Looking to tidy up your CV before jumping back into the job market? We asked two of our specialist recruiters to give their expert tips and advice on how to write a resumeand cover letter that stands out from the competition.
Can a recruiter tell if you have used tools like ChatGPT to write your resume?
We get it - job searching is monotonous enough as it is, and resume writing isn't exactly the most exciting activity. So, if there are tools out there that can write a professional-looking cover letter for you… why wouldn't you try them?
Luke Henningsen, the Victorian State Director for Experis Australia, has certainly noticed that candidate resumes have been sounding different recently.
"We have noticed a general improvement in resumes and cover letters since the release of ChatGPT, so I believe that it is certainly being used," he says. "As for cover letters… Ideally I think it is better if that personality [in your writing] is you rather than the personality of an AI."
Luke believes ChatGPT has its uses for improving your presentation and writing, but it will never be able to take your personal work experience into account.
"A CV must be reflective of your career, so it needs to be true in terms of dates, companies, role titles, [etc.] … if any of these key things have been [fabricated] by AI then that could amount to resume fraud."
What makes a CV standout from an initial glance for a recruiter to continue to read?
Huw Thomas is a consultant within the permanent recruitment arm of Manpower Australia. It is not his first time parsing through hundreds of resumes at a time, either; prior to joining ManpowerGroup, Huw was navigating the high-turnover Hospitality industry as a restaurant manager.
According to him, the secret to having your resume stand out from the crowd is surprisingly straightforward: good formatting.
"[At first glance] I should be able to see their name, contact details, maybe a quick little paragraph about themselves, their skills… and then it goes straight into their experience,” he says. "That engages me."
He believes good resumes should be well-spaced, simple, and no longer than 2-3 pages in length. Each job description should only have three or four key dot points summarising your experience - no matter how long you may have worked there.
"If you can't format and market yourself [in your resume], then how are you going to do it in an interview in front of a client?"
Should you add a photo, graphics or visual enhancements to your resume using programs like Canva or InDesign?
With free and accessible graphic design programs like Canva increasing in popularity, more and more job seekers are adding an extra bit of pizzazz to their resumes. But does it actually increase your chances of landing a role?
Luke believes it really comes down to personal preference, as long as the design does not detract from the substance of your resume.
"Really, your experience should be the focus," he says. "Obviously someone working in graphic design would approach this differently to a Corporate Finance Analyst… [but] there is no right or wrong answer."
Huw has also noticed a new trend around the use of photos in candidate resumes: "5, 6 years ago, if I saw a photo on a CV, I'd [dismiss it immediately], but now it's become more common practice," he says.
"So now I'm okay if you put a photo, but it must be a professional photo - the kind you put on your LinkedIn profile, not your Instagram tag from the weekend."
Should you focus more on my soft skills or relevant work experience in my cover letter?
Cover letters can be a challenge to write, especially when it feels like you're repeating what you’vealready established in your resume. It can be easy to think that a cover letter is just fluff - but that couldn't be further from the truth.
"While your CV should show [your] experience, your cover letter enables you to refine it," Luke notes.
"Anyone can claim that they have 'soft skills' around things like communication and relationship-building… a recruiter will look for and assess those skills at the interview stage."
If you're finding your resume is too long, take some of the extra detailyou've added and move it across to your cover letter. That way, your resume acts as a summary of your work experience, and your cover letter is the elevator pitch that really sells it to a potential recruiter.
What are some extra things I can add to my resume if I don’t have much experience yet?
If you're worried that being inexperienced in a particular field immediately puts you out of the running for a role, don't panic! As long as you meet the minimum qualifications and criteria, you always have a chance.
Don't discount your hobbies and achievements - especially those where you're involved in a team, such as volunteering groups or sporting clubs.
"If you can show me you're active [or] you've got the capability of working in a busy environment… that tells me enough," Huw notes. "I look for any sort of social activity or hobby to show you've got confidence in character."
If you found these tips helpful, keep an eye on our websites and LinkedIn pages for all the best tips, advice, and industry insights from our professional recruitment team!