Writing an Effective Resume

Before you sit down to create a resume, you should first consider why you’re writing one, who you’re writing it for and what they are going to do with it. Once you see things from the employer’s perspective, it’s easier to decide what to include and what to leave out.

Why do employers ask for a resume?

To decide which candidates to meet.

Most critically, companies ask for resumes so that they can compare your experience with other candidates. Depending on the role, a hiring manager may have between 3 and 50 resumes to review, after which they will decide who to meet.

While your consultant can often secure the right meetings for you even if your resume is initially passed over, a clear, concise resume gives you the chance to make an impact from the outset.

To save time

It’s important to empathise with the hiring manager. Recruitment is unlikely to be their only task and they probably won’t review all the resumes at once. Yours may be read as one of a hundred other e-mails received that day; it may be interrupted by a telephone call or by a question from a colleague. In short, your resume needs to attract attention and efficiently deliver the information that will get you the meeting.

To build a framework for the interview.

Your resume accelerates and focuses the meeting. It allows the interviewer to make assumptions about your ability and experience, and structure appropriate questions. Without a resume, the interviewer would have to start from the beginning with the most general of questions. A good resume allows your interviewer to get to the substance of the interview quickly, giving you more time to demonstrate your skills and achievements. In turn, it will also give you more time to assess the company and the role on offer.

To help the employer’s team form a collective opinion.

Companies rarely hire after just one interview. You will usually have to interact with a number of people that will collectively decide whether to offer you the role. At each stage, decision makers will be briefed on you before an interview, and they will brief others before subsequent interviews ? often using your resume as the point of reference. Resumes are also used to review candidates at the end of the process.

What makes makes a good resume stand out from a bad one?

1 - Good resumes are precise and to the point.

Quantify your current role and responsibilities concisely using facts and real achievements. Do not over-explain ? experienced people will understand the detail of a complex task. A headline should suffice.

For example:

sample resume
  • (a)Hiring managers will infer a number of things about you from their knowledge of your current employer, including its culture, personalities, deals, training and your involvement in each project or deal.
  • (b)Give your title and your team or department. Most companies comprise many different kinds of specialists, yet many resumes are vague on the exact position held. Titles show how you fit in to the organization and your level of responsibility. Be clear about your specialization so that the employer can judge how relevant your market, product or technical knowledge is to their position.
  • (c)Dates indicate your commitment and consistency. Many hiring managers are suspicious of vague or missing dates.
  • (d)Clearly state the main function of your role, whether you dealt with clients, managed financial or management accounts, or were responsible for P and L, for example. This will help position your role accurately in the employer’s mind.
  • (e)Outline your greatest achievements and the role you played. 'Managed', 'Assisted', 'Closed are all very different skills and will have clear implications on your experience. If you undersell them, you risk not getting the interview or being interviewed by someone more junior than yourself; if you oversell, you risk losing respect once it’s identified.
  • (f)Date your achievements, it shows progression.

2 - Do not use internal acronyms and jargon.

Every company naturally develops its own set of acronyms and jargon, language that often means nothing to outsiders. Spell out acronyms and avoid company-specific jargon.

3 - Concentrate on your recent achievements and work history.

In general, past roles merely qualified you to get where you are now. It is your current role that will qualify you for your next position, so focus most attention on that. A single line for each past position, describing your role and responsibility and your most significant achievements, will be enough to indicate the depth and direction of your career.

4 - Only record your most recent educational or professional qualifications.

Like your past jobs, qualifications that enabled you to get to the next qualification have little impact and can be ignored.

5 - Only include personal interests that you can and want to talk about.

Interviewers will usually only talk about personal interests if they share a similar interest or if they are trying to break the ice. Don't include casual interests on your resume, you risk being caught out by someone who has real passion for the subject.

6 - Good resumes are short.

Your age, your last role and your achievements to date will give a good idea of your capability to take on the next challenge. Statistically, past achievements are the best indication of how well you’ll perform in your next position. If the recruiting manager can accurately see your achievements from a one or two-page resume, a decision can be made. Few people require more detail than that, but if they do they will bring it up in the interview as a topic for discussion.

Finally, a well-written cover letter summarizing your achievements and explaining why you're interested in the position can help create the right impression. The Specialized Group can help you with resume and cover letter writing appropriate to the roles you’re looking for as we help you through the application process.