The first stage that you need to pass when applying for a job is the CV / resume screening process. Unfortunately, it is also happened to be one of the most challenging stages, especially if you’re applying for a competitive role in a popular company. A sales or marketing role opening in a Fortune 500 company, for instance, can draw hundreds if not thousands of applicants in just a matter of days. That’s a lot of resumes to look at, let alone reading them! As a matter of fact, according to a recent study by TheLadders, top job recruiters spend not more than 6 seconds looking at your Resume. A bit brutal isn’t it? Even the X-Factor judges would give the candidates a lot more time to impress them!
Now that you know the ugly truth, the next question is how you can impress your prospective employers in just seconds? Although there are lot of resume tips that you can find out there on the Internet, I found most of them to be too vague and don’t really offer any significant values to make your Resume stands out. Therefore, from conducting a little bit of research and looking back at my own experience in job hunting & hiring, I came up with these resume tips that are proven to help you seize a job interview. In addition to that, I’ve also attached a creative looking resume template that will definitely get job recruiters to gaze at it for more than 6 seconds! I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions or want to share your own tips with us, simply submit a comment down below!
1. Put work experience as the centre piece of your resume
This is the very first thing that the job recruiters will look for and many studies suggest that you should put your work experience along with the accomplishments at the top of your resume for better impact. This section can then be followed with “Education Summary” and “Professional/Technical Skills”. Some people tend to overwhelm the top part of their resume with personal information such as: address, email, phone number, mobile number, website address, social media links, full-width photo, even height/weight! Whilst it’s important to put this information on your resume, it is far more important to first give the employer a good reason to be interested in looking for your personal information.
If you’re handy in using softwares like Adobe Illustrator / Photoshop, Apple’s Pages, or even Microsoft Word, you can play around with the look and layout of your resume even more. For instance, you can try using a two column layout to separate your personal information from your career summary, and use different colour/font variation to highlight the key points. This will make it easier for recruiters to skim through your resume. Also, if the application does not require you to submit a Resume in a word document (e.g. .doc, .docx) or any printed form, I highly recommend using a .pdf format – it just looks cleaner, sharper, and more professional!
I’ve attached a professional / creative looking resume template (.psd) on this article. You can download it for free and edit the content using Adobe Photoshop. If you need it in a different format, please let me know on the comment section and I’ll try to make one for you. This template should be suitable for most job functions, but will work best for the creative sectors.
2. Keep it simple, keep it relevant – Less is More!
Is a five pages resume better than a one page resume? No, not always. In fact, it’s pretty much down to the very first page of your resume. If the first page of your resume is full of meaningless waffles (not the cake!), recruiters won’t even bothered to flip to the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th page of your resume. In other words, the first page of your resume is your only real chance to impress. Summarise your career history and key achievements on the first page, and try to lose all the jargons.If you can’t do it – then you’re doing it wrong. It’s that simple.
You may have worked in 10 – 20 different companies with 100s of awards, but try to relate to the job that you’re applying. Pick carefully only the ones that are most relevant to the job or company you’re applying to – don’t list down every single job you’ve had, especially irrelevant part-time work that you did for 1 month when you were in high school. This also means that you can’t rely on using a general resume for every job that you’re applying to. About 9 out of 10 times it will not work, especially if it’s a top global company as they most probably use an automated system to filter the candidates before manually screening them. Therefore, use the job description and requirements as your checklist.
3. Choose the right word to describe your experience
When listing down your previous work experience, you need to include at least the following: company name, period of time worked, role(s), and achievements. This section should be kept very concise. Clearly describe the company names, your roles and period of time worked starting from the most recent one. Putting down the years and months active in the company should be sufficient – exact days (full date) will be excessive. Try to use “action / success verbs” in describing your experience. For instance, use the word “increased, improved, grew, reduced, or successfully achieved” instead of the general “responsible for, dealing with, hired to be, etc.”. This may sound too picky, but trust me, it does make a difference. It gives a positive tone about your past experience and boost the employer’s confidence in you.
4. Personalised cover letter and portfolio
A solid job application generally consists of three main elements: the CV / resume, cover letter, and a portfolio. Sadly, most people just completely ignore the last two or just use a general cover letter from a template. Portfolio is not exclusive to jobs in the design or creative sector. With a little bit of imagination, you can massively boost your chance of getting an interview using a portfolio. Examples of stuff that you can put on your portfolios are including: publications, any form of marketing campaigns you involved in, non-confidential stats that shows your accomplishments, products/services that you launched or helped grow, and of course design works.
5. Include a professional digital resume
In this ever increasing digital world, having a professional online resume in a form of website, blog, or social media would be a big plus. It also shows that you put the extra efforts to convince your prospective employers. However, the real advantageous of having an online profile is to help yourself showcasing your work, skills, and creativity as an extension of the mundane traditional paper resume.
There are many websites out there that can help you build an online resume in just minutes with no programming or coding skills required. Some of my favourites are: LinkedIn (must have!), Visual CV, Vizualize.me, and Wix. They are all free and super easy to use. To learn more about creating an online resume, please view this article: “How to Build a Professional Online Resume“. Here’s an example of a simple online resume that I created for myself a while back, using a simple HTML5 framework. If you’re interested to have a similar online resume like mine, you can get in touch with me using the contact form on this website.