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On the surface, writing a resume doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. After all, it’s just a list of your previous job experience, right? How hard could it be?

But if you’re one of the millions of people who’ve sent countless job applications and received little (or no) response, it could be time to reevaluate your strategy. Learning how to write a resume will help gets you noticed—for the right reasons.

The importance of a well-written resume is one of the most overlooked parts of the job hunting process. Sure, a successful interview may be what actually lands you the job, but it’s not what gets your foot in the door. That comes down to a single page that the average recruiter spends just five to seven seconds looking at. If you want more than those few seconds, it’s essential to know how to write a resume that catches their attention—and holds it.

Chris Frost, founder and APAC CEO of Cogs Agency, joins us to share what recruiters like himself want to see when they review resumes. Here are some red flags recruiters look for, common myths to avoid, and other tips for how to write a resume tailored to the job of your dreams.

“Putting your CV in front of the right person, you’re going to maximize your chance of gettng an interview.”

Chris Frost

Transcript:

What are the biggest resume red flags?

Chris Frost:

If we talk about . . . the problems within CVs generally that can turn off employers, [there are] obvious things like too much information. If you can’t get your CV on to two pages, or one page if you’re junior, you’re probably saying too much. There’s too much repetition. So when you read the content of the CV, you’re kind of repeating the same skills and experience.

I think some things to be aware of when you’re creating a CV is making it relevant to the role. You’ve got to think about the person that’s reviewing your CV and convey your experience and skills quickly and succinctly enough for them to be able to absorb what you could do for their organization. Bear in mind that the hiring manager is probably going to review thirty to fifty CVs for a role. And if your CV is too long, has spelling mistakes, is not clear that you have the right experience to be able to take on the role, they might immediately move away from your profile and put you in the maybe or the no [pile].

So tailoring your CV and really checking for things like spelling mistakes, formatting errors—these are really basic things that are a massive turnoff to hiring managers. Putting the right CV in front of the right person, you’re going to maximize your chance of getting an interview.

What are some common resume myths?

Frost:

I often read CVs that will say a variation of, “I’m team playing, go getting, problem solving, with great attention to detail.” And I’ve just spent three minutes really not learning anything about the person at all and just reading a bunch of words. And so I think the idea of a personal statement on a CV is a little dated.

It . . . could be replaced with either a personal mission that’s genuine about what I’m looking to achieve in my career [or] what I’d be looking for within the company I’m applying to. Remove some of those more conflated, expansive words about how wonderful and great you might be.

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How to write a resume that stands out

Frost:

I think when you’re creating a CV, you need to write with some authenticity and be clear about your experience and skills. The older view is, “What can I say to this employer in the interview and through my document that’s going to get me the job?” And so I’ll be using these expressions, like “team player” and “great time management.” But really, whilst they’re kind of relevant, they don’t tell you very much about the individual.

So the idea of being clearer in your CV about where your skills lie and what you’re good at—and being more authentic—I think has a greater attraction for employers and will separate you from those other profiles that have used more generic and obvious soft-skill expressions that everybody seems to have on their CVs.

Are basic PC skills worth listing?

Frost:

Whether you should include basic PC skills on your CV—I think it’s a given that most people now have those skills. And again, it comes down to putting content on there that is relevant and interesting. And if 20% of your content is about skills that everybody is expected to be able to have, you know, using Microsoft Word or being able to use email packages—these are givens. Including that as a kind of hard skill [is] probably irrelevant.

Obviously, if you’ve got more advanced skills with software packages—maybe in Excel you can create complex code to be able to do sums—then absolutely, you should mentioned those. But you wouldn’t put down, “I can use Microsoft Excel” because I think it would be a given that anybody that’s worked in an office or been to school probably would have those skills and experience already.

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