Six Tricks to Writing a Résumé that Hits
Always tell a great story. The most important thing to know about your CV/résumé is that it’s not about you. It’s about the hiring manager trying to solve a challenge for the business: fill a gap, grow a team, replace an under-performer. Fundamentally, they are trying to answer two questions:
1) are you the best person for the job?
2) will you fit in around here?
Therefore, your job is simply to make answering those questions easy.
Whether you’re sticking to paper – or taking the leap to digital – apply these tricks.
1. One chance to make a first impression
“Almost everyone will make a good first impression, but only a few will make a good lasting impression.” ― Sonya Parker
Create a beautiful balance between your text and white space. Less is more.
Open with an impactful and unique career summary. A 20-second scripted showreel. Make each word earn its real estate.
Parade your individuality and uniqueness by avoiding cliches and buzzwords like hardworking, thought-leader, passionate, highly motivated, results-driven, and always gives 100%.
Clearly name each section and start with your strongest section first. If you’re unsure which this is, ask that straight-shooting friend of yours – famous for telling it how it is.
List your work history in reverse order, most recent job first. Your hiring manager is most interested in who you are today.
2. Looks are everything
“Bad design shouts at you. Good design is the silent seller.” ― Shane Meendering
Select simple design elements to enhance readability, so your story pops. A consistent, easy-to-read font. Plain. Simple. Clear. Check out free design tools that are intuitive to use and help bring your résumé to life such as Canva.
Simple bullets that don’t overpower the page. Stick to 5-10 bullets per section. More than that and you’ll deserve one.
Strategic use of bolding and lines. Think of a well-tailored suit – at a glance – drawing your eye to the best bits.
Resist littering the page with CAPS, #symb*ls^, exclamation marks!!, and random underlining. Match punctuation and tone to your audience.
Double-double check spelling, spacing, sizing, grammar, margins, and page breaks. No excuses today if this isn’t your MO – use a free, online tool like Grammarly.
Save and send as a PDF unless the uploading system doesn’t allow it. This will ensure that your impact lands as it was sent.
3. Writing Style
“Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret.” ― Matthew Arnold
Create a logical, easy-to-understand flow. Like writing a book, you’ll create a rough draft and then complete a number of edits as you tinker towards perfection.
Make one key point at a time, so your skills and experiences are easy to unpack. Care about the quality of execution, not the quantity.
Remove all references to “I”, “me” or “my”. While the subject is you, the decision to hire you is not. Keep things focused on the impact you would have, should you be successful in the role.
Adopt an upbeat, professional tone, without gimmicks. Find the right balance between personality and the product that is you.
Make every word count – simple, elegant, zero waffle.
Take a cipher and soul approach; hard-hitting deliverables with energy and passion. What are you known for? What are you guaranteed to bring to the table?
4. Career Goal
“Your career is your business. It’s time for you to manage it as a CEO.” ― Dorit Sher
Be specific and decisive in your career goal. Employers want people who know what they want, even if they haven’t got the whole route mapped out.
If transitioning from another sector or role, highlight past experiences and transferable skills that bridge nicely to the new role adding depth, experience, and fresh perspective.
Use sector-specific terminology so you fit in.
Check the entire content of your résumé sings with your career goal.
“Our accomplishments show what kind of people we are.” ― Gil Scott-Heron
A powerful statement of your provable points.
State accomplishments quantified by numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, or other concrete measures of success. Do not deal in the currency of anecdotes.
Launch statements with strong, varied action words – swap ‘led’ for ‘orchestrated’ or ‘developed’ for ‘pioneered.’
Separate accomplishments from responsibilities, and don’t waste time on obvious tasks. Get to the sweet stuff. The real nectar.
Don’t lie. Just don’t.
“It’s much harder to be relevant than it is to be successful.” ― Bono
Everything you write should justify why you are right for the role. Each section should build further evidence of this. He or she with the most head nods will likely be front-runner for the position.
Embed ‘hot’ words that speak directly to the skillset and temperament of the role. Show your breadth of knowledge inside and outside the industry provided it’s on-trend and on-brand for you.
Add thought leadership activities including speaking, charities, and other philanthropic work – people want real people with a voice and a soul. Besides, everyone knows busy people get stuff done.
Amend past job titles to be industry facing, as needed. Don’t go from Admin to Astronaut, but tweaks in names help manage semantics and can increase your chances of progressing through the process.
Omit irrelevant personal information, while keeping interesting angles that build a positive persona. There is a fine line between interesting and too much information.
Weave in short company summaries outlining the purpose, size, and growth of your past roles. This offers context to your conquests.
Answer their ‘So what?’ with solid evidence that clearly demonstrates your expertise, accomplishments, and simply why you fit. Behind every point should sit a work example or testimonial.
Leave additional information on your LinkedIn profile and make sure everything lines up – LinkedIn generally acts as the cross-check.
You are what Google says you are. So, before sending your résumé to any recruiters, run a search to see how you show up in the world and check for any nasty surprises.
Master these six tips to create a red-hot résumé that helps you knock on your next door of opportunity.
If there is anything in our profile that toots your horn or if you’re searching good souls for roles, get in touch.