job makes you perfect – make this the centrepiece of your resume. Resumes come in all shape and sizes, success comes from formula, not format
  • Have someone check your resume before you submit it – ask them what the three key things that stood out to them were and check them against your list of the three things you want your resume to communicate. If they don’t match up – ask yourself why and try again.

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