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OncoreSeptember 8, 20206 min read

The importance of a good resume

You need to think of your resume as an advertisement, with you being the product for sale.  Your goal is to stand out from the crowd and get hiring managers to buy into what it is you are selling…!

You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression

Hiring managers receive sometimes hundreds of applications for the best roles and research says that the average time spent on looking at each one is just 6 seconds. You HAVE to make a strong, clear first impression. Assess the things that you can see most qualify you for the position and make sure to highlight these, making them easy to find.

Hiring managers are interested in finding out (within those 6 seconds) exactly what you know, what you’ve done and how your skills and experience can be of most benefit to them.

Show measurable experience

Quantifying specific achievements you have had in each relevant role and setting the context of projects gives so much more weight to what you are saying. Employees are highly responsive to measurable and proven value. Detail the specific monetary value achieved, the reduction in costs, the time to complete etc. – as these specifics allow them to better understand the value and impact you and your work can have at their company.

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

Keywords are so important. Often resumes are scanned first by keyword searching recruitment software robots (ATS) before they are even sent to the recruiter to review, in order to filter large pools of candidates quickly.

Read the job description carefully.  Identify the keywords they are asking for in their ideal candidate.  You can then tailor and incorporate the keywords that align to your specific skills into your resume, ensuring those that are the most important are at the top and easy to find. Try to find and use terminology that is relevant to the job and industry you are targeting and always double-check your spelling and grammar.

Yvonne Kelly (Director of NPA and founder of Glow Up Careers) advises

“You really need to be constantly keyword optimising in the current marketplace, to make sure you are completely up to date and that you are going to come up in those searches”.

What if some of the skills they are asking for aren’t ones that I have?

If the role seems a really good fit but there are some elements that don’t match your specific skills, then think about the transferable skills that you do have that relate to the task in hand.  The requirements listed in a job advert are often guidelines, not hard and fast rules.  This is an opportunity for you to bring some of your softer skills into play to highlight why you are still a great fit for the role.

Don’t forget those all-important soft skills!

Whilst it is typically your hard skills that will land you a contract role, your soft skills are an important part of outshining your competition.  Soft skills are a combination of many different things, including social skills, character traits and employment qualities that can be transferred to any position. Adaptability, flexibility – these skills are important to show recruiters that bit extra you can bring to the role and how you can fit into the company culture.

One shoe definitely doesn’t fit all

Whilst it is helpful to have a base template resume with your specifics on it, you really should be taking the time to modify each time to target the specific job you are applying for.  It is important that your resume is a live, working document that you adjust each time depending on who and what role you are pitching it to. This is particularly important when contracting.

Yvonne Kelly advises that you need to consider what you think the hiring manager and recruiter will want to see, together with ensuring some of your personality comes through.  She says:

“It’s all about really stepping into the shoes of who is hiring you, and understanding what it is they need.  If you include a cover letter, make sure it is really specific to how you match their criteria and clearly explain the value they will get from putting you into the role.”

Be consistent and up-to-date

Make sure your resume matches your linkedin profile, and that it is up to date with your most recent skills on it.  The first thing hiring managers will do after shortlisting your CV is to compare it with your Linkedin profile, and discrepancies are a real red flag for them.  You need to be constantly checking the terminology used in your industry, and make sure you are highlighting the technology that is most up to date and that is relevant to you and the role you are applying for.

How do I lay out my CV to showcase the most relevant experience?

Traditionally it was common practise to list your jobs in reverse chronological order, outlining your key skills as you go.  But given that most contractors have a non-traditional employment record with a large number of varied roles this could end up as a 10 pager – which just won’t work for you.
Rather than listing every single job you’ve had, focus on those that are most relevant to the job at hand.  Even if your most relevant experience was in the past, you are can bring this forward and highlight the important skills and experience achieved there, that the new role requires. Yvonne has suggested….
  • First page:  Have this as your bio, with an overview snapshot of your experience to date, highlighting your most important relevant projects, skills and experience to date.  You should also include a prominent early section about your transferable professional skills, technologies you have training in, and any relevant certificates and awards achieved within your career.
  • Second/third page: Make this a concise list of roles you have worked on that are specific and can relate to the position you are applying for.  Make sure to include quantifiable achievements throughout.

Show you have the full package

You want to ensure that your resume is the winning balance of a strong professional overview explaining your area of expertise, together with your personality and traits that will make you a great fit for contracting. Also, clearly articulate your areas of expertise and quantifiable examples of projects you have worked on and the problems you have solved.

And finally, this is your opportunity to shine, do your research, keep your information up to date, relevant and tailor it for each new role to ensure it highlights specifically why you are the best person for the job!

For more advice on how how to get started and be successful as a contractor, you can listen to our panel of experts discuss and share their insights and advice in our recent webinar, “how to boost your career in contracting”. Click here to watch the webinar on replay 

You can also read our blog about How to get started as a Contractor.

If you’d like to understand the many ways that Oncore, as one of Australia’s leading contract management providers, can help you contact us here 


Yvonne Kelly is the Founder of Glow Up Careers whose mission is to “Empower everyone to have their best career” providing personalized career coaching. She also sits on the US Board of Global Recruitment Network – NPA Worldwide and is co-founder of a recruitment agency, Driftwood Group.