1. Know your audience
If you’re applying to a mid or large firm in Sweden, there’s a high chance the person that reviews your resume and decides to call you in for that first interview will be a recruiter.
Bigger companies often use either internal recruiters or external recruiting firms to handle the first part of the hiring process (from resume screening to phone interviews).
When drafting your resume, keep this audience in mind. Recruiters haven’t worked in your field/industry and aren’t familiar with the technical details.
Ask yourself, can someone outside your field read your resume and understand the major take-aways? If you’re not sure, ask a friend outside your field to review your resume. Do they understand your achievements the way you have them written now?
2. Avoid making empty skills statements
What are empty statements? It’s any time you claim to have some kind of skill without being able to back it up. Saying you have “excellent communication skills” or that you’re a “team player” for example.
The problem? First, there’s no reason I should believe you. You haven’t demonstrated that you have any of these skills. It’s better to show people you have skills through the actions and accomplishments you have than just listing them out.
What sounds better to you?
1) Management skills
2) Managed the top performing sales team in the division, increasing year-over-year sales by 10%.
The first one is an empty statement, the second one shows me you have those skills without having to say it. It convinces me you have the skills rather than telling me you have them. It’s much more effective.
You don’t have “leadership skills”, you “led a team of 10 people to successfully implement a new purchasing process”. You don’t have “intercultural communication skills,” you “collaborated with teams in 5 countries.” You get the idea.
3. Add Numbers to your accomplishments
In my example above (“Managed the top performing sales team in the division, increasing year-over-year sales by 10%.“), you may notice something. Namely, that my team increased sales by 10%.
It’s important to give the people reading your resume a quantifiable reference for the things you have done. Increasing sales isn’t the same as increasing sales by 10% or by 10 thousand dollars or by 10 major clients.
Quantifying your points gives weight and credibility to your accomplishments. It makes them sound more impressive because it’s easy for people to understand the magnitiude of the achievement.
If you just say you increased sales, the reader doesn’t know if it’s by $5 or by $5 million. And we’re more likely to default to being less impressed than more impressed.
For every point on your resume, ask yourself if you can quantify this achievement.
If you’re in a role that doesn’t have measurable accomplishments, check out Ask a Manager’s article how can I write a resume when my jobs don’t have measurable results?
4. Keep it to the point
I’m sure many of you have heard the golden rule: you shall not pass 1 page when drafting a resume.
In reality, very few recruiters will throw out a resume because it went above some arbitrary page limit rule. If you have a lot of work experience, don’t be afraid to use a second page if you feel you need it to communicate effectively.
But there’s a reason your resume shouldn’t be too long, and it goes back to knowing your audience. People are busy and they have hundreds of resumes sitting on their desk. They don’t have the time to read a 5-page resume.
Many will scan the first page and stop right there if nothing catches their attention.
That doesn’t mean you should switch to a microscopic font to get everything on the first page. Your resume will have a much better impact if it has fewer – but more meaningful – points.
Ask yourself… What do recruiters really care about for this role? What experience makes you a stronger candidate than the next person?
Recruiters don’t need to know about every skill and every tasks you’ve done. Highlight the important ones and let them stand out by removing the points that won’t help you.
Remember, if someone with 30 years of work history can fit everything on 2 pages, then so can you.
5. Read the job description
Last but not least, read the job description and adjust your resume accordingly.
This should go without saying, but a lot of people skip this step because they’re trying to apply to as many jobs as humanly possible.
But really, it only takes a few minutes to go through the job description to make sure you’ve captured the important points. It’s better to spend the time to adjust your resume than to get skipped over for the role because the employer is looking for a skill you forgot to mention.
This goes doubly if a recruiter is skimming through your resume. They’re looking for someone that matches the job description, including scanning for key words.