Finding Your Ideal Job 101 – Resume Formatting (Part 3 of 8)


This article is part three of a series of articles that will help you get your ideal job. From developing a professional resume to acing an interview, this series will help you understand what it takes to get hired in a competitive job market.

How recruiters evaluate your resume

The best way to write your resume is to think like an employer. Ask yourself, “If I were hiring for this position, what would I want to see on an ideal resume? What training and experience would make or break an application?” Or better yet, research it by talking to an actual employer in your industry.

As the Managing Director of an international recruitment agency, my team and I have a great affinity for the “perfect resume.” Now let me clarify, the “perfect resume” is not some magic document that gets you the job, rather, it is the document that gets you noticed.

For any company that has a hiring process, the expected response rate for a single job posting is anywhere between 100–1000 resumes. This means that on a good day, my team and I filter through thousands of resumes. In most cases, this is the easy part because, for every 100 resumes we get, 90 of them usually fall into one of these categories:

  1. Not professional
  2. Skills and experience not relevant to the job
  3. Not well organized


A resume can tell a hiring manager a lot about who you are

If your resume is fraught with spelling errors, doesn’t get to the point, and is very difficult to read, you can expect it to end up in what my team calls the “Better Luck Next Time” pile.

The “perfect resume” is any document that doesn’t fall into the 3 categories I’ve mentioned above. Ensuring that your resume is professional, relevant, and organized will usually get it placed into the pile for further evaluation. Which means, if your skills and experience match the job requirements, you should be getting a call sometime soon with a request for an interview.

Here are a few points on how to get your resume in the right pile:

1. Read the submission instructions carefully

I’m often amazed at how the simplest instructions that are outlined in a job posting are ignored. No matter how well-qualified you are, if you ignore requests for specific subject lines, submissions in a specific file type, or the inclusion of other documents with the resume, you’ll be filtered out. Spend time going through the instructions for submissions and double check everything before you press send.

2. Organize Your Resume According to the Requirements

Organizations usually spend quite some time writing out the job’s qualifications so make sure that you go through them carefully. Your resume should read much like a checklist of the skills and experiences listed in the job post.

Choose between a functional format or a chronological format as required. A chronological resume outlines your skills and experience according to your past jobs listed in chronological order. A functional format focuses more on your qualifications and is organized according to your skills and experience, not your job history. Both are generally acceptable, so ask yourself which is best for the position and your qualifications.

3. Short, Concise and to the Point

One of the things we’ve noticed lately is the increasing rate of resumes and cover letters that read like a book. I recently received a resume that was extremely well organized. It had listed all the skills and experience that the job was looking for. However, the job summaries in the resume encompassed 4 pages. That might be required for a senior corporate position, but it was much too long for an international marketing coordinator. After reading through the first page, I could not get a comprehensive view of this person’s job history. After a quick glance at the remaining pages I had to put this one in the “Better Luck Next Time” pile.

Resumes can be long if your past job history is long, but make sure that everything important is on the first page. Remember, hiring managers go through hundreds of resumes a day and usually allocate less than 5 minutes to read resumes.

4. A Bullet List of Your Top Skills

Adding a bullet list of skills at the top of your resume ensures that hiring managers can quickly assess your skills and experience at a glance. Try to use keywords in your bullet list that are relevant to the job, or the industry. A good practice is to take some of the keywords that are in the job description, particularly required skills and technical expertise, and integrate them into your bullet list.

5. Give Yourself a Title and Some Brief Keywords About Your Career Expertise

Whenever I sent out my own resumes, I always gave myself a professional title. Why? I felt it put my skills, experience and career history into context. Like a novel, a good title sets the tone and expectations of the reader.

Don’t include a title that is beyond your current expertise. Rather, research where your years of experience place you in the current job market and choose accordingly. Once you’ve done that, underneath your title, include some relevant keywords associated with your title. For example, my title is “Managing Director of International Recruiting” and my title-associated keywords are: International Hiring, Senior Human Resources Manager, and Strategic Staffing and Organization.