29 Sep 2020
5 tips to make your CV stand out
I have been working in recruiting for the past 12 years now, accumulating experience from being a headhunter to an in-house regional recruiting manager across industries covering film, animation, visual effects, logistics, professional services such as management consulting.
I started coaching resume writing and giving career advice 2 years ago when I was taking my sabbatical, traveling across Europe and Latin America. Although my main job today is running my own HR and recruiting consulting firm focusing on startups and small businesses, I am still coaching as my side gig. I really enjoy it as I can see the positive impacts I could make in others’ lives. I have coached more than 120 students and working professionals with very different backgrounds, partnering with companies such as Dynamite Jobs and others that share common ground in what I do and believe.
Based on my experiences from working as an in-house recruiter and an external career coach, I have concluded that these 5 factors could make your resume stand out tremendously hence maximizing your chances of being invited for an interview.
1) Focus on impacts and results, but not what you did.
One of the most common mistakes I have observed is that everyone writes about what they do/did but not many candidates write about what impacts they have made/achieved. It is also not uncommon that candidates just copy and paste their Job Description (JD) onto the CV. This is the first thing I push and guide my clients on: try to think of the impacts and achievements you have had done during that role, then try to quantify the impacts and results with data.
The best scenario is to make every bullet on your resume with impacts and results. You will for sure “wow” the recruiters even if you don’t fill up your one-page CV.
- Before: Led project for the company and presented recommendations.
- After: Won a 2-year contract and expanded the relationship with a client by leading a project where I also presented multimedia recommendations including market research findings and strategy.
2) Add in details, make it juicy!
“Less is more” should always be the guiding principle in writing your CV. The more you write, the more diluted your CV content is. However, you can’t expect the recruiter to understand the nature of your job and company. Therefore, you should add in any detail that makes your CV “juicy”. Note that I don’t mean any descriptive or flowery words, which actually don’t add much value while taking up space. Details that help recruiters to understand the nature of your work, scale, scope of the project, and time frame would be the right information to add.
- Before: Created content calendars for clients.
- After: Created SEO-focused content calendars for 3 clients and the company’s internal content calendar; helped increase one client’s organic blog traffic by 100% (from 15k to 30k) over a 5-month period.
3) Place the most important and relevant information first:
On average, recruiters make a YEA or NAY decision within 10 -20 seconds. Most of the recruiters read from the top to the bottom, so ensure that you place the most important and relevant information on top / first.
For example, if a company is looking for an experienced recruiter with a tech background, the first bullet in the Summary (assuming you write the Summary session first) should be something like this:
A total of 8 years of recruiting experience including 6 years in tech companies (e.g. Google and Amazon) with a track record of hiring more than 1000 roles such as software engineers/developers, data scientists, UX/UI designers.
4) Keep it simple so that your grandparents can understand.
Don’t make assumptions that recruiters will understand everything about what you do or the industry. You never know if the recruiter is new to the company or the industry. To play it safe, always ensure that you write your CV in a way that everyone understands. If you have to use any jargon, acronyms, or any technical terms, then try your best to explain them by either spelling the acronyms out or add a short generic term after. E.g. instead of using VFX, write it as Visual effects.
5) Add X-factor
Everyone is unique, so you want to add that uniqueness about you on the resume to make it stand out. Things such as interests or hobbies, or anything you are proud of it, go ahead and add it to the end of your CV.
For example: if you are good at presenting, make a video about yourself, and attach the link. If you are good at writing, add the link to your personal blog. If you have conquered the 7 summits of the world, never be shy about writing that. It can help you to draw the line between TMI (too much information) and the x-factor.
Of course, there are other areas you need to work on to make a high-quality CV, such as formatting, visual, grammar, and length, etc. However, if you improve the above-mentioned 5 areas, you are more than halfway to a perfect resume.
About Melody Chen:
Melody Chen is currently our partner coach for the CV review services. She has been running her own Recruiting and HR consulting firm based out of tropical island country Singapore, POP Partners. She is passionate about the topic of remote work.