How do you make your resume stand out? Especially when you know the hiring manager is receiving tons of applications. Many conflicting recommendations concerning the right way to write your CV exist, both online and offline.
Your application is the first impression you make on the recruiter. Statistics show that 95% of CV’s are usually thrown out, this is for failing to make an impression on the recruiter. Thus, you ought to make your application count, or else it joins these statistics.
Tips for writing a winning resume
So you have seen a job advertisement running and it fits what you are looking for. First thing is to read the requiements for the job at hand, make sure you read everything carefully.
What is going to follow is to carry a SWOT analysis on yourself. The main aim of this SWOT analysis is to examine where you want to be. You are supposed to ask yourself these two critical questions
“Who am I ? “
“Where do I fit best ?”
To answer these two questions especially the second one you’ll have to carry out further investigation on the organization that is recruiting. Research whether the culture of the organization fits in with who you are as an individual. Your answers to these questions should be in the focus of the job description on the job advertisement.
Finally, after finding out the answers to these fundamental questions you may proceed to apply for that position.
Your application will consist of two parts
- The CV
- The Cover letter
Rule of thumb here is :
Do not have a one size fits all CV
Each and every CV you send in your application should be tailor-made for the position that you are applying for. You can have a foundational CV that compellingly articulates the most important information.
Your point of reference as you format your CV for the application is the Job Description (JD) on the advertisement. Take note of the Keywords in the JD and ensure you use them in your CV. I don’t mean using these keywords haphazardly. You have to think carefully about what to say and how to say it so the hiring manager thinks “This person can do what I need done.”
Formatting your CV
You need a summary up top. The first few sentences of your CV are critical, these are about the first 15- 20 words because this about how long you have the recruiter’s attention. The anatomy of this paragraph should consist of a job title e.g “Cybersecurity specialist who….” It doesn’t matter if this is the exact job title you have but it should match what the recruiter is looking for. For this section also avoid cliche’s like “highly motivated professional”.
Adding your education after your summary is important, however, it’s not a must, you can reserve this section for the last part especially if it’s a business-related resume. Remember to keep this section short, most preferably in point form so as to make it easy for the recruiter to scheme through.
Adding an accomplishment section right after your education makes the bridge between your experience and the job requirements. These are the main points you want to get across that will make the reader sit up straight and say “Holy Cow!”.
After the accomplishments section lists your employment history and related experience. By this time you should have already started to convince the recruiter that you’re capable of doing the job required. It is tempting to list every job, accomplishment, volunteer assignment you’ve had but don’t. If you have expertise in software for example make sure to include it in the experience section. If it’s a drop-dead requirement ensure you include it in the uppermost section i.e the summary.
Highlighting your accomplishments is especially important in today’s tight job market. For example, if you worked through the pandemic and helped your team adapt ensure you highlight such key aspects.
Avoid fancy templates, it’s not about how fancy it looks but rather how clean, elegant, and simple it is. Also remember to save your CV using simple names that won’t put off the recruiter, something like Sally’sCV.
The Cover letter.
Just as the name suggests the cover letter is the cover to your CV. Cover letters have been evolving in the way they are written over the years. From writing a separate sheet of paper to attach to your CV before mailing it or hand-delivering it to the hiring manager.
Nowadays, cover letters should just be sent as an email.
Cover letter emails should be short and concise.
Even before beginning to write this cover letter first of all attach your CV in the email.
So, how are we supposed to format this email that is supposed to be our cover letter?
A cover letter consists of 3 sections
- The subject line
- The body
- Signing off
The Subject line
You should never miss writing the subject of the email of your cover letter. Before writing the subject first of all refer to the advertisement to check whether there are specific instructions on how to write it since you’ll find most recruiters include instructions on how to write the subject header of the email. If it’s not included narrow down the subject line to what you’re applying for.e.g
APPLICATION FOR ACCOUNTANT POSITION
This is the main section of the email and of your cover letter. Add the address of the company on the top right section of the body as you would while you address a letter. Include the name of the company you’re applying to and to whom you’re addressing the cover letter to. It’s a rule of thumb to address the letter to the hiring manager.
After this write the salutations Dear Sir/Madam
Begin the main section of the body in this paragraph. State the position you’re applying for, your education, your qualifications and your most relevant experience related to that job.
Following an advertisement for the position of an accountant I saw on a social media platform. I am writing this email to express my candidature. I am a holder of a bachellors degree in accounting from the university of Schnitzel. I am a seasoned accountant with over 6 years experience and i have completed my CPA certifications till section six. I have worked in the industry for many years having previously been employed by Goldman Sachs as the chief accountant in the East African Region.
The next paragraph should outline your soft skills and the things that make you unique. You could pick some of the keywords from the Job description of the advertisement.
I am a well organized reliable friendly and easy to work with fellow. I relate well with fellow colleagues and also step up as a team leader when required.
In the last paragraph, should you explicitly state you have attached your CV.
I have attached my CV outlining my qualifications and experiences for your reference and consideration. Please don’t hesitate contact me for further clarifications.
The final section is the signing off. Its a critical section and you have to include your links and your contacts because recruiters would be at times eager to contact you and it also makes it easier for them.
After making sure everything is okay by proofreading your CV and cover letter, make sure you’ve attached all the documents and have the email address of the recruiter well written before sending.
After sending your application, don’t be so quick to follow up however you could always follow up if you have not received any communication from the recruiters after about two weeks or so.
Finally, remember to apply for job positions early enough to increase your chances of shortlisting.