The do’s and don’ts of crafting a resume and how to make it stand out with a digital boost
More than a digital handshake, a resume is your way of reaching out across virtual space and grabbing the attention of a potential new employer. But, with more qualified candidates pouring into the job market every day, getting and holding attention is increasingly difficult.
The resume itself has evolved (over 500 years) from a straightforward list of qualifications to become a colourful, interactive marketing tool that needs to tell a holistic story of each a candidate.
You need to cater your resume to find an appropriate balance between direct information and sales pitch with many moving parts. That balance has to fit with your intended industry and position: a text-only resume for a creative marketing job won’t get you noticed, while a flashy, YouTube video resume for an investing banking job will—except it will be for ongoing and relentless public ridicule.
Keeping that balance and your industry in mind, start with the do’s and don’ts of crafting a resume, then consider giving it a digital boost at each step.
Do show your career timeline
Resumes of the past relied on the chronology of former employment to sell future employment. Though more complicated now, resumes should still walk the reader through your professional background. If you’re just starting out, show your education, volunteer experience and any part-time jobs with relatable skills (i.e. serving at a restaurant can show time management and customer service skills).
Don’t just list past jobs
Though it should be included to show progression, a timeline isn’t everything. Skills-based resumes are more popular now; they include a brief timeline of employment, and then showcase your transferable abilities and experiences. Whether you do this or the traditional reverse chronology resume, give enough detail to let the reader connect what you’ve done to what you can do for them. Include quantifiable proof of your impact through each role, such as percentages of growth, reduced expenses, number of team members managed, etc.
Digital boost: Use a map or infographic to illustrate
This makes your timeline really pop off the page. It becomes easy and fun for the reader to follow along. Not design savy? There are a ton of services out there to help you build a visually appealing resume, such as DoYouBuzz.com and Visualize.me.
Do know your audience
Research the organization and get a sense of the culture, taking a look at what the company says it’s all about (the tone, language of the website, any projects or clients listed) and what others say about it (LinkedIn profiles of employees, Glassdoor reviews, online customer comments). Do some digging into who will be the first one reading your resume; find common points of interest with that individual and do your best to highlight those skills or experiences near the top.
Don’t inflate your talents
If you can’t have an informative discussion about a skill listed on your resume, don’t include it. There’s a huge difference between knowing what something is (i.e. Search Engine Optimization) and how to effectively use it on a daily basis. Finding common points of interest with the HR individual shouldn’t feel like a stretch; if it does, position yourself as a diverse perspective that will fresh ideas to the team.
Digital boost: Develop a personal brand
Who are you, what makes you unique and what value do you bring? A 2-3 sentence statement should cover this, but you should have proof, too: enter, The Internet. Consider adding hyperlinks to articles you’ve written, awards you’ve received or charities for which you volunteer. A potential employer may Google you anyway—the point here is to direct them toward what they should be seeing online, so their perception of you is a carefully curated one.
Do incorporate social media and hyperlink handles
Your LinkedIn profile should be up-to-date and consistent with the resume you’re submitting; if you include Twitter, make sure your last post wasn’t 3 years ago or only about personal things like cute puppies or political rants. Each social media account you offer should be active, professional, public and relevant.
Don’t include Facebook
Most Facebook accounts enter the realm of personal boundaries, so it’s good practice to keep your privacy settings high. Still, a certain amount can be publicly viewed. Make sure it passes the eye test by logging out and searching your name—the limited pictures and posts that show up need to be appropriate for all viewers.
Digital boost: Let your resume live online
If you don’t have your own website already, find another way to host your resume online: LinkedIn is a good way to start, but also consider an online resume builder, like Career Igniter or Resume Builder Online. These sites allow you to built and host a resume on their site. You get a downloadable digital copy and a private link to send to potential employers.
Start with clean, straightforward language for your content (preferably edited by both you and a peer). Follow the do’s and the don’ts before considering whether a digital boost is right for your industry, the company environment, the position in question and your personal brand. Remember, extra visual elements and interactivity should enhance, not detract from, a well thought-out proposal of why you’re the best fit for the job. If your resume starts to feel too busy or complicated, take it back to the basics.