Having a well-crafted resume is every bit as important in a good economy where there are plenty of jobs as it is during a recession. Competition for the best jobs is still fierce. People are leaving the positions they held onto for dear life during the recession and are now trying to get hired on at better companies with better pay and benefits. A resume done right makes a good first impression, and an excellent first impression is still the difference between getting the job and not getting it. A mediocre resume can even land you a job, but not necessarily the job you want. It would be a shame to lose out on a dream career because of an uninspired, boring resume.
Making a top-notch resume requires more than making it a well-organized list of qualifications and accomplishments. To truly stand out, it needs to be a work of art. The layout and design have to be engaging enough to draw attention. The words need to tell your professional story in a way that is engaging yet concise, and the critical points need to stand apart without overshadowing everything else. It isn't easy, but there are things you can do to make your resume, the one HR remembers.
Reach Out to the Company – Indirectly
Calling the CEO or head of HR and asking what they want to see on a resume is an excellent way to get recognized as a bootlicker and possibly blacklisted from ever being hired at a company. Instead of your potential superiors, try reaching out to your potential peers via social media platforms like LinkedIn. You can also ask on public forums like Reddit – assuming the company has a subreddit. You already know what to say; now you know how to say it.
Hire a Pro
Getting a resume proofread or even hiring a professional resume writer can be a good idea. However, it’s a case of buyer beware. Several of these “professional” resume writing services are content mills which pay their workers minimum wage or less or flat out scams. If they can’t write a resume to get themselves a better job, don’t expect the resume they write for you to be anything special either.
Technology is pushing companies forward with innovate or die is a new reality. This means that companies look for job candidates who are contemporary, forward thinkers. Using old standards like Times New Roman gives a resume an inherently stagnant look. Instead use clean, modern-looking fonts like Arial and Calibri. The right fonts can enhance your resume and make it stand apart.
Stick to the primary and standard fonts though. Most of them are universal to almost all platforms. As a rule of thumb, if WordPad doesn’t support it, don’t use it. Overly fancy or stylized fonts should be avoided. They aren't sophisticated and are just as unprofessional as using Comic Sans on your resume. Plus, these fonts can be hard to read (an instant rejection for any resume) and may not be viewable by the company’s computers.
The current trend in resumes is a cover letter and one page. More detailed employment history and work sample shouldn't be included unless specifically asked for. A workaround is to add hyperlinks to an online portfolio, a LinkedIn profile, or a personal webpage. Not only will this save space on your resume, but it will also give hiring managers a reason to spend more time on your resume.
Add a Color Splash
Color can make a resume pop in a way that gets noticed. However, color is a tool that should be used subtly. Using a light blue for the main heading or including a ribbon on the header the same color as the company’s logo is a nice touch. More than this and the resume will look loud and unprofessional.
Sometimes words cannot convey the true meaning of what is being described, especially when you only have one line to do it. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Include images like a before and after shot for projects where a noticeable change happened. Another good option is a graph or chart that shows the improvements or increases in a department or project you worked on or managed. Never include a picture of yourself, and don’t turn your resume into an Instagram page.
Stay on Top of Trends
Chances are, you will be changing jobs and careers several times over your working life. This means updating your resume. The font styles, layout, and other aspects that HR departments like right now may be what they hate in a few years. Check and see what new trends hiring managers are looking for, before merely adding a new line to your old resume and sending out.