First impressions may only take a moment to make, but they have the troublesome habit of lingering a lot longer if your aim to impress misses its mark. And when you're in the business of trying to impress for employment, your resume acts as the first professional introduction.
Recruiters receive an average of 250 CVs per corporate job opening, and then only about four to six of those paper faces will be invited to an in-person interview. Take these tips into consideration if you want to get in that door.
1. Grammar and spelling errors
Typos. There one of the biggest resume killers. (There/they’re… did you spot that? A recruiter will!)
"Sixty per cent of surveyed recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error on a resume– while managers and MSPs will especially decline you if the role is detail oriented-- even if you’re highly qualified," says Hilary Fisher, a Technical Recruiter with Procom.
DON’T: Ever solely rely on spellcheck.
DO: Enlist a second pair of eyes to review the document after you’ve proofread it yourself--twice!
2. Duty driven vs. accomplishment driven statements
Be quantifiable-- In other words, the numbers. When you’re trying to show the value you can bring to a future employer, recruiters and hiring managers want to see what you’ve produced for the previous ones. List any stats that highlight revenue generated or the results of a project you supported. Remember though, figures don’t always have to be monetary to prove their worth. Make sure to include any percentages of achieved targets or time taken to deliver a piece of work or project.
DONT: Include something like, “Responsible for organizing department files.”
DO: Include something like, “Contributed to improving office efficiency by organizing 10 years’ worth of chaotic files, ensuring easy access to all department members.”
4. The one size fits all approach
Your resume needs to be specifically tailored to each job you apply to.
DON’T: Assume your resume will work for all positions just because you have matching skills and experience.
DO: Read the job description carefully, identify the keywords used and ensure to include them within the summary and body of your resume.
5. Unexplained gaps
Typically anything longer than three months is a recruitment red flag on your resume. Procom’s Director of Recruitment, Wendy Kennah explains, “I would say anything under three months is not alarming because it could be market conditions, time of the year, etc. that made it difficult to find the next project. Anything longer than three months without an explanation makes it something you should call out explicitly on the resume.” Always include the months and years in your work history.
DO: Be up front about any large gap, and address the issue in your cover letter or explain right in the resume: i.e. Dec 2013- March 2014: Parental or Maternity Leave/ Sabbatical/World Travel/ Family Caregiver.
6. Fancy formatting
Leave grids, charts and boxes off your resume. Robots recruiters use to find you can't read them and will most likely result in your resume not making it into an inbox.
DONT: Include photos or selfies of yourself on your resume as it isnt the standard practice.
DO: save your resume as a word doc. as opposed to a PDF. If changes need to be made, precious time can be squandered with email back and forths for editing.
7. Inconsistent fonts and colours
Your resume should consist of strictly black and white basics and be presented in one font. When it comes to capitalization, only proper nouns and organizations receive capital letters. If you choose to capitalize your job titles, make sure it’s consistent throughout the entire document.
DON’T: Bold, Italicize or change the font of random words for emphasis.
DO: Keep it simple!
8. Inappropriate email address
Another recent study found 76% of resumes are dismissed for having an unprofessional email address. "Hotgina@yahoo.com is very questionable," says Valerie Anderson-Migliore, a Technical Recruiter with Procom. "The impression I have is that they have poor judgment and unprofessional manner. I might call to quality but advise they set up separate professional email - as well as checking security tools on their social media accounts."
When your resume is your professional representation, make sure you're being presented in the best possible way.
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