I just finished sorting the first round of applicants for some job openings in my business unit. These are tough roles to hire for as they require a very specific set of skills. That said, there were a number of common mistakes in the submitted resumes. After reading almost 30 resumes for two roles, some patterns emerged that any applicant should consider when writing their own CV.
- Use less words – The long description of your qualifications, skills, and experience doesn’t make you look more seasoned, it makes you look less. It also makes it difficult to find your real talents.
- Focus on results – What you were responsible for is usually irrelevant. Talk about what changed about the business due to your efforts. Be specific: don’t say “contributed significantly to the bottom line”, say grew billings 30% over 18 months.
- Avoid weird fonts – Unless you are a trained designer, straying from the basics here will almost always give someone a negative impression.
- Avoid weird layout – When looking at a lot of resumes, hiring managers start to train their eye to look for things in a specific place. Deciding to be different just starts the things off on the wrong foot as he or she now needs to hunt to find information. This is not a time to get creative.
- Use “bold” sparingly – Company names or position titles may make sense to allow for quicker navigation. Please though, don’t pick out words that you think a hiring manager may find interesting. That’s a sure sign you are using too many words to begin with.
- Don’t crowd the page – You have a lot of power in deciding how someone discovers you by carefully laying out your resume as a PDF. When following the guidelines above, make sure you lay out the information so that it is nicely spaced.
- Make sure you are qualified – This is just about kindness to your fellow man. Finding a job can be difficult but this is not a process where you can sacrifice quality for quantity. In the rare case where you find the perfect role that seems like a stretch in terms of your experience, write a cover letter that acknowledges the gap and details why you are applying anyway.
TL:DR – Keep it short, format it normally, and focus on the results you’ve achieved in prior jobs that qualify you for your next job.