I counsel university students every day on how to improve their résumé. By far the biggest comment that I hear from them is "who cares what my résumé looks like, isn't it the content that counts?"
Unfortunately that isn't the case. Many recruiters see hundreds of applications and résumés on a weekly basis. A good recruiter is able to quickly scan each one in a matter of 10 seconds(or less) and can determine based on that initial scan if your résumé goes into the "yes" or "no" pile.
What can you do to make your résumé stand out?
First - make it easy to read. No matter how amazing you may be, if you have a résumé that is cluttered or too "wordy", I'm going to look at it and toss it. Read every word of a 2 page résumé? Ain't nobody got time for that!
But there are a few things that you can do that will make your résumé easy to read:
- Use a standard format with the dates separated from the rest of the text so they stand out.
- Tell me what you accomplished rather than what you were "responsible for"
- Use bullet points!
- When you can, use numbers and symbols, these will draw the reader's eyes into your résumé during a quick scan. E.g. Instead of: Consistently achieved sales targets try instead: Met and surpassed sales goals achieving 150% of monthly targets
One other thing; are you a whizz at word processing? I didn't think so, in fact, I know so. When I receive a résumé in a .doc format, I click on the "paragraph" button specifically to see if you know how to format. Usually, you don't. To avoid this, always submit your application using a .pdf file.
Spelling counts too!
You can thank my grade 3 English teacher, but I am a stickler for proper spelling. I have seen many applications get tossed because of 1 spelling error. Use spell check and have a friend proofread your résumé before you send it in.
This is one of my favourite misspellings:
Strong attntion to details