How To Write A Captivating Resume
9 stupidly-simple tips to landing your dream job
9 stupidly-simple tips to landing your dream job
Quick tip: Say ‘Role’ not ‘job’ in your cover letter / interview. The word job used towards your potential employer suggests you aren’t invested in it.
Over the years I’ve helped countless people improve their resumes to get their dream jobs… or even just ‘A JOB’ depending on their situation.
A young man on work experience with me recently asked me to help him with a resume, and after landing his first paid job last week, I decided to write this blog for YOU.
Now I’m not claiming to have the best resume ever, but just as the girl who wins Miss World isn’t actually the most beautiful woman in the world, she’s just the most beautiful woman to apply… My resume/CV stands in the same zone. It’s the best they’ve seen at the time, but perhaps not the best they ever will see.
My insight into great resumes started by seeing a Steven Stevenson example in Smashing Magazine. It was one page, laid out great, had splashes of colour and was annotated in places. It perfectly suited the jobs he was going for, but not all jobs.
You can see how I’ve applied these rules on my example resume that you can download below. (At the bottom of this page).
RULE #1 — DO NOT EXCEED 1 PAGE
This is the number one rule that almost everyone breaks. Their resume is often two pages and filled with black text on a white page.
Imagine your resume is a duffel bag and there is a fire happening. Fill the bag with only important things but leave the proverbial microwave, it’s not needed.
You can’t expect recruiters to sort through hundreds, or even thousands of applications by reading 2 or more pages of everyone’s resume.
TOP TIP — Lose the personal statement first. Nobody cares if you like long walks on the beach and socialising with friends. You’re punctual? Great. So is everyone else who holds down a job. The wise fisherman only throws in as much bait as needed for the catch.
RULE #2 — YOUR NAME SHOULD STAND OUT
Have your name be the most prominent thing on the page. If a stack of resumes was a flip book, your resume/CV would be the page where the T-Rex eats the butterfly.
Sometimes standing out is as easy as standing out.
Here’s an example from the top of my resume so you can see what’s going on there.
RULE #3 — MAKE SURE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION IS PROMINENT
From the example image above you can see my contact details are very prominent.
The contact information is very important, you want your potential employer to find it very easy to contact you, either by phone, email or post.
Fax is dead and snapchat is unprofessional, so unless it’s relevant to the job, please don’t put your social media links on there.
Why would you want your new boss following you anyway? You were drunk last weekend and now it’s clear that toilet rolls don’t make great hats.
RULE #4 — ADD COLOUR
There are many things that can draw the eye in print. Bold text, different fonts, different font weights, italic text etc.
One of the simplest ways to ensure your resume stands out is little accents of colour.
I like blue as it signifies trust in psychology. That’s why Twitter & Facebook’s logos are blue. Orange is a great one too, it signifies taking action.
On my resume I went with gold as it’s part of my personal branding choices, but for you it could be different.
RULE #5 — CONDENSE EXPERIENCE & SKILLS
As you can see from my resume, the ‘experience in’ and ‘professional skills’ run down the right hand column for ease of reading.
Which example is better?
a. I’m tuned in on the newest adobe creative cloud and can use all applications proficiently.
b. Skills & Expertise = Adobe Creative Cloud.
Both give the same information, but option ‘b’ does it in a much faster way.
Often there is a middleman between you and the job role, a recruitment consultant. That person’s job is to scan through applications to find the most suitable for their client (the employer).
They won’t know the role, they only have cliff notes on what to look for, and often they aren’t paid a fantastic wage, or this task of sifting through resumes is given to the lowest in the office pecking order. Make it easy for them to find you.
You’re basically checking boxes. One tip is to look at what the job is asking for, and then match your skills to their requirements.
eg “We’re looking for a candidate with 2 years experience in Marketing and the ability to work with Excel, Photoshop and Quickbooks”.
Steal those needs and deliver them back to your potential employer on a nice silver platter. If true, now your Skills & Expertise should have bullet points for Excel, Photoshop & Quickbooks as top entries in your list.
You are curating your abilities to make it easier for them to see you’re the best choice.
RULE #6 — DON’T PUT ALL YOUR JOBS DOWN
If you’re 19 and have only had 1 job, then please feel free to ignore this one.
If you’re 28 and have had like 10+ jobs, only put the most relevant/current/recent employment on your 1 page resume.
It’s up to the interviewer to ask you questions about any other previous roles. They aren’t the cops, they don’t need a decade of your whereabouts to sift through.
Often that job you had as a Sales assistant when you were 16 won’t be relevant to the job you’re applying for when you’re 35.
RULE #7 — ONLY PUT RELEVANT QUALIFICATIONS IN
Did you know I have the Frosties Tony The Tiger 1000m swimming certificate? No? Neither do my employers.
It’s not worth listing everything in. Nobody cares that you had a GCSE in Geography if you’re now a mechanical engineer with a degree.
Like a soldier becoming a Sergeant, it’s your highest accolade that matters. So put your best qualification first and if space permits, add some others below.
RULE #8 — LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE
I always add a ‘call to action’ at the bottom of my resume. It maximises my chances of getting a call-back. A call to action is simply a phrase or line of text prompting the reader to take an action. To call or email you.
You can see I’ve written “ Please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.” at the bottom of my resume.
Like the dating game, it’s better to not let every impressive or unique attribute you have to leak out on date 1. Then the mystery is gone.
You need to be great enough to get their attention, but not too overbearing to make them think you’re desperate… or worse, overqualified.
A job is a two way street, never forget that. They need you to perform a service for them, to make more money. You need them to make a living. It’s symbiotic, so never feel like you aren’t worth anything or the need to over-prove yourself.
RULE #9 — THE COVER LETTER IS THE PERSONAL STATEMENT
Anything you wanted to say about yourself personally can be said in a cover letter. I like to see what a job is looking for. If they’re looking for a candidate to start immediately, then put it front and centre in your Cover Letter.
“I believe I have all the skills you’re looking for and exceed the job requirements listed. After recently graduating from University I am able to start this position immediately pending a successful interview.
I look forward to hearing from you and I appreciate you taking the time to consider me for this role.
- Rufus Cortez”
1. Frame everything as a positive. Don’t profess you’re unemployed, instead say you’ve recently left a long-term job and are available for an immediate start, pending a successful interview.
2. Always thank people for taking the time to read your resume and Cover Letter. Everyone loves to feel appreciated.
3. Say things like “I believe I exceed the criteria for a successful candidate” as it’s not a statement of fact, but it’s confident and shows them that you understood what they’re looking for in an employee, and can deliver exactly that.
Here we are… There is no rule #10, this isn’t buzzfeed or some bullshit blog, this is real advice that can’t obviously be spread thinly into nice, round, even numbers.
RULE #9.5 — SEND AS A PDF
In fact, saying that, I could make one more bonus rule… ‘make sure you send it as a PDF’. The amount of misalignment that happens in .docx files when they’re sent from Word on a PC to Pages on a Mac is scary. Not everyone is using the latest versions of all software either, so PDF is the safest bet when sending to multiple recipients.
Often those who think they’re putting their best foot forward will look crazy unprofessional if their resume lands on the desk of the recruiter looking like a 3-year old was in charge of the layout.
99.9% of the time, this will get you in the door… the rest is up to you.
You can download my example resume BELOW and use it as a guide for creating your own Resume or CV today.
My CV/RESUME For Reference…