A resume is a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous occupations, and is typically sent with a job application.

 

It is also the first impression you give a recruiter or hiring manager.

Whilst the task of summarising your career highlights, experience, skills and achievements in the span of a couple of pages can be difficult, it is incredibly important to find that sweet spot when it comes to presentation. Why? Because it will greatly influence your chances of being asked to come in for an interview… or not.

Whilst we know a good resume is crucial at any given time, it is even more important during a crisis. When unemployment rates increase, the competition for jobs does also, which is why having a resume that stands out is essential.

In this particular case, the COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly changed the job market overnight! While some industries have suffered immensely and may never recover, others have benefited from the crisis and are now ramping up hiring for roles in a world increasingly shifting to digital.

In fact, thousands of jobs are opening up in the healthcare, education, e-commerce, tech and logistics industries to name but a few. This is specifically relevant for businesses with a big online presence. From online retailers, tech companies as well as supermarket chains, businesses of all shapes and sizes are moving to take advantage of people confined to their homes and practicing self-distancing due to COVID-19 concerns.

For instance, retail giant Walmart, which has seen a strong demand in its stores amid the coronavirus crisis, is looking to grow its workforce by 150,000 to fill service and delivery roles in its stores and distribution centers. Meanwhile, some 100,000 jobs are opening with online retailer Amazon due to a surge in demand in online shopping.

As such, if you have lost your job or are looking for a career change at this time, it’s worth looking into the sectors mentioned above. as we predict an increase in demand.

Although the opportunity may exist, it’s worth remembering that the competition is going to be tough, so it is important for you to have your first line of defense ready: your CV.

Think of your CV as your sales pitch. Will it be convincing enough to create a strong first impression with hiring managers and recruiters? Will it get you a step closer to a job offer? How do you make it stand out from the competition?

 

“The most unforgettable resume I’ve ever received
came with the subject line
“Why you should hire me”.”

 

Recruiters and HR managers for global and local companies handle between 600 to 1,000 applications daily during peak hiring periods, with 100 applications going to one vacancy alone. With stacks of resumes to sift through, you may be wondering what catches their attention. Here are a few tips & tricks to get you started…

 

Keep it Short

With declining attention spans in mind, it’s best to go straight to the point and keep your resume as short as possible. Although the format and length may vary from one country to another, I’d recommend aiming for a one to two-page resume if you can.

Just to give you some perspective, considering the number of applications we recruiters receive a day, we only have about 8 to 10 seconds to scan a CV on average. As such, the shorter the better.

The next step to figure out is what CV length fits your experience. Recent studies have shown that recruiters were twice as likely to hire two-page resume senior applicants over similar applicants with a one-page CV.

On the other hand, contrary to popular belief, entry-level workers with less experience should stick to a one-page resume. There is no need to add fluff to your CV to appear more experienced. Best be transparent and clear.

To help you condense your CV, it’s best to remember that you do not need to cram everything in it. Your resume is not meant to be a detailed timeline, and as such there is no need to explain everything there. It’s worth keeping some mystery so that when you get invited for an interview, you still have a few tricks up your sleeve to win them over.

 

Keep the Layout Simple

Don’t make recruiters hunt for the information they need from your résumé. Keep the styling simple but carefully curate content that makes an impact.

 

“Write tight, lean and clean.”

 

– Use a clean layout with margins and spacing to create breathing space and highlight important information in the right place.

– Put your most important information at the top.

– Put key points in bold text to draw attention.

– Break up chunks of text with bullet points and headers.

– Use easy-to-read fonts. I highly recommend Arial, Verdana or Helvetica. Do not go for Calibri, Tahoma or Comic Sans. And as a general rule of thumb, use black as the default font colour and at least 12 points so it’s easier to read.

– Use visual breaks like headers to emphasize your experience, education, summary and skills.

– Keep job titles bold, supported by a bulleted list of accomplishments.

– Including your photo can add visual interest but please don’t use selfie shots. It’s also worth remembering that photos are not compulsory in some countries (such as in Australia) and highly recommended in others (such as France). It is worth researching the particular rules that apply to your country of residence or of interest.

 

All in all, I would encourage you to take advantage of CV templates or contacting a recruiter to help you get the professional look that you are aiming for.

 

Curate Winning Content

Now that you’ve got the layout and styling in check, let’s move on to the meat of the matter: your content. Here’s where you can impress with your choice of words.

 

“The top part of your resume is prime real estate.”

 

Use the top part of your resume to give recruiters a snapshot of what they need to know: your name and contact information. You can follow this with a summary statement which should be a brief paragraph that highlights your experience and tells your employer how you fit the role.

What you should put depending on your profession:

– Name & Contact Details

– Key Achievements and Projects Delivered

Skills

– Employment History

– Education

 

A strong resume takes time and effort to create, but since the end goal is to catch a recruiter’s eye, you want to make sure you put your best foot forward so as to increase your chances of moving on to the next round (i.e the interview stage).

So as to nail your first impression, it is crucial to put in the time, be specific and authentic. It is also important to continually update your resume and customise it to the job at hand. The format plays a huge role but it’s important to remember not to go overboard and risk creating more confusion.

At the end of the day, you want the recruiter to focus on the content, so make sure it is as easy to read as possible. And if in doubt, ask yourself what you’d like to see if you were about to recruit someone. This should help guide you.’

 

About the Author:

With 10+ years experience in Talent Acquisition, Asthon is an expert in finding top-notch candidates. Passionate about his work, he makes a point to create long-lasting relationships with his clients in order to watch them grow and thrive over time. Having helped clients both locally and internationally, he is one-of-a-kind growth partner.
Read more about Ashton Ngwenya.