With over 12 years’ experience in recruitment, Ashita Thomas has seen a lot of resumes – both the good and the bad. She shares her top tips for crafting a killer resume and harnessing its potential as a marketing tool for your professional brand.

If you Google ‘how to write a resume’, you get 330 million hits telling you which fonts to use and how to best layout your work experience. As a recruiter, who looks at hundreds of resumes each week, I can’t help noticing that the result of all this advice is everyone’s resumes now look incredibly similar.

But when you’re trying to convince an employer to hire you, why would you want to blend into the crowd? Plus, given our current situation and the influx of online applications, you wouldn’t want your resume to drown in a sea of PDF file and Word document attachments.

The purpose of a resume is to grab the reader’s attention and inspire them to read more. According to a recent survey, the average recruiter spends 7.4 seconds looking at your CV. To be honest, that makes me feel a bit incompetent—I, as well as my other colleagues, spend heaps longer than that when reviewing the resumes and applications we receive. But I can see what the survey is getting at. When recruiters are sorting through resumes, that first scan can be pretty quick – and, sometimes, it’s done by a software bot.

So, here’s my advice for surviving the first scan and increasing your chances of a recruiter picking up the phone:

Beat the bot
If you’re applying to a big company, your resume may pass through application tracking software, which doesn’t like embedded charts, artwork, images or tables. So, use a clean, simple design and send your resume as a PDF. In Word, if you use a fancy font that isn’t installed on your recruiter’s computer, all your careful formatting could be messed up.

Make the most of your ‘prime real estate’
This is the top half of your resume – the bit readers see on screen before scrolling down. Use it to provide a compelling career overview with your years of experience and top achievements. Don’t waste this critical space by putting your name in large font or including your objective or contact details. Those can go at the bottom of your first page.

Customise your resume for the role
Most candidates think they can use the same resume for every job because it’s just a summary of their work experience. In fact, your resume is a marketing tool for your individual brand. Just as Amazon personalises its offers, you need to customise your resume. Read the job description and only include information that shows you have the skills and expertise required for the specific role you’re applying to.

Leave them wanting more
In your employment history, rather than listing your responsibilities in each role, demonstrate how you made a difference in each company. Use brief examples but don’t over-inform the reader. You want recruiters to be sufficiently interested to pick up the phone. And if you can include metrics to summarise your impact – do! Show, don’t tell.

Be authentic
Highlight your achievements, but don’t over-sell yourself. Phrases like: ‘highly efficient’ or ‘a great people person’ are just your opinions. Give examples that show these qualities rather than just claiming them. Show your resume to someone you trust to check it makes sense and sounds real.

Check your social media
If a recruiter is interested in you, their first stop will be social media. Your resume should already include links to blogs or websites that position you as a leader in your field. But be careful to check what else they’ll find:

  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile lines up with the facts in your resume
  • Google yourself to ensure there aren’t any embarrassing photos or videos that appear
  • Create a professional email address. It’s adorable that your Gmail handle is ‘orangefrog’, but create one with your actual name when seeking work.

Triple-check for accuracy
Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation to ensure what you’ve written is clear and professional. Avoid jargon and waffle. Use short sentences and simple language. Make sure your phone number is correct!

What not to include

  • Photos – Companies like Accenture are anonymising CVs (no photo, name or personal pronouns) for certain roles to avoid bias, so don’t make it harder by including a photo.
  • References – The recruiter will ask you for these if they’re interested. If you include them, there’s a risk they may contact your referees before you have time to give them a heads up.
  • Testimonials – We know you wouldn’t include them unless they were glowing. A better option is to have good endorsements on your LinkedIn profile that the recruiter can find when they look you up.
  • Educational scores – Unless you’re a recent school leaver, your 98 ATAR isn’t relevant. Include your highest educational qualification but not your grade point averages.
  • Random courses – If you have a professional qualification the job asks for, include it. But leave out the presentation skills course you did 10 years ago or your certification in Microsoft Office. In 2021, basic computer skills are pretty much a given.

Best of luck with your job search! We hope you will consider Accenture 😊

For more career advice from Accenture recruiters, check out these blogs from my colleagues:

Ready to take the first step to an exciting career journey? Explore your options at Accenture.


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Ashita Thomas

Lead – Early Careers Recruitment

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