Ten Keys To Resume Success

During my time working as an agency recruiter, there were often days when I would view over 100 resumes within an 8 hour period. This could be from a combination of sourcing avenues such as Seek or candidates found on our company’s database. It used to amaze me how poorly some people would construct their resumes and generally, when I had 100 + resumes to read, the individuals who had failed to stand out within a couple of seconds would be put to the side. Career experience is obviously critical but who is to say what resume looks better than another? Just because a certain format looks good to one person doesn’t mean the next individual will react in the same way. One thing I can be sure of is what my clients and myself would always be looking for in a solid resume.

Here are our 10 Keys To Resume Success…

1. Use Appropriate Formatting

Your resume should be easy to read, allowing the viewer to withdraw the information they need quickly. The best resumes are normally structured with bolded headings, clear spacing’s and bullet points for role responsibilities. Depending on how long your career has been they are generally not any longer than around six pages or any less than two. Personally, i would request expansion of detail in my candidate’s resumes if they sent me anything less than two pages.

2. Use Correct Spelling & Grammar

This is one of the main things which used to amaze me with some resumes. Spelling and grammar is really important. If you are spelling things wrong or using poor grammar and punctuation, automatically it looks as though you have either rushed your resume or you simply have poor written communication. I understand we can’t all be perfect with our wording but if you think you might have a tendency to make some errors with your written work, I would advise you arrange for a second set of eyes to look over your resume before you send it out.

3. Don’t Use Weird Font

Using abstract font isn’t a good idea. If the content in your resume is hard on the eyes, there’s a chance your profile might not be taken as seriously as it should be. Reading through a big body of resume content, written in some form of Old English is not fun. Clean fonts like an Arial, Calibri or Helvetica are some good examples to use. There are many options you can pick, just be cautious of the reader being able to read the content easily.

4. Focus On Key Words

Recruitment databases aren’t what they used to be. They are evolving everyday and have now become extremely functional for internal and agency recruiters. Candidate shortlisting now revolves largely around something called “key word searching”. Key word searching involves the recruiter running a search on their database, focusing on keywords within a candidates resume. For example, if I were looking for a maintenance supervisor who has experience working on mobile plant such as dump trucks and rope shovels, I would punch a wording combination such as (“maintenance supervisor” AND “dump truck” AND “rope shovel”) into my search bar. What will then occur is every resume that is on our database that has these three wording combinations will come up in a shortlist. The candidates who have these keywords listed in their resumes the most will come to the top of the list with most databases. It’s very important for today’s job seeker to know how to structure their resume, keeping their main key words in mind. In many cases, some of the best candidates on our database would show up at the bottom of a shortlist because they had structured their resume in a way which made it hard to find them on our system. Know your keywords and list them in sensible fashion as much as possible.

5. Be Honest

Every now and then I would read a great resume which would lead to myself arranging an interview, only to find out at interview stage the candidate had lied about various things on his/her resume. In some similar worse cases, I would find out about such fabrication at reference stage! I am all for someone maximizing their chances of gaining employment but lying on your resume about your capability, qualifications or tenure of employment, is not the way to go. This automatically leaves a bad taste in the mouth and puts you in a bad position to gain employment with that company. Also, all of us work in an industry where word of mouth travels fast. Lying on your resume and being found out could also put you at risk of not gaining employment with other companies in the same sector.

6. Tell Your Story

Achievements, awards, special honors, outside of work interests and career goals are all extra things which can aid to tell your story. If you’re resume has an “about me” section, subtle confidence in your description is always good but don’t overdo it. You want the reader to gauge a feeling for your personality whilst developing a curiosity that will ultimately make them want to pick the phone up and call you.

7. Ditch The Picture

The picture in a resume is outdated. Unless your application specifically asks for an image of your face, leave it out. I can’t ever remember working on a vacancy where a client specifically wanted a candidates headshots included in the process. Ditch the picture..

8. Protect Your Reference Details

If a past manager or employer has been kind enough to put their hand up to be a reference for you, protect their contact details and don’t provide them until you have interest from a potential employer. Some people will send a huge amount of applications with their reference contact details listed and never get through to reference stage. What could happen is your references will start getting cold called or hassled by the recruiters you are sending the resumes to. Common courtesy would be to protect your references details until they are defiantly required. The best way to manage the reference section of your resume in preliminary phase is to simply state “references –provided on request”. Once they are needed or asked for from a hiring manager you can then send them.

9. Ensure your Linkedin Profile Matches Your Resume

With over 450 million global users and every recruiter on earth now using LinkedIn as candidate sourcing tool, your LinkedIn profile is now a fairly important part of your professional presence. It should mirror your resume for the most part. The content should align and the dates of employment should be exact. If there are different dates of employment listed on your resume compared to your Linkedin profile, it automatically raises some questions on your tenure of employment. I can guarantee that most agency and internal recruiters cross reference between the two almost immediately when they receive an candidate application. There are various reasons for this, such as seeing who has recommended you and what mutual contacts you might have. Put some time and effort into your LinkedIn profile and ensure it matches your resume.

10. Use A Professional If Possible

The above listed points are all but a small handful of things to keep in mind when compiling your resume. The general aesthetic and format of your resume at times will dictate whether you get a call or not for a job. Hence, it’s very important that your resume is compiled keeping modern day recruitment process, databases and sourcing frameworks in mind. We aren’t all recruitment professionals who know tricks of the trade and best methods for the task, so it is a good idea to arrange for a resume writing professional to compile your resume for you. Try and find business or service who employs ex recruiters who know what they’re talking about. The state of your linkedin profile has also become really important in the job seeking process, so if you aren’t 100% confident on how it looks it might be worth having a professional start a new profile or complete your profile for you. Most resume writing services also complete LinkedIn profiles.

Engineered Resume Solutions specialise in resume, cover letter & linkedin profile writing for professionals engaged within resources, construction and engineering sectors. For more information on how we can assist you career plans, get in touch via our contact page or email us at info@engineeredresumesolutions.com

Dan McComb


Engineered Resume Solutions


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