Do you know what recruiters are looking for in a resume?

Writing a resume can be a daunting task, but it is an essential part of most employer's recruitment and selection processes. Condensing your entire professional life into a few sheets of paper can seem troubling, but what about when you have little or no experience? How does a new graduate communicate their potential value to employers using just their resume?

Competition for applicants to stand out amongst the piles of other resumes is higher than ever. So we're going to go over some of the most common forms of resumes to help you figure out which format will get you en route to landing in your future employer's "yes" pile.

A stand-out resume will help you get more interviews.A stand-out resume will help you get more interviews.

Functional vs. traditional resumes

Traditional (or chronological) and functional (or skill-based) resumes are both common practice. Often we are told that traditional resumes are more appropriate for longer careers where the order of roles, responsibilities, development and progression is the key strategy used to communicate job suitability. On the other hand, functional resumes are often seen as being more appropriate for graduates or people looking to change their industry as they highlight transferable skills and appropriate knowledge.

However, in a 2013 study from Singapore, Researcher Aileen Ng and her colleagues found that the advice and recommendations given in business communication text books does not reflect what is currently going on in the industry.  If we look back to a 1993 study published in the Journal of Applied H.R.M. Research, analyst Cheryl Toth found that neither chronological nor functional resumes were preferred by HR managers. In fact, a third type showed its face as superior – the psychological resume.

Taking a psychological approach

This formatting technique involves getting into the mind of your recruiter and thinking about what they want to see, not what you want to tell them. They do not want to read an essay on you – they want the facts hard, fast, and ready to digest.

Recruiters only spend about six seconds initially looking over a resume.

A 2012 study from US career and recruitment specialists The Ladders found that the generally accepted notion that a recruiter spends five or six minutes reviewing a resume is actually more like five or six seconds. Thus, visual appeal is paramount, but writing for navigation is more so. Within this "glance", 80 per cent of recruiters try to focused their attention on the applicant's name, place of employment and work history including key dates and education. 

By combining aspects of the traditional and functional approaches in a way that marries logical organisation with practical skills, you will develop a resume that is both easy to follow, comprehensive and concise.

If you're wanting to know more, check out our guide to writing a winning resume on the right-hand panel and submit it online today.