The great Resume debate


Having spent the last 15 years as a recruiter, I’ve calculated that I’ve viewed over 17,250 resumes. If you are interested, I’ve calculated that on average I view 5 resumes a day. I work, on average, around 230 days a year so during my 15-year career, that amounts to 17,250. This, coupled with the fact that I’ve worked across multiple industries and countries, means I’ve become somewhat of an expert on resumes.

Naturally, I get asked a lot what makes a good one, so here are my thoughts:


This is somewhat of a contentious issue as I never read these. They are subjective and I’m solely interested in facts when I view a resume. However, it is standard practice to have one so I would recommend you include one. When writing one focus on facts not subjective statements. “Goal driven”, “creative thinker”, “can do attitude” are all jargonistic and impossible to quantify. Focus on your key skills specific to the role you are doing and also conclude by explaining what you are looking for and why you are looking.  

Outcome / achievement focus 

This is the area where most people fall short. Your resume isn’t a collection of job descriptions yet many people simple state their responsibilities under each role. If you are hiring a project manager, you don’t need to be told by a candidate what that role entails. What you need to focus on is what you brought to that position. What were your achievements? If you work in Construction, focus on what you built, including the project details. What percentage of your projects came in on or under budget? If you work in Sales, what was your territory? What were your target attainment figures? What clients did you win? This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Where possible, align this to the role / company you are applying to. Finally, don’t be shy to blow your own trumpet. No one else will! Be proud of your achievements and make sure you that the reader knows how awesome you are!

Don’t be too clever

Allow your experiences and achievements speak for you. Don’t over complicate your resume with fancy boxes, graphics or fancy formats. This just detracts from the content itself and can come across as gimmicky. It also makes life hard for us recruiters, as we will always put resumes in our own format and branding, so boxes make it harder for us to do this!