Tips on Writing an Eye-Catching Resumé

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How long do I have to make the right first impression?

Over the years, I have received a lot of feedback from recruitment agencies and an interesting fact which has come up over and over again is they allow only 10 seconds maximum to scan your resumé. That’s right, 10 seconds!

So what can you do to ensure your resumé catches the reader’s attention and makes them want to interview you once they have conducted this quick scan? What draws them in to read your resumé in more depth?

Below are some tips that I have personally discovered to work. I found these have increased the effectiveness of the resumé I personally create for my own clients hugely and they can do the same for you.

  1. Highlight the “Employment” or “Career Highlights” section on the first page of your CV. Long lists of “attributes” and “personal interests” will do nothing for you at all, particularly if listed on the first page of your CV
  2. Choose a layout that is both professional but makes optimal use of space. For some examples, I recommend checking award winning CVs as found on the Career Directors International website Click here to see examples
  3. Focus on result-based achievements rather than dry and boring “responsibilities”. If you are going to list an achievement, highlight the results you produced rather than a generalised, meaningless statement about what you did. For example, saying “Decreased fuel consumption by 39% through the introduction of company fuel cards” as opposed to “saved money and increased efficiency through implementing various initiatives” which is meaningless as it lacks a quantifiable result.
  4. Never include your date of birth, marital status, religion, sexual orientation or political opinion on your resume. This shouldn’t be a part of the employment assessment process and it is actually illegal for an employer to ask for your age etc per the Employment Equality Act.
  5. If you do include a career objective, the more targeted and specific the better. Statements about “using my skills to their fullest” will not do you any favours because they don’t state what you actually wish to achieve.
  6. Have someone else check over your CV and give you an objective opinion of its effectiveness, ideally someone with a recruitment or resumé writing background. Or, you could submit it to us using our “free resumé critique” service.

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Common mistakes made when writing a resumé

Job application

Why pay someone to write my resumé when I can do it myself?

This is a question many people ask when they think about resumés. People believe you can just download a resumé template, fill in the blanks with your info, send it off and await the interview call. The problem is, they have just done what the majority of the other hundred or more applicants have done. And these resumé are what we call a shopping list resumé.

A shopping list resumé is a hastily thrown together list of the bare essentials and will not make you stand out. If anything, it will highlight your lack of attention to detail and will utterly fail to make a good impression. Would you go to a job interview in your track suit pants and slippers? Well, why would you send a resumé that looks like it was thrown together with as little effort?

Over the past 20 years, I have read, assessed and rewritten tens of thousands of resumés and CVs. The following are the most common mistakes I see candidates make repeatedly, and so I want to share these with you so you can make sure they don’t crop up in your resumé!

 Main Resumé/CV Errors

  1. Avoid dry and boring lists of duties and responsibilities
    These cause your resumé to look like every other resumé out there. Instead, talk about your key achievements. 
    For example, which one of these statements sounds better? 
    “Saved company money on fuel”
    “Reduced company fuel bill by 39% through the introduction of fuel cards”
    List the things you achieved that were “above and beyond” the capabilities of anyone else in the same position.
  2. Avoid listing previous positions in current tense rather than past tense and vice versa. Check your punctuation and tense as these little things can bias a recruiter against you. If you are not confidant with your grammar, ask someone who is to read it.
  3. Do not put long lists of key skills such as team player or people person on your resumé. Unless backed up by evidence, these are meaningless, and in all honesty, everyone lists these clichés on a resumé.
  4. Don’t make a resumé too long, nor attach pages of references. You really need to grab the recruiters attention by the first or second page at the latest so do not put your best material further back than that. Also, if you make it too long, they just won’t read it.
  5. Never put your date of birth, religion, political stance or marital status on a resumé. This is unnecessary and legally you are not obliged to disclose personal information. However, if you are about to start looking for new employment, it would be very smart to clean up your online presence. Do not think that an employer won’t Google search you. Look yourself up and see what they will find (you may be very surprised how much of you is visible online.)
  6. Avoid plain and overused layouts. They do nothing to promote you and you will not stand out. Try and be a little creative and angle your resumé to your field, I.e. if you are applying for a professional field, look the part. If you are going for something creative then let that show in your resumé.

These tips will help you spruce up your resumé and avoid the pitfalls most people fall into.

And remember, once you have redrafted your resumé based on the above tips, you can always forward your document to us for a free resumé critique.   You have little to lose and so much to gain!

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Resumé or CV?

Resume writing

Is the correct term Resumé or CV? Most people don’t realise there actually is a difference and not knowing can decrease your chances in landing your dream job.

You may have noticed these two terms used interchangeably and many clients ask me what is the difference between the two.  One of the differences is geographical, i.e. where you are on the planet. The UK market prefers the term ‘CV’ whilst in Australia and in the USA, the term ‘resumé’ is more often used.

But there is actually more to it than that. So why two different words?  Well, let’s look at their definitions.

The word resumé derives from a French word meaning to sum up.

CV is an abbreviation of the Latin words Curriculum Vitae which can be  loosely translated as the ‘course of your life’ or your ‘life history’ – vitae meaning life, and curriculum meaning course

Generally, a resumé is the shorter of the two and is a summary of your employment, skills and life experience. It is usually 1-3 pages long and is often written in a direct style and aimed at a specific job application.

A CV is a more lengthy document and can be used to detail your full life experience and history more thoroughly and is usually laid out chronologically. It can be 2-6 pages long (but remember to make the good stuff stand out) and offers the recruiter much more detail.

Often you will be asked to send in your resumé to a recruiter who will have to read through potentially hundreds of pages to create a short list to be interviewed. At Help Write My Resume, we create resumé that will help you stand out from the crowd and get you to that next stage.

Contact Help Write My Resumé and get started TODAY