Describe The Best Resumes You Have Received. Why Did These Stand Out?

Apr 07, 2014 1 Min Read

In HR Talk, we pick one human resources (HR) related topic each week, and gather a few HR experts to share their opinions on it. If you have any questions about the HR industry, send them to us at and we will get our panel of experts to answer them.

This week’s topic:

“Describe the best resumes you have received. Why did these stand out?”

Datin Nancy S Y Sim-Lim – Senior vice-president, human capital, Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd 

Recruiters are one of the busiest professionals in a human resources (HR) team. In large firms with headcounts above 1,000, a team of recruiters could be reviewing close to 10,000 resumes per annum.

A well-written resume could therefore put you way ahead of the game. Overall, the best resumes I have received can be categorised as follows:

1. Tells a good story

Good resumes should be well-written, grammatically-correct whilst telling a good story about the applicant and why the applicant will be a suitable candidate for the role.

It should be engaging, drawing in the reader with strong persuasive copy and pitching just the right amount of information which highlights the applicant’s strengths.

2. Concise and straight to the point

In telling the applicant’s story, it has to be done in a concise-way that allows a busy recruiter during peak periods with high performance targets to look quickly at a glance and decide whether the person has what it takes.

Long-winded resumes with too much garble and that lack substance are a big no-no because recruiters receiving applications from various channels have a short window to go through the numerous applications that pour in.

In essence, good resumes should contain the following: name, address, latest contact details, current role and also name of current and past employers. Academic achievements, awards and also past co-curricular involvement should also be mentioned.

I am not particularly fussed about expected salary and references when I see a resume for the first time. However, I do get concerned when applicants conceal the name of their employers. Your current employer’s brand name is important and you should highlight this.

3. Creative and attention-grabbing

Some applicants go the extra mile by putting more effort in making their resumes more visually attractive or take pains to ensure it is laid out well with good readability.

Some come in bright colours, special paper, are attractive with plenty of images and economical with unnecessary wordiness. Finally, an interested applicant should always write his resume for a specific role and tailor it for the company and industry he is applying to. It would be even better if you could submit your application with a short cover letter addressed to the person in the firm that is entrusted with the duty and care to recruit and interview. Organisations are large entities and wrongly-addressed resumes would simply waste your efforts.

Umasuten Karisnan – Intel Malaysia talent delivery and acquisition manager, Intel Malaysia

Does having the best resume matter? This is the question most of job seekers ask, and you bet it does! Your resume is the first impression you create with potential employers. As such, it acts as a marketing document that entices the reader to read.

In my 17 years of professional career, I have come across some outstanding resumes and today I will be sharing what they are as well some tips to create a memorable impression for your future employers.

1. Keep It Short and Simple (KISS)

First and foremost, the length. As a general guideline, for those with 10 years of experience or less, one page is sufficient. Those beyond 10 years, keep it to two pages maximum. (If you need to go more beyond two pages, prepare a biography.) Trust me you can do it.

Based on studies, a recruiter spends around 10 to 20 seconds scanning through resumes, so keeping it short and crisp helps. You need to think about what the recruiter will visualise as important. Use bullets to amplify the work that you did, one bullet for each accomplishment.

2. Summary of your professional journey

It would be a good start to provide a summary of your professional journey with key words embedded in them. This helps potential employers to assess the suitability of your experience against the needs of the organisation.

The intent is to focus on your attributes and offer insight into your rich experience. Even if it doesn’t meet the needs of that particular business unit, they can always refer you to others who may be looking for similar skills and competencies.

Personally, I love reading the professional summary to get an understanding of the work a candidate has done before deciding on the next step.

3. Focus on accomplishments

Bullet points should highlight your accomplishments and not the roles and responsibilities assigned to you.

I have seen resumes which describe the leadership displayed, the changes brought into the organisation and all other impact the individual has had.

This carries a lot of weight unlike the normal write up of “I am in charge of this” or “I am assigned to do this”.

Whenever possible quantify the accomplishments. If you have optimised, how much have you optimised? Employers are more interested in these than in what you actually did in the job.

My second most important tip is; tell the truth. Yes, integrity is the key essence that portrays your credibility.

Another important aspect about resume writing is doing your homework on the job or company you are applying for as this will help you market the skills and competencies that they are looking for. Select the skills, qualities, accomplishments, and experiences that speak directly to their stated and implied needs.

This will make your resume stand out from the thousands!

If you have any questions about the HR industry, email and we will get our panel of experts to answer them. 

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