You might have heard hiring managers only spend six seconds looking at a resume before making a decision.
Scary, right? And while it may not be that drastic, the HR team can’t afford to spend time reading each resume thoroughly so, often, they look for reasons to dismiss a resume on the first pass. They only typically take a thorough look at the resumes of shortlisted candidates.
You don’t want to end up in the rejection pile because of something as silly as bad grammar or lack of information.
Here are our tips to increase your chances of making it through the cut and onto the interview stage:
1. Do a spelling and grammar check. Make sure that everything reads correctly. Use the spell checker on your computer and also have a friend read it over to look for anything you may have missed.
2. Don’t guess about grammar or spellings rules that you’re not sure about. If you’re not sure where to use commas and apostrophes, find a friendly Grammar-wiz to give you a hand or use a program like Grammarly to give it a once-over.
3. Use proper formatting. Use reasonable margins (2.54cm) a legible font size (size 10-12), and a clear, easy-to-read font like Georgia or Helvetica.
4. Don’t use fancy or outdated fonts. Like Comic Sans (universally voted the worst font ever) or illegible ones such as scripts that imitate handwriting, e.g. BrushScript.
5. Use bullet points… To catch the recruiter’s attention and highlight important aspects of your career.
6. But don’t bullet point everything. If you have emphasised everything in your career as important then you have left nothing that really stands out.
7. Be consistent throughout your resume. Use the same format for dates, job titles and headings. Make sure everything is aligned correctly, you don’t want to appear sloppy or slapdash. This is where a lot people who claim to have “attention to detail” fall over! Don’t change font type, font size (outside of headings), or the ordering of information.
8. Use date order in sections like ‘Work History’. You want to make it easy for the recruiter, not make them work to find your details.
9. Do tailor your resume for each job opening. And use keywords related to the industry and job position you are applying for. This includes using active verbs in your responsibilities section to clearly define your key skills.
10. Don’t use a generic resume that tries to address multiple job types. You risk looking like a Jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Most job descriptions include skills directly related to the job in addition to other desirable soft skills. Make sure you use the same terms in your resume and application to avoid the hiring manager (or the software they use) having to guess about whether you have them.