Resumes, CVs, Curriculum Vitaes… call them what you wish… we have all written them, and a lot of us have sweated, edited, cut and pasted and tried to somehow put ourselves down on the page. Clearly, unless you have Steven King powers of writing, this is no easy task. As recruiters we’re often asked how to make a resume stand out and be the one that gets the call out of potentially hundreds of similar documents. While there is no simple answer to that questions, in this post I will look at the classic resume mistakes that we see on a regular basis.

With the rise of LinkedIn you could argue that you don’t need a formal resume anymore so I reckon that the following points apply to your LinkedIn profile as well

At this stage I also need to point out that these opinions are based purely on my experiences (and the 3 colleagues who happened to be at their desks when I asked them).  Thus, there is no pure science to this, just lots of time spent looking at heaps of CVs.

Photos – yes, these are the norm in some areas (for example South East Asia) but for a lot of us these are a definite no-no. I’m not interested in what you look like and actually, by including it on your resume you are potentially opening up a whole can of worms so please don’t go there.

Adding Unnecessary Qualifications – if relevant, then absolutely, but if you’re in your 30s then we’re probably not that bothered by what grades you got in High School. Same goes for your Open Water PADI certificate. Your love of scuba may come out in later discussions but unless you’re interviewing for a Dive Master role then it is taking up unnecessary space.

Professional Memberships – see above. I once received a resume that listed the local library and gym under Professional Memberships. Didn’t get the job.

Font – you may well be trying to show personality but when reviewing multiple resumes, an out-there font just makes it hard to read and makes recruiters cranky… especially if it is Wingdings.

Inspirational Quotes – no further explanation required.

Length – most countries have different opinions on this one, but here in Australia I would say no more than 3 pages. Anything more, and you’re going into too much detail. Years ago, I was told that the aim of the resume is to get you to the interview – it’s the appetiser to get to the main course. Aim to provide enough information, but keep some back for the interview. Also, if you are a new grad, you don’t need to fill 3 pages – don’t make the length inversely proportional to your experience.

Email Addresses – yes, the email address that you set up years ago may be memorable and give you a laugh but when using it on your resume take time to think twice. Sixbeersbeforebreakfast@aussiemail.com does not inspire confidence (I did make that address up but it may well be true…)

Story – whilst it may be tempting to unleash your creative story telling skills, remember that most recruiters review hundreds of resumes and are looking for clear, concise facts which are well laid out. A lengthy explanation of your history written out as though it is biography doesn’t help.

Talk to anyone involved in recruitment and I’m sure that you’ll get plenty of other opinions and ideas. Everyone has their own preferences, which admittedly makes it tough; however in my experience, if you at least consider the above, then you’re on the right track. Good luck writing and may your resume be the one that stands out from the crowd!

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