(This article was originally published on Vox Advisory)
A lot of clients ask me what is the secret sauce of a resume - what can really distinguish you from the crowd and secure your interview. The internet is full of tutorials and in all honesty, most of them are on the right path - it is all about having a good structure, clear and consistent overview of your career to date and some "add-ons". Well, as someone who used to review 20+ CVs on a daily basis, I can say that there are 5 critical components that can set the bar high for everyone else - now, this doesn't mean that you'll get the job. Every recruiter has a max of 10 seconds to make a judgment call whether to go ahead or reject a candidate based on their resume. Even if the company is using AI (where keywords are everything), the same elements can help you stand out from the rest.
The EU format is outdated, revealing your personality through choosing a format that allows you to focus on your advantages (skills, specific education, hard skills, international experience, etc.). Visuals, links to external pages, emoticons, graphs - think about how can you utilize the space on an A4 page to describe who you are and what you can bring? Loads of free pages like Canva.com can support you in finding the best approach.
2. A proper recap of your career and skills
The "Summary" section is a powerful tool that can help the Recruiter get an initial impression within a paragraph. Think about it as a mini Cover letter that showcases your past, presence and future goals, qualities and achievements. It also demonstrates an ability to summarise your expertise without using buzz words, but rather having a clear picture of your own story.
3. A pattern of choices– educational, professional, personal
The usual "scroll" through a CV is aiming to reveal WHY you have selected this particular path - it's not about consistency always. It is about the type of roles, companies, locations, industries and how these choices have impacted you. How you can implement these learnings into a new environment, what you can teach others or contribute to the business. Every manager wants to hire top performers (A-players), but also unique characters who are making thoughtful choices.
4. Track of record = achievements
People tend to underestimate their success stories - it is easier instead to copy your job specs which is the wrong approach to be honest. Yes, it is important to clarify the scope of your roles, however what matters more is what you delivered: facts & figures speak louder than... well, just words. You need to describe the number of clients, accounts, projects, internal activities you juggled with and how you contributed to your company - through ideas, collaboration, partnership, implementing tools, etc. Even if you are just out of college, talking about extra curriculum activities, group assignments and volunteering can really make a positive impact!
You have to invest time and effort in your CV. And this essentially means NO grammar mistakes, NO generic job descriptions, NO weird formatting. Showing that you care about your story is mission-critical. Get someone to proofread your resume, get a different perspective and feedback. And most importantly - have a positive mindset and believe that the right employer will give you a chance!