by Millennial Staff
When you’re applying for a job, your resume is an essential tool. This is essentially a document created for the sole purpose of selling you, by using your personal history to show why you have a strong professional future. Without a good resume, it’s fair to assume that job interviews may be hard to find.
However, resumes are complicated documents. There is no “right” way to complete a resume; recruiters tend to look for different things, so you can’t be sure you’re appealing to everyone with what you choose to write. Some recruiters will prefer short, concise resumes; others will prefer long, detailed outlines– and there’s no way of knowing before you apply which version a particular recruiter will want.
Navigating the above maze can be tricky, but there are a few things you can do that will improve your resume for all recruiters. Let’s call it a polish; additions that can help your resume sparkle, and stand out to every recruiter, no matter what their preference. Some of these changes are big, others are small, but they have one thing in common: they’re effective.
So before you apply for your next job, it may be worth taking a moment and considering adding one or more of these to your resume…
#1 – A concise personal statement
Your personal statement is key to a good resume. It’s your chance to say why you’re great, outline what you have done in the past, and then expand on how you believe you can help a company in the future. Your personal statement is your pitch, and you’re hoping the recruiter will want to be intrigued enough to find out more.
However, many people make the critical mistake of turning their personal statement into an essay. It’s good to open your resume with a personal statement, but it is absolutely vital that this statement is concise. You have to zero on on the essential information, rather than rambling.
Here are a few tips to ensure your personal statement has the sparkle you have been needing:
- Write between 75 and 100 words. Any more than this is unnecessary.
- Don’t repeat information that can be found elsewhere on your resume. For example, don’t say “I have been working at X company for X number of years”– a recruiter can already find that information out by reading the rest of the document.
- Avoid cliche phrases in your personal statement; recruiters see them all the time, to the point they have lost all of their meaning. Write something that is in keeping with how you would talk about yourself.
Your personal statement should be clear, concise, and provide information that cannot be found anywhere else on your CV– so take your time and ensure you perfect it.
#2 – An aptitude for continued learning
There are many things that recruiters hope to see on applicants, and it’s important to include those– some of which we will discuss soon. However, it’s also important to avoid what recruiters don’t want to see. These are the signs that are a red flag to recruiters, and there’s one in particular you have to go to great lengths to avoid.
What recruiters don’t want to see is someone who has entered into their career and then done very little to improve themselves. Continual learning is the best way to demonstrate that you know you are not the finished product — because no one is! — but that you intend to keep improving yourself.
There are various things you can do to achieve this. If you’re already highly qualified, then you may want to consider vocational courses that can expand your knowledge in your chosen field. For example, if you work in coding, then you may want to consider learning a new programming language and receiving certification for it.
If you’re resumé is a little light on qualifications, then you have even more scope for polishing it up. If you have a Business BA, then you can take the next step and complete an online MBA, which is beneficial both for what you will learn and how it will look on your job applications. If you don’t have a degree, then this may be something you want to pursue, provided you choose a subject that is genuinely related to your career goals.
Showing that you have a continued appetite for knowledge and self-improvement will impress recruiters, and reassure them that you’re looking for a career rather than just another job. If all of your qualifications and experience are out of date on your resume, that tends to be a bad sign, so invest in improving this area– you should see a better response to your applications as a result.
#3 – Good formatting
It may sound strange, but good formatting on your resume is something that is important to recruiters. These are people who have to read through endless applications, some of which will be badly formatted and contain spelling errors– these are applications that will largely be dismissed without reading. If you can ensure that you have good formatting, then you stand out from the crowd and ensure your resume has a good chance of being read.
Here’s a few things to consider:
- Use lines to separate sections, as they help create distinction between each area of information, and this makes the entire document easier to read. If you don’t know how to insert lines into a document, then here’s a guide for Google Docs, and here’s one for Microsoft Word.
- Use a standard font rather than something more esoteric. Arial; Times New Roman; Verdana– anything other than these is going to make your resume harder to read. There’s a reason these fonts are standard, and it’s their readability, so don’t deviate too far from there. As for font size, this should be 11pt or 12pt.
- Use bullet points– you can see this in action right now. If all of this information in this section was in a single paragraph, it would be dense and difficult to read. By inserting bullet points, it’s easier on the eye, and the information contained is able to make important points in a concise way.
If you have a well-formatted resume, then this is going to be noticed by recruiters– and the entire job application process is all about standing out from the crowd.
#4 – An unusual hobby
The “hobby” section on a resume is one that tends to be woefully neglected, and not given much thought. However, this section is essential for rounding out you; it presents you as a person, rather than just facts on a page.
Here are a few things you should never include in your hobby section, even if they’re true:
- “I read books” (so does everyone)
- “I like to spend time with friends” (again, a given)
- “I like music” (and again, the same issue)
- “I watch movies” (if you feel you have to include this, at least define what type of movies)
- “I like exercising” (too common, and also rather vague)
The reason the above should be avoided is that they are incredibly asinine, and apply to the vast majority of the population. Recruiters have seen them before, so their eyes will gloss over, and the chance to showcase yourself as an individual is lost.
If possible, try to include an unusual hobby in this list, something that is eye-catching and different. Maybe you like to indulge in track racing, or you’re an avid collector of Star Wars figurines; anything that isn’t the same old tired descriptors as mentioned above will suffice.
#5 – A link to a personal website
Finally, a link to your personal website is a great way to showcase a skill and impress a recruiter.
To do this, you are of course going to need to have a personal website. This is relatively easy to accomplish; there are plenty of website creation services online that can have a website up and running within half an hour (and you don’t need to learn how to code to use them). When you have your site, use it as an extension of your resume. Detail your experience, things you have enjoyed about work, and give more of an insight into what you, specifically, have to offer to a company.
Not only does this help to provide a rounded picture of who you are and what you can offer, but it’s also impressive in and of itself. The fact that you have created such a website shows initiative, and shows that you have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that your job application is as thorough as possible. It’s also a great way to attract the recruiters who prefer more information over shorter resumes; keep the resume concise, but provide a way for them to obtain more information should they wish to.
If you follow the advice above, you can be sure that your resume is polished to perfection. You will be able to stand out from other candidates and, hopefully, stand a better chance of finding a job you love.