The resume is a source of pride for some and a subject of embarrassment for others. Of the two extremes, people seem to enjoy confidence over embarrassment. Let’s cover a few concepts designed to restore confidence and put a smile on the face of a once-frustrated resume owner.
Most people have the general concept of how to write a resume, but the goal of a resume is to seize enough attention to receive an invitation to the next step of a hiring process. Why would an applicant settle for doing what most people can do? Mediocrity does not tend to stand out from the crowd. Here are three ways to improve:
1. Visual Style
Presentation is key. Food at an upscale dining establishment appeals to both the eye and the palate. One expects an artistic arrangement with vibrant colors. Imagine ordering filet mignon and then the tuxedo-clad waiter returns with a domed silver cover over a fine serving platter. He lifts the cover and the steam disperses to reveal a viscous pile of indistinguishable, gray slop. Clearly trouble is afoot in the kitchen.
In similar fashion, why does an applicant expect a hiring manager to relish the experience of consuming a resume’s nutritious contents if the document is a jumbled mess that resembles something outsourced to the lowest bidder who does not even share the resume owner’s native language?
To make a hiring manager hungry to read beyond the first line, it helps to use the following:
- Bullet points
- Spell check: obvious, but oft-ignored
- Consistency of paragraph and bullet point alignment
- Consistent, readable font
Sparing use of bolded words for section headers and/or other lines such as company or job title (this will help the manager with even the poorest eyesight recognize shifts to the next subject.)
2. Retire the Objective
Except in the case of wildly eccentric individuals who apply for their own enigmatic purposes, the point of sending a resume is usually self-apparent—interest in the job. Instead of using the prime real estate at the top of the resume to induce yawns, replace that mundane section with something catchier like a Profile or Summary. You have precious few seconds to hook your audience, so use some attention-grabbing, non-cliché language to highlight major strengths and reasons an employer would want hire you over the next person.
3. Set Yourself Apart
Sticking out like a sore thumb would be uncouth for most situations in polite society, but in the backward world of hiring this helps make a candidate memorable. Keep in mind that both fame and infamy are memorable. Seeking the favorable impression, then, use the resume as the sales brochure it is. Stand out from other potential applicants; rather than strictly listing daily tasks in the bullet points, showcase accomplishments with specific details that can tie in with duties. For example, how much revenue have you brought the company in the past year or month? Do you exceed quotas by 15%? If so, mention these things—they are much more compelling evidence than a bullet point stating, “Completed assigned duties” or “Met expectations.” List specific business successes, exceptional metrics, and similar data. Are you more consistent in hitting your targets than peers? What types of products and technologies have you worked with that will sound familiar to your prospective employer? Be careful not to exaggerate or lie!
These items are meant to draw out the concrete features of your experience to portray the unique, actual you. Where your resume was once a loose fitting car cover that only hinted at the contents and capabilities underneath, the well-crafted clarification removes that cover to reveal your blazing red and very capable, 700-horsepower Ferrari instead of another nondescript beige sedan that might have been there. Both vehicles will convey a person from point A to point B, but which one attracts attention in traffic? A hiring manager is just as human as the rest of us, meaning they notice shiny objects too. Applying concepts like these three will improve the shine of your resume.
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