When you hear the saying “a picture tells a thousand words”, this means that a picture can tell a story just as easily as a large amount of text. The same is true about your professional resume. Your resume can tell the reader a lot about the type of person you are and the type of worker you will be.

During one of my earliest roles as a recruiting agent, I was asked to find a shortlist of 5 candidates to fulfill a HR position. The position was an entry level role for a very well known and respected investment bank and although the client had instructed several requirements that they wanted in the right candidate (e.g. Bachelor Degree), the most important aspect was to find a candidate that would be the “right fit” for this company.

We began our search for the candidate by placing a job advert in one of the online job portals. Within 3 hours we had over 150 resumes sitting in our inbox. By the end of the day we had another 400 resumes (at that stage we decided to take the job advert of the Internet). With our client urgently calling us wanting to know how soon they would receive resumes of potential candidates, we had the task of trying to sort through the huge amount of resumes and find the top 5 candidates.

How to stand out from the competition:

First impressions count! It is estimated that a hiring manager or recruitment agent will spend no more than 15 -30 seconds reading through your resume before either deciding to continue reading or pressing delete. Unfortunately there is not one secret that will guarantee your resume will stand out from the competition, but there are many factors that will get your resume deleted. In my experience the first thing I look for in a resume is professionalism.

Spelling Mistakes and bad grammar:

It is an unforgiveable sin to have any spelling errors on your resume. Spelling mistakes and bad grammar send out a negative signal that that the candidate is careless, does not take pride in his or her work and lacks the professionalism that the client demands. Without even reading through more of the resume I would delete this resume.

Layout and Presentation:

It is an undisputed fact that if a hiring manager has two resumes sitting on the table, they are instinctively going to be drawn to the resume that is professionally presented and easy to read. No matter what the resumes say, the first impression is already made. If both candidates share similar skills and experiences, just take a guess at which resume the hiring manager is going to choose.

When you sit down to write your resume, remember one thing. Your resume is your representation. This 2-3 page document is all you have to prove to the hiring manager that you are the right person for the job.  Present a professional picture and make sure that you stand out above your competition.


© RedStarResume Publications – www.redstarresume.com


During the last decade, RedStarResume has successfully written hundreds of professional CV's for candidates across the globe. From the student or entry level position to the CEO, our unique, custom-made CV's are written specifically to match the goals and desires of our clients and to help them land jobs


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Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 9, 2011 at 3:09pm

What does how you read a résumé, with its PLUS and MINUS factors, say about you...the recruiter?

Some recruiters boast that they can read a résumé in less than 10 seconds…in 6 seconds say some.  Are these speed demons actually reading a résumé?   What percentage of top talent falls through the cracks based on speed reading recruiters?  Efficiencies can have a downside.



Comment by Jeff on October 11, 2011 at 10:13am

I like Gavin's emphasis on first impressions here.  It is really remarkable when you think about the long term effects that your resume presentation will have on your life and career.  But I think that it is important to remember that there will always be an inherent difficulty in predicting the nature of this impression in the case of individual resume reviewers.  Taste is subjective, and a layout that might appeal to one person may not appeal to another.  Just because your resume as a "designed look" does not mean that it will necessarily be preferred by a given individual.

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on October 11, 2011 at 10:22am
I always tell candidates that a resume is an ad for yourself.  Simple as that.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 11, 2011 at 10:53am


Recruiter beware:  A clean and polished résumé is very much like a clean and polished interviewee--both can be misleading.

Ever see a proven criminal in court with an equally clean and polished lawyer?  Looks, first impressions, can be deceiving.

Turning Le Mon Aide into a Plum can be done.

Comment by Chris Wallingford on October 11, 2011 at 3:21pm

I agree with all points here, especially as they pertain to the resume.  There is no excuse for a poorly formatted resume and spelling/grammatical errors.  As my dad always said: "goods well presented are half sold".  I would be wary of representing candidates who had a less than error free resume.  However,  I will not rule them out.  Our job is to spend more than 15 seconds on a resume.  Our job is to meet with these candidates especially when my client company is looking for "the right fit".  Check out this link for more on why you may be leaving $$ on the table by dismissing a resume with a spelling error:  

Comment by Gavin Redelman on October 11, 2011 at 5:33pm

One of the very first lessons I ever learned about resume writing is that the resume is a marketing document and the purpose of the resume is to market all the value added skills you can bring to your next job

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 11, 2011 at 5:59pm

You got to accentuate the positives, "de-emphasize" the negatives.  I took some license from the song by Johnny Mercer.

But it holds true.  Recruiters look at where you've been before they look at what you've done.  Because recruiters know which companies are known fror hiring A players and which aren't.

So, if you've got a good pedigree, highlight that.  If you don't highlight your other strengths.  


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