Resumes & Cover Letters

In a time crunch? 7 tips for writing a compelling resume against the clock

Written by Guest Contributor

You’ve found your dream job online and you’re feeling pretty good about your chances of getting invited in for an interview if you apply. The problem? You’ve only got a few hours until the deadline, so you’ve got to act fast. But writing a resumé can be tricky at the best of times, let alone when you’re working against the clock. In order to create a killer resumé, and fast, you need to be able to put pen to paper and keep a cool head.

The good news is, there are some simple steps you can follow to help you whip up a great resumé in no time:

Put together a plan

First, start by planning how you’re going to write your resumé. Depending on your timeframe, you can break this down into smaller tasks.

For example, set yourself 10 minutes for planning, an hour for writing and half an hour for proofing and making any amends. While this might feel like wasted time, it’ll actually help you to feel calmer and ensure that you’re staying on track.

Make some notes

Next, you should take some time to make notes. Make a quick list of your key skills and knowledge, work experience and qualifications. Then, make a quick list of your key achievements from past roles and projects.

This will make it easier to tweak your resumé quickly, as you already have all the information you need in one place.

Scan through the job description

Now you’ll need to scan through the job description and, armed with the list from the previous step, match up the desirable skills that you possess. You should also look out for any key requirements such as previous experience or qualifications.

You should now have a clear and targeted list of relevant keywords, skills, and requirements. Keep this handy, as you’re going to pepper these throughout your resumé. This will help the recruiter to quickly scan your application and recognize that you’re a good fit for the job.

Update an existing resume

Don’t over-stress yourself by trying to write your resumé from scratch. If you’ve got a resumé from other recent applications or something from a few years back, you can tailor it.

Focus on the top quarter of your resume

The top quarter of your resumé is arguably the most important part. So if you’ve only got time to tweak one part, make it the top section. This is where your contact details, personal profile and key skills section can be found — hence why it’s so important.

Tailor your personal profile for the specific role and industry, outlining any key skills and achievements that you think the recruiter needs to know early on. Remember, this section should be no more than 200 words, so you need to make them count!

Below your profile, create a bullet-pointed list in 2 or 3 columns and write down the key skills from your list from step 3. Even if you don’t have time to re-write your employment history, this list will allow the employer to see that you’re a good fit for the role.

Quality over quantity

If you’re especially short on time, remember that it’s best to have one page of great content than to try and string together a two-page resumé full of fluff.

Proofread before submitting

Before you submit the application, you need to make sure you’ve proofread it at least twice. Being short on time can make you feel rushed, but remember, spelling or grammatical errors don’t look very professional.

When you’re against the clock you’re more likely to make mistakes. Not only that, but it’s unlikely that you’ll have time to ask someone else to look over your resumé for you. Instead, you might want to consider using online tools like Grammarly to check for errors. 

Don’t let time restrictions ruin your dreams

Just because the deadline is nearing, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach for the stars. If you’ve found a job you think you’d be perfect for, just take a deep breath and focus. And if that doesn’t work, have a cup of coffee or two and get writing!

About the Author:
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian, and FastCompany.

About the author

Guest Contributor