Did you know the average amount of time employers take to scan resumes is just six seconds? If you want to make it past that six-second assessment, you need to think carefully about how you present your information. The same applicant can look super amazing or average on paper, all depending on what you choose to say and how you say it. We have scoured through the best tips online from bosses and recruiters and found some examples to illustrate. Here’s our 10-point perfect business resume cheat sheet.
1. Stick to one page and be selective
Except for a few professions and mid-career professionals, the standard is a one-page resume. It may seem unreasonable to condense your entire employment history down into one page, but it is possible. In fact, it’s a great exercise in selection. Organise your previous work experience in short summaries, bullet points and in reverse chronological order, with just a few points for each job highlighting achievements in your role. A great basic structure for a one page CV is name/contact and links up the top; summary; highlights or key skills; work experience; and education at the bottom of the page.
2. Start with a killer executive summary
Unless you flesh out your story with a summary, your resume will read like a shopping list of achievements. The summary is the first thing the reader will see, so make it right. You are a person with a history and ambitions, and the employer wants to know how you see yourself. Come up with a little elevator pitch of several sentences giving an overview of your professional personality and career goals.
3. Actions (and quantified achievements) speak louder than words
Giving examples of results helps to flesh out what you’ve accomplished, and quantifying these adds gravity to your statements. For example, given a choice between the following statements, it’s obvious which sounds better:
- Successfully managed a team of 10 people working on project X
- Led a team of 10 to complete project X, with a resulting 12% increase in profits in my division.
4. Give the reader some space
This study of where recruiters look when they’re looking at resumes demonstrates that good layout leads directly to more time being given to scanning your page. Don’t cram information in. Use structural elements such as bullet points, lines and variations in boldness and size of text to give your information structure. By giving the page some space, you can help direct the reader’s attention to the most important parts.
5. Speak to employers in their language
You can pick apart the key words that recruiters and employers are looking for by scouring the job description. These are the attributes they’re searching for, so find a way to frame your experience using their language. Plus, some recruiters use software to scan applications and that software is designed to look for these specific key words. Remember to tweak your CV to speak directly to each position you apply for.
6. Include links to your online profile
According to Business Insider, 86% of recruiters admit to looking up applicants online whether they provide links or not. Include a link to your website, blog or Linkedin profile in the section with your contact details so that you control what they see online. Make sure your online presence is consistent and up to date before you do.
7. Can you link your experience to known brands?
Whether it’s a business school, a known award or a company, recognisable brands can add some serious cred to your resume. Have you worked for a company that has big name clients? Have you done even a short course at a prestigious school? Make sure you add this information to give extra weight to your professional identity.
8. Include critical information on the companies you have worked for
Unless your previous companies are household names, chances are your recruiter won’t know much about them. It is difficult for employers to get a sense of your role in the company without knowing a few essential points. How big was the business? Managing the division of a company with hundreds of employees is impressive, so it’s worth mentioning. Was the company a start-up that’s now growing? You can place yourself within its success. Maybe your company is or works for other enterprises that are leaders in their fields, but they are not household names. Mention it.
9. Don’t undersell achievements
Applicants frequently undersell achievements because they don’t contextualise or illustrate them. Winning an award may be impressive, but being selected over 250 candidates is way more impressive. If you were shortlisted for something where there’s a lot of competition it’s worth mentioning, even if you didn’t win. Don’t be afraid to use power words like ‘innovation’ and ‘ground-breaking’ when describing your achievements, too.
10. Keep it clean and simple
Don’t be tempted to try and stand out from the pack by using graphics, colour or fancy layouts. Unless you’re applying for a job as a graphic designer, these elements will only confuse and annoy. Clean, simple, well-structured, mostly black and white layouts are far easier on the eye.
At KBS, we take the future prospects of our graduates very seriously – that’s why we provide you with your personalised Careers Central service. Combining industry placement, and one-on-one career coaching, Careers Central has every aspect of the post-study job search covered. We provide advice on everything ranging from interview techniques to cover letter preparation. Last year, 265 out of 1273 students were successfully placed via our Careers Central program. Contact your Careers Officer on campus if you are a current KBS student to make an appointment.