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How to make a resume’ stand-out

Guess how long the average recruiter takes to look at a resume? 9 SECONDS. We put in soooo much effort at they look at it for 9 seconds? Geez! This means that they are always looking for a reason to put a resume in the “no” pile.

However, let’s remember this is an average. It’s fair to assume that if your resume can make a good impression within the first few seconds, yours will be one that gets a more thorough going over. How do you make that happen? How do you give your resume that ‘wow’ factor? Here’s how…

1. Get into the head of the employer

Your potential boss needs to see the benefit of you working for them. They need to see you have what they need – skills, qualities, abilities – and that you work hard and add value to the organisation. So imagine you are recruiting for your job, and ask yourself: “What would I like to see to know this person could do the job well?”

The answer is a small number of really exciting benefits and results, backed up by examples that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

2. Get specific

Think about the impact you have in your current job. Did you increase income? Save the company money? Create an innovative procedure or product? Increase social media presence? Build a team? Increase reputation? Provide exceptional support or mentoring to others? What did you do really well? Make a list of all of these accomplishments.

3. Find your USP

Staying in the head of your prospective employer, ask yourself: “What are my unique selling points in relation to this job?” This can be specific skills, experience, interests, qualifications or passions. Job hunting is competitive. That means that for every application you submit, you could be up against numerous other candidates who have a similar skill set. Luckily, your USP can set you apart. Whether it’s that you have your own blog, you’ve taken part in extracurricular activities or volunteer work, or you use social media to network with others in your field, it’ll all help you to stand out from the crowd. Of course, these things should be relevant to the job – and should emphasise your ability to carry out the role effectively.


4. Show your industry knowledge

Candidates who have a blog dedicated to their field of expertise should draw attention to their commercial awareness and extensive knowledge on their subject area – alongside any other impressive achievements (e.g. having your work published and displayed at an event). You should also include links to portfolios, blogs, or anything else that not only demonstrates your skills, but also makes you unique.

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5. Start strong

Now that you’ve got all this info, it’s time to craft the first and most important paragraph of your whole resume. You want some powerful bullet points that demonstrate your USP and achievements that made an impact in a company – don’t forget to explain what it was like before, so your potential boss can understand the changes you affected. For example: “Developed a social media campaign that increased Twitter followers from 500 to 1500 in three months using targeted themes such as …” Make sure your USP is clear and include a summary of your skills and key accomplishments. This will attract the recruiter and grab their attention from the outset. This personal profile is an important part of your CV and tells the recruiter exactly who you are, so you want to make the right impression.

If you are sending your CV to a large corporate or recruiter it is highly likely they will use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen the document. Once submitted, your resume’ will land in a database where the hiring manager can search for you by name, or by the relevant skills in your resume’. This is why it is prudent to list your key skills at the beginning of your resume’, as well as throughout in your work history. To ensure you beat the ATS you can upload your CV to ValueMyCV and the tool will give you a score out of 100%. ValueMyCV uses the same technology as applicant tracking systems.

6. Add some frills

While the wow factor is not about curly fonts, colour or a wacky layout, it is about being different to all the other candidates out there. You can do this by showing some extras that tell your prospective employer more about you (remember it has to be relevant to the role).

  • Show you can spot trends and have opinions in your area of expertise – if you’ve written a blog, had something published or spoken at an event, relevant to your work life, include a link on your CV so they can check it out.
  • Demonstrate you are connected – show you attend networking events in your field, have relevant connections on LinkedIn and participate in online group discussions.
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile where they can see recommendations, your group activity, any blog posts you’ve made, etc.
  • If you have a portfolio of work either on Tumblr or your own webpage then include a link so they can view your creative work easily.
  • An awareness of the industry you are applying for will show the recruiter that you have the ability to stay on top of trends. You will be a lot more attractive to employers if you are able to demonstrate knowledge of the industry, so make sure you are up to date with any news and industry changes. This will also help you if you reach the interview stage.

7. Emphasise results

Instead of just listing your past responsibilities, make your CV stand out by emphasizing your results, using quantifiable data to show your accomplishments. So for example, instead of saying “I helped to increase social media engagement for Company X”, write “I increased social media engagement by 38% for Company X”. For example, saying you ‘worked on social media’ doesn’t really tell the employer much. But saying ‘increased social media engagement by 20% through the implementation of a new strategy’ is a much better way of quantifying your abilities.

8. Customise for the job you want

Respond directly to the job description and explain exactly why you are the candidate for the role. You can do this by relating your accomplishments to the elements of the job role. Employers want candidates to understand the role they are applying for, and the more you can demonstrate this, the more your CV will stand out. It might take longer for you to write your CV, especially when applying for a large number of roles, but it if it helps you to find your perfect position then it is time well spent! Your CV is not a ‘one size fits all’ document. This means that sending the same one every time won’t be doing you any favours when it comes to impressing an employer.

9. Be clear and structured

There is no way recruiters are going to read all the CVs in detail. They begin by ‘scanning’ the CVs received by reading them diagonally. Only those that catch their attention upon first reading will be examined more closely. Choose an attractive layout by structuring your ideas. For this purpose, use paragraphs and clear titles. A CV is a professional document. Don’t try to make it stand out by using an eccentric font or colours. Keep it simple, clear and to the point. Your CV isn’t a novel. Avoid telling the story of your life. With recruiters spending just nine seconds reading each CV – yours needs to be concise and colourful to catch their attention.

The applicant tracking systems used by large companies and recruiters will struggle to read and sort a poorly structured CV. Use ValueMyCV before submitting your CV for a job to make sure it will pass the applicant tracking system.

If you take all of these tips on board your CV will be absolutely rocking. Pair it with the perfect, tailored cover letter and you know you’ve done everything you can to get the job of your dreams. Happy hunting.

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