Leverage your Resume: Become a Star Candidate

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By Bob McIndoe

Most recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals can tell you that when it comes time to collect resumes for an open position, the task can be a daunting one.

Depending on the position, HR can receive dozens – even hundreds – of applications for just one job opening.

Sifting through that intimidating stack of resumes is a time consuming, often boring chore.  Recruiters quickly become adept at determining whether the “fit” characteristics are there.

The bottom line of the whole equation is this: if your resume isn’t a stand-out, it’s quite likely to be passed over without a second glance. HR talent professionals are skilled at developing a short list of candidates based on a speedy initial resume scan, so creating a resume that can pass that initial scrutiny is crucial.

Before we get too specific, it’s important to mention that resumes with errors – spelling, grammatical or factual – will likely be discarded straight away. So it’s vital to proofread your resume thoroughly – and it never hurts to ask someone to proofread it for you as well (a second set of eyes can only help catch what you may have missed).

Now, assuming that all of those basics are in order, here is a strong strategy for a resume that will stand out to recruiters.

STAR resumes are resumes that are built around this simple acronym:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Results.

In a STAR resume, you don’t simply list vague attributes such as “leader” or “problem-solver.” Instead, you rely on the old writer’s standby: Show, Don’t Tell.

Of course, list your pertinent past work experience, but limit the space you spend on that. Devote much of your resume real estate to showing what you have accomplished, and how.

For instance, briefly describe a situation you faced in the past, explain how you addressed it, and include tangible results from your actions. Were you tasked to handle the closure of a 300+ employee company in a jurisdiction with a tricky employment law landscape? Explain the challenge you faced, how you overcame it, and what the results were. Did you design (or assist in) a new position classification system for a 900-employee organization? Say so in your resume, providing STAR details.

A list of past positions is relevant, don’t get me wrong. But to truly make your resume stand out, it’s important to be specific and to highlight in quantifiable terms those accomplishments you’ve delivered in the past.

Yes, recruiters can read all about your job history – but they won’t.  What they’re truly interested in is what you’re capable of delivering. If your resume offers that insight, chances are good it could jump to the top of the short list pile.


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