When you’re ready to embark on the search for a new job, the first thing you’ll do is polish up your resume. Your resume is your first impression, so many candidates think they need a flashy document or graphic resume to stand out. While there are differing opinions out there, our experience is that simplicity is the most elegant and the most effective when it comes to resumes. There are many reasons why we advise content over form, especially for senior-level job seekers. Here are some of the key considerations to take into account as you draft your resume.
Consider your readers.
When creating your resume, you want to think of your audience and write with them in mind. The fact is that these days, it’s likely that your resume will be parsed by both humans and machines. Therefore, you’ll want to optimize your resume for each so that both can easily read and understand.
Most companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) as the first step of screening when looking for a suitable candidate. This software scans the resumes, looks for specific keywords, and phrases, and recommends the most qualified candidates. Knowing this should guide your resume writing, and lead you to focus on keywords and concise descriptions so the software can read your resume and get you in front of a human. Many of the formatting styles people use these days can interfere with the ATS and render your resume unreadable by these programs.
You want to make your resume easy to read for the software, as well as for the people who will hopefully read it afterwards!
Resume best practices.
The basic best practices of a resume that both looks nice and is easy for anyone to read are:
- Having 1 to 2 pages depending on the years of experience
- Keeping it very clean and simple
- Black and white
- Using a modern font
- Having distinct sections
- Using bullet points
- Not having sentences that are longer than 2 lines
Are graphic resumes the best choice?
Graphic resumes may be popular, but we recommend against them for a few specific reasons:
- The ATS might not be able to read through your resume
- Having many graphics and colors on your resume can make it seem like a sales brochure
- Not adhering to the basic best practices can make you seem unprofessional
What really matters.
What hiring managers and recruiters care about is the content of the resume. You can stand out with your experience, achievements, skills, and qualifications! That is why you want your content to be the center of attention by having a clean document that is easy to read. Substance over looks. While a graphic resume may look nice, if nobody gets to see it or if it’s missing that substance then it’s not serving you.
What does a professional looking resume need? There are four main ingredients:
- A summary at the top that shows your value add
- Core competencies sections with the most relevant skills
- Achievements that are quantified to objectively showcase your success
- Customization for different roles
Launching your job search? Start here.