The résumé … Here are the things I learned about writing a résumé 20 years ago in college:
- One page only.
- Don’t pad it with filler.
- Write an inspiring Objective.
- Don’t get too personal or stylized; your personal preferences- from your hobbies to your font choice- can ruin your chances of getting an offer.
Some standard advice still holds, but a lot has changed. Current hiring trends demonstrate an emphasis on “culture fit”- finding the right personality with the right skill set to mesh with company atmosphere. Companies- especially high paying, high tech firms- are willing to trade heavy perks and relaxed working environments in exchange for prospective employees who will “stand out from the crowd” but “fit their vibe.”
So, personality and style mean a lot more now than they did 20 years ago. Now that every job seeker is expected to have a social media presence, headhunters and trendy career counselors are advising candidates to hone their “personal brand.”
“The visual résumé” is a new-ish buzzword in job-seeking. Hiring consultants say these modern resumes should be bold and enticing, reflecting that personal brand. HR experts report the average hiring manager takes about six seconds to lay eyes on a résumé before deciding whether to put it in the “keep” or “trash” pile. If your résumé and cover letter don’t captivate at first glance, don’t expect to get an interview.
HR consultants in a lot of industries are advising job hunters to ditch the old lines of passive text in favor of easy-to-read, visually stimulating resumes that reflect the person behind the job history.
But don’t snazzy it up for the sake of being different … use a captivating visual representation because it organizes your information and represents you well.
A bit about ATS and your résumé
Many large companies use Applicant Tracking Software to parse through the keywords on a résumé. In general, ATS does not love highly graphical résumés and they rely more on keyword matches more than anything else.
Career guru Hannah Morgan writes, “As a general rule of thumb, always tailor your résumé to the exact phrasing and wording of the job description for which you’re applying. If the job description says that an ‘M.B.A’ is required, you’re far more likely to rank in the ATS if you have ‘M.B.A’ listed on your resume, rather than Masters in Business Administration. Tools like Jobscan can also help you compare your résumé against job descriptions and analyze which keywords you need to include.”
ATS is not going to award you extra points for how captivating your visual presentation is, or how well-written it is. Keep a standard résumé handy for applications you need to submit online through ATS, as well as a visual résumé for applications you email or snail mail directly to a human.
Best advice from the blogosphere:
- Get personal. Be yourself and express who you are. If you offend a potential employer with how you word or style your résumé, there’s a great chance you’re not going to be a good match for that particular company.
- Write in active voice; no weak, passive phrasing. Active voice is more dynamic and makes the subject (you) the focus of the statement. Here are great examples of active and passive voice.
- Standard employment history has moved down the list on things hiring managers want to see on a résumé. Keep it complete, but brief.
- One page only … unless there’s a really good reason for more. Some highly technical data and analysis positions call for applicants to detail work and results. If you have to go to two pages, be as brief as you can. Toss out unnecessary content.
- Skip the objective. It takes up valuable real estate on your résumé, and your cover letter should cover what job you’re applying for, why you want it and how you will benefit the company.
- Create a space for skill set chart. Use a visual, honest representation of your expertise.
- Use a great design template that forces you to be brief and organize your key traits and assets well. Good modern design use blocks of information, rather than long boring lines of text that blend together. Here are some good examples.
- Use color.
- Pay attention to file format requirements when you save your résumé/cover letter file. Send your résumé and cover letter as PDFs. Anyone with any system or software can open them on any device. UNLESS, your submission will be run through ATS, in which case Word files may work best. Always keep your original file format and PDF file handy.
- Run your résumé through www.jobscan.com.