5 Steps to a Better Resume
Talk to five hiring managers and you’ll likely get five different versions of what the perfect resume looks like.
You’ll hear conflicting advice like:
Resumes should only be one page / Resumes can be up to five pages
Never use colour / Always add a pop of colour
Add personal flare with creative fonts / Keep your fonts clean—only use Times New Roman
…And on and on!
One size doesn’t fit all for most things in life, and resumes are no exception. Which is a good thing—no need to cram your unique career path and experiences into a template that doesn’t show your best side.
The resume has morphed from a bland business document into your personal marketing tool. This is your opportunity to pack a one-two punch of style and substance.
Focus on results
Your resume needs to clearly identify what you DID in your current and previous roles. This sounds like a subtle difference from “what you do” but the results, quite literally, are the difference in getting noticed.
DON’T simply copy your job description.
e.g. Lead website development for clients, including SEO strategy
DO share your accomplishments in specific terms.
e.g. Updated website for an eCommerce client with a strategic SEO plan to capture expanded target audience segment; unique visitors increased by 37% within 3 months of launch.
DON’T assume others will understand your job based on your job title.
Titles don’t explain scope of your role and your level of decision-making, accountability, or leadership. A Marketing Coordinator can be a junior role in a large organization or the does-it-all marketer in a small company of 10 people.
DO include a brief overview of the focus of your jobs
Tell your own story by sharing where you fit in your organization’s hierarchy, the size of your team/accounts/budget, etc., and what you’re responsible to deliver on a regular basis.
DON’T assume the reader understands your language.
Relying on industry jargon to tell your story can backfire, even if it’s the most efficient way to pack the most information into the smallest space. Save (most) of the acronyms for texting with your bestie.
DO use plain language to describe the non-technical aspects of your role.
Assume that your resume may get screened by someone who doesn’t do the same type of work as you and aim for plain language with minimal acronyms. Get a friend in another line of work to give it a quick read – if they don’t understand what you do, rewrite!
5 ways to improve your resume layout
Once you’ve got your content working hard for you, take a critical look at your resume layout to make sure your amazing job results aren’t buried in bad formatting.
The issue of electronic scanning aside, consider making it easy for a human who may have to flip through 25 resumes to find you and quickly see that you’re a match for the role.
Yes, you may have agonized over each word choice in your poetic summary, but your resume is being evaluated on how closely it meets specific job criteria. So how can you help to make your key information easy to find?
- White space – generous margins, spacing around headings, comfortable type size.
- Headings and subheadings – tell your reader exactly what is in each section and make sure your headings stand out from the body content.
- Bullet points vs. paragraphs – use the appropriate style for the type of information being shared.
- Consistent format – choose a style for headings, a place for dates, titles, etc. and stick to it. Too many fonts, type sizes, underlining and italics combos are tough to follow.
- Friendly language – warm and personable language is an easier, and more enjoyable, read than blocks of 14-letter words and endless acronyms.
Put in the time. Get noticed.
Consider your resume as your shot at getting noticed. It’s your foot in the door to a job interview or phone screening, or even just a click-through to your LinkedIn profile. Put in the time to align your resume with your career goals and tell your story with clarity and sparkle.