How to make sure your resume makes the cut

How to make sure your resume makes the cut

Did you know that, on average, recruiters, hiring managers and HR staff spend less than 20 seconds (usually 5-7 seconds) on each resume before deciding which pile to put it in? Did you also know that the chances of your CV being read are only 17 per cent?

Frankly, that’s not enough. One could argue that it’s not fair either. Nevertheless, if you are really interested in a position, you should pay attention and spend extra time when building your resume.

Tips for a killer resume

In a nutshell, your resume is your entry ticket. It needs to be relevant to the position - it has to be targeted. Why, then, do some CVs not make the cut?

 Grammar & Spelling

First things first: make sure your resume is 100 per cent correct in terms of grammar and spelling. There is no excuse for it not to be, and that’s why even one mistake is enough to send your resume to the wrong pile.

There are also cases where words are spelled correctly but are used in a wrong way: "there" and "their" is a classic example. Therefore, proofread your resume carefully. In fact, try this: read your resume backwards! This will allow you to focus on the spelling.

 Unprofessional information

Your resume is a professional document. Thus, in most cases, information about your spouse, your children, your favourite hobby, the name of your dog, etc. should be left out.

Also make sure your email address looks professional, or at least, it’s not something like,, etc. Note that 76 per cent of CVs are ignored if the e-mail address looks unprofessional.

Finally, if there is a picture in your resume - however good you think it might look- remove it! Eighty-eight per cent of CVs are rejected if it contains the photo of the applicant.

 Generic resume

Did you try to make a "one size fits all" resume? Don’t you think that others might have done the same? How, then, will your resume stand out?

Your CV needs to be customised so it makes clear that you are the perfect fit, that you are the candidate they should call.

 Track record

Your resume must not look like a job description, just with plain lists of duties and responsibilities. It must reflect you: specific accomplishments, results and proven record of achievements.

Don’t be afraid to add numbers and other information that clearly present to your future employers your contribution to the previous organisations you worked for.


Some CVs contain long texts full of information, which actually makes it difficult for employers to find the information they need. Consider using bullet points instead - they're more "to the point" and much easier to scan quickly.


Anyone can add "great communicator," "strong leader" or "creative innovator" to his / her resume. However that won’t do the trick, simply because employers tend to ignore subjective information. Present facts to prove you are the right person for the role.

 Social media presence

This has nothing to do with your resume, but your presence on social media and, more specifically, the information you reveal about yourself may get you into trouble.

It’s a hotly debated issue and many - if not most - employees would argue that they should be judged based on their professional rather than on their personal lives.

Nevertheless, 68 per cent of employers look for information about the candidates on Facebook and a shocking 33 per cent of candidates are rejected because employers found something about them online that they didn’t like.

There is no point risking your chances. If there is information out there that you don’t want your parents to see, it is highly likely that your future employers would have the same reaction.

Final thoughts

I’m sure you have thought or read about some of the above points. However, in today’s job market the competition is fierce. Just think that 427.000 CVs are posted on Monsterboard every week!

Make sure you pay attention to detail and ask for professional help if necessary. There is no reason to miss out on that great position just because your resume didn’t make the cut.

Good luck!

Rob van Zoelen helps people who are looking for (new) jobs with his resume writing services. For more information, please comment below or visit Quality Resume Services.

Important note: All the statistics in this article are from "Confessions of the Recruitment Industry 2012" by behiring. Please note that these are general guidelines and you should always investigate the culture of the company you are applying for and adjust your CV as necessary.


Rob van Zoelen


Rob van Zoelen

Senior Resume Writer with a solid track record in the staffing industry (recruitment) having served small, large, national and international companies in many industries including biotech, retail, bodycare and others.

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