Does your resume showcase your best talents and achievements? Are you really selling yourself? Resume writing is a bane for many job seekers, but is usually the first point of contact with a prospective employer, so it is vital you get it right the first time.
The most common mistake when writing a resume is a tendency to emphasise duties instead of accomplishments. We explain in detail the tasks we performed in a role or company, but often forget to list our achievements.
In order to increase your chances of success, your resume must contain the information required for an employer to decide between candidates. While a resume is predominantly about you and your achievements, it is also important to focus on the employer, how you will add value to their company and why you are the best fit for them.
Research shows when it comes to gaining employment, work experience trumps education. Therefore, an employer must be able to envisage what you can do for their company, and this requires job descriptions to be outcome-based as opposed to task-based. In other words, when writing a resume, it is important to ask yourself ‘what did I achieve at this particular company?’ instead of simply asking ‘what did I do?’.
This demonstrates to an employer that you are not merely competent in performing a task, but that you also understand why you are doing it. Thus, you can manage your time effectively because you understand the bigger picture.
By focusing on your accomplishments in previous roles, you are telling an employer exactly what you can contribute to their company. Employers want to know how you will make a significant difference. A simple rewording of job tasks can achieve this. For example, a bullet point such as ‘Coordinated graphic design projects from concept to completion’ could become ‘Successfully completed client projects to the value of $470,000, while establishing trusting relationships with clients’. This simple rewording makes a passive sentence into a strong action-focused one, and can make a huge difference to the overall tone of your resume.
In addition to focusing on past work achievements, keep your resume short. Research shows the average recruiter will only look at a candidate’s name, current job title and company, current position start and end dates, previous position title and company, previous position start and end dates and education history. You can view a fantastic heat map of recruiters’ eye movements over CVs here.
So, follow the KISS principle when writing a resume, and keep it simple sweetheart. Only include jobs that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Job recruiters typically avoid ‘job-hoppers’, and it is becoming increasingly popular amongst millennials, so listing only relevant jobs will make you appear less flighty, put you at an advantage over other candidates, and make employers more likely to invest in you.
Lastly, the appearance of your resume can be just as important as its substance, and can determine whether an employer reads it thoroughly. Your resume is your marketing tool, and the first impression an employer has of you, so make it count!