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Classic Resume Rules That Still Apply

There is a place called the resume ‘black hole’. It’s where your resume goes, never to be seen again. While the way we search for jobs has changed with technology, the fundamentals of a winning resume have stayed the same, more or less.

Here are five simple resume rules that have stood the test of time. Apply these to your resume and you’ll have recruiters knocking down your door in no time.

5 Rules To Make Your Resume Standout

1. Quantity vs. Quality 

It’s all about knowing which skills and accomplishments to highlight and which ones to leave out. Take a long hard look at your resume and decide what skills will impress the pants off the recruiter, and which ones they’ll likely skim over. For those with more than 10 years of professional experience, it’s ok for your resume to expand over two pages. For those with less than 10 years experience, keep your resume to one page (two pages max). Remember, your average recruiter takes six seconds to decide on a resume, so focus on the quality of the content, not the quantity.

As Albert Einstein once said: “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Give recruiters the gift of simplicity, and you will be given the gift of a job offer.

2. Tasteful design  

There's a hard line between making your resume stand out, and over-styling it to the point of being distracting.

When you’re up against on average 250 resumes, you want to catch the recruiter’s eye, without overdoing it. Unless you’re in a specific industry that requires fancy design or colours, keep the font simple (Calibri, Arial, Helvetica are good options), consistent and no smaller than 11 point font size. Black and white are your best colour options as you don’t want to distract from the content with too many colours.

3. Company descriptions

Company descriptions are fine to include but they must add value. If you’ve worked for a smaller company that’s not well-known, include a brief description to help the recruiter understand your background. If your former employer is well-known and your recruiter will understand what they do, you can skip it. 

4. Objective statements 

Objective statements/summaries are ok but as mentioned, it must add value. A resume objective is a short, targeted statement that clearly outlines your career direction and positions you as someone who fits what the employer is looking for exactly. An objective statement needs to be tailored and short. It’s a great thing to include if you’re switching career industries and you’re not an obvious applicant for the job i.e. a lawyer switching to journalism etc. Use this space to give the recruiter more detail as to why you’re a perfect fit for the job. If you’re an obvious candidate i.e. Account Manager to Senior Account Manager, then it’s fine to leave the objective statement for the cover letter only.

5. Edit, edit, edit

Your resume should have zero grammatical errors and typos. None. Zilch. When you look at a document for too long it’s easy to miss simple spelling errors or mistakes. So, once it’s ready to review, give it to a family member or friend, or hire a professional to edit it. Check the names of your employers and make sure your experience dates are correct. Simple errors can and will cost you jobs and potentially come back to bite you in the future, as many employers keep resumes on file.

Final thought

Once your resume is ready to go, make sure you have a tailored cover letter to accompany it. A well-crafted, authentic cover letter is just as important as the resume as it demonstrates your ability to research the company and understand what the potential employer will want to see from candidates.

IMPORTANT: Each cover letter must be tailored to the specific company and position and while this may take time, it’ll be the difference between landing the interview, or not.

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