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23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes.

If you were faced with a stack of résumés what would you want? The ability to download all the info into your brain, the way that Neo from The Matrix gets plugged in and learns Kung Fu in about ten seconds?

Unfortunately it doesn’t really work like that. In fact, research shows that recruiters take only six seconds to make their initial judgement on a résumé. If your résumé is screened by a computer first, it may not even get that far.

So, your job, when creating a killer résumé, is to make it really easy for the recruiter to spot the most important benefits you offer the employer.

Do the work, so they don’t have to. Here’s how:

1. Make sure your résumé is tailored to the job you are applying for

Generic résumés may be quick to submit, but far less effective. Better one excellent job application than three shoddy ones.

Researching the cultural norms of the organization is worthwhile. For example, within one industry some will value experience but not care much about education, while others care about your qualifications.

2. Only apply if you meet the job criteria

Don’t waste your time or the recruiter’s applying for jobs if you don’t meet their criteria. If you still want that job, go and expand your skill set before trying again in future.

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3. Don’t lie

Even if you get through the first screening, lying about or exaggerating your accomplishments is likely to come back to bite you. Recovering from the loss of trust is hard.

4. Add keywords

After writing the résumé, check it for keywords from the job description.

Keywords are gifts to you from the employer. Add them into the existing text so they flow naturally. This will help your résumé get past screening software, and recruiters who are accustomed to searching quickly for these keywords.

5. Structure your résumé carefully

It is easiest for the recruiter if your key skills and background are summarised at the top. Make sure your current and most recent previous role are on the first page.

Your education and qualifications are generally less important than your professional experience, so put these later.

6. Show how your most recent two jobs are relevant

Recruiters will spend 80% of their time on your name, the company, job title, start and end dates for your current and previous companies, and finally your education.

If you are changing direction in your career, you will need to work even harder to draw out the skills and networks you are bringing from these last two jobs.

7. Keep the résumé short

Remember the recruiter will scan your résumé in seconds. Including your school paper round or even lengthy details of your first job out of college is not something a recruiter will thank you for (unless, of course, you are applying for your second job out of college).

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8. Demonstrate progress

Show the recruiter that your career makes sense. Tell a story which shows promotions and additional responsibilities as you delivered value to your employer.

9. Use CAR as a guide

CAR stands for Context, Action, Results. Use them as a mental checklist. Keep the context short: just long enough for the recruiter to know what your job was. Spend longest what you actually achieved as a result of the actions that you took.

10. Provide proof

Qualify your results wherever possible. Beating your targets, raising finance, cutting costs, making great sales all provide convincing and easily digested data which demonstrate your achievements. Social proof such as promotions and customer feedback are also worthwhile.

11. Show you are a rounded person

Include personal projects, sports or voluntary work that you participate in, but be aware if they are activities which might stereotype you or turn an employer off.

12. Include links to other sites and social media

Keep your résumé short while demonstrating your talents by providing links to articles, photos, or websites you’ve designed, or a portfolio. Also, provide the url for your LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed it those reflect your professional abilities.

Clearly, you want to avoid a Facebook page with photos of your drunken exploits. Better still, don’t post these on social media in the first place.

13. Give a good reason for leaving an employer

Recruiters will especially be looking at the reasons you want to leave your current employer and how long you were with them. If you’ve had a series of short-lived positions you’ll need a convincing explanation of why a recruiter should take a risk on you.

14. Explain gaps in your employment history

Leaving a gap on your résumé leaves the recruiter wondering. If you’ve taken time out for parenting or starting your own business, tell them. If you’ve been traveling, show how it has enriched you as a candidate.

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15. Exclude irrelevant information

Don’t reveal your age, race, gender, marital status, or whether you have kids. Research shows that even the most self-aware recruiters have unconscious biases.

16. Show your eligibility to work

Make it easy for a recruiter to be confident that you are eligible to work without having to apply for work permits.

17. Make it easy for the recruiter to contact you

Include contact details with your email and one phone number (don’t make the recruiter have to guess which number to use). Don’t bother with your home address.

18. Format for clarity

Make sure your formatting goes hand in hand with the résumé structure to ensure recruiters can spot the key information easily.

Create clear sections with easy-to-read, consistent headlines. Use an attractive font, which is also easy to read. Don’t use Word templates. If your design skills are truly terrible get someone else to do the formatting for you.

19. Stick to a familiar format

In this case, boring is good. Unless you are specifically applying for a graphic design or creative role and want to demonstrate your talent, avoid unusual formats. Remember, the recruiter doesn’t want to be distracted as they scan the page.

Cut anything that seems clever but reduces clarity, including pictures. If you do use something different, make sure it is effective and suits the employer’s own style before you submit it.

20. Submit your résumé in pdf format

Unless you are asked otherwise, send your résumé as a pdf. This will ensure your formatting remains consistent on any device.

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21. Spell-check and grammar-check

Obvious, perhaps, but surprisingly often spelling and grammar mistakes are what leads to a résumé being put in the reject pile. Use the past tense and third person, not first person consistently throughout your résumé.

Don’t rely on your computer’s spelling and grammar checkers. They are often wrong. Edit it yourself and then get another person to read your résumé with fresh eyes.

22. Check before you include a cover letter

Most cover letters are a waste of time. Either don’t bother, or, if the recruiter specifically requests one, make sure it says something meaningful.

Cover letters can be used as headlines, picking out the most relevant parts of a résumé. They can deal with issues the recruiter may be concerned about, such as a change of career direction. They can remind a recruiter about an occasion that gave them cause to trust or care about you.

23. Don’t write to the CEO

Unless you are applying to a tiny company, or you know the CEO personally, it is not the CEO who will be doing the initial screening. Don’t waste their time.

Featured photo credit: typing on laptop, picture about education via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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