With a buoyant job market and an increasingly astute supply of candidates, it is becoming more and more important for hiring managers to be able to efficiently scan resumes. Not only is this an exponential time saver but it also means that you are more likely to select the highest-quality resumes and in turn the best talent for the job.
“Memorable resumes are ones that build an immediate connection and a true sense of the individual behind it,” says Randy Wandmacher, HR Lead, Accenture Australia & New Zealand.
While resume trends are ever changing, there are a few hard and fast rules that will enable you to quickly sift the good from the bad, and the good from the great in no time.
In simple terms: design matters. A polished resume speaks volumes about a candidate's attention to detail and often their suitability for the job. It goes beyond strong content and is professionally formatted with ample white space, clear signposts and a panache that grabs your attention. Impeccable spelling, grammar and overall editing are essential.
"All too often we see scattergun approaches, where applicants apply to a high volume of jobs and forget to change the company name or misspell the contact's details,” Dean Greaves, Director, Mars Recruitment (Melbourne) laments.
Making the top count
According to Wandmacher, “first impressions are always important, so a resume should be organised for maximum impact.”
There is nothing quite as important as having the key information in the top third of the document be it as a concise executive summary or detail of recent achievements. This shows that a candidate knows their brand and how to grab your attention.
In today’s digital landscape, candidates should also include links to professional networks, personal URLs or samples of work to showcase their accomplishments and experience.
A candidate’s key skills should also be articulated near the top of their resume. These should not only be relevant to the role but also reflect the common expectations of the job.
A great resume will also “avoid the use of generic words like ‘good communication skills’ or ‘confliction resolution skills’ but rather provide real-life, practical examples and some context around how these skills are applied,” says Greaves.
A quality resume will also showcase how a candidate is committed to continuous improvement.
It is vital that candidates quantify their major accomplishments and how they how have contributed to each role.
"This may include how much revenue a candidate has generated or saved for their employer, how many deals they have closed or the details of projects that have been delivered on time and under budget,” Greaves recommends. “A great resume will also flag how they made this happen.”
Quantifying accomplishments is an opportunity for applicants to stir your interest and demonstrate that they are the best person for the job.
Wandmacher believes that a great resume shows that a candidate is “bold to call out (their) achievements, whilst pronouncing how these skills and experience will benefit the company.” He also stresses the importance of sourcing candidates whose resumes “always keep in mind the organisation and role they are applying for”.
A strong resume should always detail work experience in reverse chronology but there will be occasions when a candidate has had periods of unemployment.
Gaps in a resume are acceptable as long as applicants provide sufficient explanation for their hiatus. For an extended absence, applicants should also flag the relevant skills they have gained, like volunteer activities or personal projects, and how they have kept up-to-date with industry changes.