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How to write the perfect resume for a tough job market

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Jobseekers need to focus on three key factors to make the shortlist in today's competitive job market, according to recruiters.

Hays recruiters spoke to more than 1100 employers and found 51% nominated industry experience as the key factor that helps candidates stand out from the crowd right now.

This was closely followed by cultural fit (50%) and a good CV with relevant experience (39%).

how to write the perfect resume

"Employers are less willing to take a chance on someone at the moment, so you need to make sure you highlight relevant applicable industry experience on your CV," says Hays Australia managing director Nick Deligiannis.

"There are lots of ways you could quantify and prove the relevance of your experience, for example, you could state the percentage increase in new sales, clients or website visitors you were responsible for, the number of team members or project you've managed or the volume of work you delivered in a given timeframe.

"Cultural fit is essential too, which is why it's important to research a hiring organisation's culture and values then share in your CV and in an interview examples that demonstrate how your way of working is aligned with theirs."

Writing an awesome resume

Simone Mears, director of recruitment specialist Profusion, says a resume should be considered a sales tool - it's not a position description, it's a branding document.

"Having an awesome resume that clearly sets out what you've delivered, been responsible for, and can convey the scope of roles you've done is an important communication tool," Mears says.

"CVs that are full of tasks like a position description won't get you an interview even though the information might be correct."

Deligiannis says one way to prove the relevance in your CV is to add quantifiable evidence.

"Employers today want proof that you could do the job well," Deligiannis says.

"Recruiters are looking at how much experience you have: tenure in organisations, commensurate experience.

"They aren't willing to take a chance on an unproven performer, which is why it's important to demonstrate the relevance of your experience and the value you could bring their organisation.

"Ultimately, impactful numbers are very compelling in the context of a CV and allow you to undeniably prove that your experience makes you right for the job.

"The staff retention or promotion rates within your team, the number of stakeholders you've worked with, the number of projects delivered ahead of time, the impact of process improvements you've made, the number of meetings you chair, any cost or time reductions achieved or the number of new skills or awards you've received are other examples."

Making your resume clear

If you're worried that past job titles may not convey your experience clearly, you can change the title of a previous role to make it easier to understand as long as it doesn't misrepresent your job or your seniority, Mears says.

"It's important to be honest but also convey your experience in a way that will attract the attention of internal talent teams or recruiters," she says.

If you are writing your own CV, Mears suggests writing a first draft and then asking for feedback from three people you know who have hiring experience.

"It might be your boss, or a recruiter, or you might talk to a friend who has recently been successful in securing a new role," Mears says.

"In this market, more than ever, you have to be proactive - talk to everyone you know who got a job in the last 12 months and ask as many people as possible."

Hays has a free CV template on their website www.hays.com.au/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-write-a-resume

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Julia Newbould is a financial writer and commentator with a background in journalism. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.
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