As a firm who specializes in employment and recruiting, we can frequently be found offering valuable advice on ways to improve the appearance and effectiveness of your résumé.
Further reading: “The Right Way To List Job Titles On Your Résumé”
Yet, in this article, we will share some adjunct, yet equally insightful advice for job seekers to consider when preparing their résumé. As reported by Erin Greenwald, prolific writer and content strategist for the career coaching website, TheMuse.com, here are a few guidelines that may go beyond the obvious or tried and true.
1. Pick and choose your experience.
Greenwald states, “Your résumé should not have every work experience you’ve ever had listed on it. Think of your résumé, not as a comprehensive list of your career history, but as a marketing document selling you as the perfect person for the job”. In other words, remember to only spotlight the accomplishments and expertise that are most germane to the job you want. However, Greenwald continues, “Since you’ll want to be swapping different information in and out depending on the job you’re applying for, keep a résumé master list on your computer where you keep any information you’ve ever included on a résumé”. At this point, it’s just a matter of “cutting and pasting” to create the right résumé for your current needs.
2. Keep important facts “above the fold”.
Picture the information that appears on the top, front half of a folder newspaper. In digital times, this would refer to what appears on a website before you scroll down. Greenwald advises, “…you should make sure your best experiences and accomplishments are visible on the top third of your résumé. This top section is what the hiring manager is going to see first, and what will serve as a hook for someone to keep on reading”.
3. Include relevant links.
We all know that résumés are best kept to one page. However, what if you simply can’t fit all of your relevant information within the allotted amount of space? Also, perhaps you have examples of your work that simply cannot be conveyed via your résumé. According to Greenwald, “Instead of trying to have your résumé cover everything, cover the most important details on that document, and then include a link to your personal website, where you can dive more into what makes you the ideal candidate”.
4. Use infographics, but responsibly.
If used properly, graphics can really help your résumé stand out from the “sea of Times New Roman”. Greenwald suggest that “…creative résumés – like infographics, videos, or presentations — or résumés with icons or graphics can set you apart, but you should use them thoughtfully. If you’re applying through an ATS, keep to the standard formatting without any bells and whistles so the computer can read it effectively. If you’re applying to a more traditional company, don’t get too crazy, but feel free to add some tasteful design elements or a little color to make it pop”. Just remember to assess the type of company and position for which you’re applying, and if you are going to go the way of infographics, put in the time and effort to make it look incredible and as professional as possible.
5. Explain frequent job changes.
Job-hopping can be quite common in this day and age, but if you have this type of résumé, don’t expect hiring managers not to wonder why. Greenwald reminds job seekers to “include a reason for leaving next to each position, with a succinct explanation like ‘company closed’, ‘layoff due to downsizing’, or ‘relocated to new city’. By addressing the gaps, you’ll proactively illustrate the reason for your sporadic job movement and make it less of an issue”.
6. Make your résumé “skimmable”.
HR and hiring managers are not known for spending long periods of time reading each résumé that comes across their desk, so remember to format accordingly. Proper use of bold type and bullet-points, and keywords can work to your advantage when employers are scanning or skimming your résumé for key facts about your skills and work history.
7. Limited experience? Highlight transferable skills.
Greenwald reminds hopeful job candidates not to panic if their work experience doesn’t quite match with the position for which they are applying. She reports that focusing your résumé on “your relevant and transferrable skills along with any related side or academic projects” can help bridge any gaps in direct experience. Greenwald continues, “…make sure to pair it with a strong cover letter telling the narrative of why you’re ideal for the job”.
8. Omit “Reference Available Upon Request”.
While the jury may be out on this one, recent advice suggests that not only does the “References Available Upon Request” line at the end of your résumé state the obvious, but can appear somewhat presumptuous. If an employer is considering you for the position and is interested in your work history, he or she will assume you already have references, and ask you for them directly.
9. Avoid overused descriptions.
At this point, we all know the importance of including keywords, yet what about the words we should leave out of our résumé? Greenwald reminds us to avoid the obvious terms such as “detail-oriented, team player, and hard worker — among other vague terms – that recruiters say are chronically overused”. Search harder for more unique ways to express how valuable you are.
10. PDF works best.
While you likely formatted and typed out your résumé in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or something similar, remember that your file may not necessarily appear the same way to your recipient. Avoid any formatting discrepancies by converting your file to a PDF, which can be viewed universally by virtually anyone.
11. File names matter.
Once you’re ready to email your résumé file, take a moment to ensure that it is aptly named. Greenwald suggests, “Save it as ‘Jane Smith Résumé’ instead of [simply] ‘Résumé’. It is one less step the hiring manager has to take”.
At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.