In this series, our talent team shares personal insight into the hiring process – from perfecting your resume to negotiating that sweet, sweet job offer. Get inspired, and Get Hired!
Resumes are tough. How in the world are you supposed to “summarize” your entire career, education, skill set, professional wins, leadership experience, and personal interests at all… let alone in ONE PAGE?!?
Fear not – we’re here to answer that question. But first, let’s do a little mythbusting. Your resume is not an autobiography. It shouldn’t chronicle every detail of your personal and professional life. That’s what Twitter is for.
Instead, it’s more like the snappy synopsis you’d find on the back cover of your autobiography – a quick, compelling introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want the full story. (If it all goes as planned, you’ll have the chance to tell that story yourself. More on that later.)
The Resume Magic Formula: Revealed
Gotcha! We all know there’s no magic formula for a picture-perfect resume layout. Your story is unique, and the way you tell it should change based on a number of factors (like the company you want to join, where you are in your career, or the role itself). That said, we’ve identified three critical steps that everyone should take when building a resume.
1. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Skip the fancy fonts, graphics, and gifs.
Talent teams go through hundreds of resumes every week, and no one has time to waste squinting at an unintelligible script font. If it’s not legible, it’s on to the next. And if you can’t get past the “first look,” none of that extra flare will matter anyway.
Be smart with spacing.
Don’t squish everything together just so your content fits nicely on one page. If it’s hard for you to read, it probably won’t get read.
Make your headings stand out.
Headings are like resume road signs. Done well, they quickly and easily direct the reader’s eyes to the information they’re looking for. Done poorly… you’re better off without them.
2. Keep your content relevant.
Here’s a cheat sheet for organizing your content so that recruiters can find the most important information first.
Recency and relevancy come first.
Your most recent and relevant jobs should take up the most space on the page. (Caveat: if a previous job is better aligned to the position you’re applying for, dedicate extra space to that experience.)
Bullet points are your best friends.
Utilize bullet points for readability, and begin each bullet point with an active verb. Don’t just regurgitate your job responsibilities; include quantifiable achievements.
For example, instead of this:
- “Redesigned our partner’s homepage using UX best practices.”
- “Redesigned our partner’s homepage with an improved user flow and clear CTAs, lowering page-abandon rate by 30%.”
Pro-tip: use numbers and percentages to make those achievements really pop.
Don’t leave gaps in your work history.
For previous roles that aren’t super-relevant, include only the basics (ie. company name, job title, and years held). This helps show your continuous career progression without wasting valuable space.
Tailor your experience to the new role.
Read over the job description for the role you want, and make sure the skill sets they’re asking for align with your resume. They don’t need to match exactly, but framing your past experience in the context of the new job will absolutely help your resume stand out.
Experience over education.
Unless you’re still in school, put your “Professional Experience” section above your “Education” section. We want that real-world experience.
Cut unnecessary extracurriculars.
Graduated more than 10 years ago? (Belated congratulations!) At this point, recruiters don’t need to know about the clubs and intramural teams you were a part of. Instead, include applicable classes you took or honors you received. Graduating Summa Cum Laude is typically a better success indicator than playing club volleyball.
List relevant skills together.
Don’t skip on skills that would help you on the job in question. This includes software, applications, programs, languages etc.
Get (a little) personal.
If you have space, list hobbies or community involvement initiatives you’re passionate about. This gives the hiring team a better picture of who you are and what motivates you.
3. Proofread. Then proofread again.
So, you’ve finished your resume. The hard part is over – but you’re not done yet. Now, it’s time for the most important (albeit not-so-glamorous) last step: proofreading.
Read it once. Read it twice. Read it to your cat. Ask a friend read it. Then have your friend read it to your cat.
After all that, take five minutes to QA your formatting. (It’ll be well worth it.) Print a copy of your resume and make sure everything looks right on paper. Then, email a digital copy to yourself to make sure the attachment comes through correctly.
Bottom line: go the extra mile to ensure accuracy. First impressions are more influential than you might imagine.
Three Magic Words
Simple. Relevant. Error-free.
At the end of the day, the best resumes will showcase your most relevant experience AND provide specific examples of the impact you’ve made for your company. With no typos to boot.
(Oh. Turns out, there IS a magic formula for resume formatting after all.)
About the Author:Annie Greene | Senior Recruiter
Senior Recruiter at RV focusing on bringing in the world's best digital talent!