FROM GRADUATE TO FREELANCER

How to Create a Killer Résumé That Will Get You Hired

Employ these simple tips to open professional doors.

Photo: Bram Naus/Unsplash

How do I communicate my worth to future employers? When they have fifty résumés on their desk; what's going to stop them from throwing mine in the bin?

Your employer manages the gates to your dream job. It’s your job to ensure your CV is the key that swings those gates open.

This isn’t just a challenge for conventional jobs office jobs. As a freelancer who’s constantly on the lookout for opportunities; I’ve had to spend time refining and adapting my résumé to communicate my experiences in a way that gets results.

At a glance, most look the same. Here’s how to make yours jump out and grab its readers' attention.

“Life is our résumé. It is our story to tell, and the choices we make write the chapters. Can we live in a way where we look forward to looking back?” ― Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights

Get the Look Right

Whenever I update my CV I obsess over the content. I want two pages of jam-packed information that communicates my compatibility for the role.

But that’s completely pointless. On average, recruiters look at a CV for 5–7 seconds. When they have over 100 to read, they rarely look at the finer details, skimming it for information that jumps out at them.

You need to prepare for a worst-case scenario and assume that the person on the other end isn’t giving you the time of day. How are you going to impress them in such a short space of time? Simple: by making your CV skim-reader friendly. Do so by:

1. Having an objective statement as an opener

Assume this is the only thing they will read, so make it count. Include a 3 line summary of key points: your experience and why you’re right for the role. Try and make it intriguing so they’re motivated to continue reading — otherwise it’ll end up in the bin.

2. Improve your readabilit

Think general design, font size, and arrangement of content. You might think disorganized sections and inconsistent spacing are only minor, but they could subconsciously influence a recruiter's first impression. If you have a disorganized layout, it’s an indicator that you haven’t paid much attention.

To paraphrase Sophie Macon: “If you can’t even do a decent version for yourself, why would the hiring company believe you can for them?”

3. Get The Length Right

You don’t have all day, and recruiters are testing your ability to keep things concise and engaging. Don’t ramble, use as few words as possible, and keep it to a maximum of two pages; but only if you have that much to say.

4. Use Non-Written Communication

You only have a certain amount of time and words to impress. The aesthetic you choose and the way you present your CV could play its part in making you stand out.

So get creative, and don’t rely on words to highlight how passionate you are.

To give you an example: a friend of mine landed herself an interview at Universal Music Group after she formatted her CV in the style of a Spotify playlist that featured the companies iconic musicians (her post sharing the design has over a thousand Linkedin engagements.)

If you get the design right, a 7-second glance could be enough to get you an interview.

Prioritize Your Experiences

The experiences section is where most of us focus our time and effort. Designed to humbly brag and prove how good we are: describing our past roles and what we did for the job.

But recruiters don’t care about all your experience. Most wouldn’t care that I delivered newspapers at 13, or that I worked in retail until I was 18; as neither highlight why I’m suitable for the role.

Rather than listing random experiences you had years ago, pinpoint which are relevant to the job and highlight your skills. Include those under “relevant experiences,” and bin the rest.

Focus on Impact

When we do talk about our experiences, most of us waffle and list every minor detail about it: describing our daily tasks in our past jobs, and highlighting the things we did with a load of buzzwords. But phrases like “good listener” or “team player” don’t really mean anything.

Very few employers care how you do things; they want to hear what you can achieve. They’re hiring you to make a difference and more importantly: to make them money.

Instead of describing your daily tasks, describe what you accomplished. Give examples of different situations you navigated, or outline the measurable impact of your work.

What About Your Skills?

The same applies when outlining your skillset. Rather than listing off meaningless buzzwords or pointless abilities that don’t relate to the role; carefully pinpoint skills relevant to the role, and outline how they will help you make an impact in the role.

Employers get lied to all the time. They don’t want meaningless sales talk or empty promises. They want proof that you can provide value.

Revise and Perfect Your CV (and Yourself)

Authenticity and accuracy are key for a killer CV. A simple typo or grammar mistake could cost you a job — if you can’t be bothered to proof your piece, why would they hire you over someone who has put more effort in?

Just as importantly, there’s no point trying to lie your way into a job, because recruiters will see right through it. So you need your CV to depict who you are off paper.

While producing an authentic and accurate résumé, keep in mind that:

  • Research indicates one spelling or grammar mistake will result in your CV in the bin.
  • 88% of CVs with a photo of the applicant on are rejected.
  • One in three employers has rejected candidates based on things they’ve found online.
  • 68% of employers will find your Facebook.
  • On average, 76% of CVs are ignored if your email address is unprofessional.

Let this be a sign to only put the effort into applying for roles that are suited to you; because if they’re not, employers will find out online. Just as importantly, remember to brush up your online persona to make it present your best self for when the employers come knocking.

Communicate Your Enthusiasm For the Role

According to the Huffington Post: mediocracy is the new normal. Laziness, a lack of excitement, feelings of entitlement. Look around you — this is the most common trait of the 21st century.

Most applicants won’t have done their research or read up the business website. You’re up against hundreds who have mass sent their generic CV to a number of employers for roles they don’t care about.

To stand out, show your enthusiasm for the role. Why do you want to go into that profession? Do your research: why that company? What sets them apart from every other employer?

Rather than wasting your time mass emailing out a generic CV, pick out roles your passionate about, spend time research and communicating that value in your CV.

Because genuine enthusiasm is rare and will make you stand out.

“Your LinkedIn profile should leave no room for doubt about the kind of job you’re looking for and why you’re the best person for that position.” ― Melanie Pinola, LinkedIn In 30 Minutes

Asking questions, seeking answers. I write articles that help you better understand the Universe and your place in it. Let’s chat → jonhawkinswriting@gmail.com

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