Ugly Resumes Get Trashed. Is Yours Turning Heads?

July 16th, 2014 | Resume | No Comments »

Ugly Resume2

Ever gone to an interview with an ugly suit or some garish outfit? You get the same reaction when you send out your ugly resume: weird looks and a quick dismissal. Appearances matter. Don’t let yours encourage employers to write you off.

The Stock Template – Though not an outright ugly resume, a stock template is far from appealing. It’s unoriginal and run-of-the-mill. Do you want that impression representing you?

  • Get rid of Times New Roman – Searching for a job in 1993? Feel free to use it. Otherwise, choose another legible, sans-serif font. Arial, Calibri, Book Antiqua, and Century are far less exhausted.
  • Watch out for repetitive rows –If your education, skills, and work history are Xerox copies of the same format, nothing will stand out. It makes your resume look a little too neat. For hiring managers, it’s like trying to stare at a Magic Eye without a hidden image.
  • Spot ugly resume formats –Certain information is on every hiring manager’s check list: your name, current title and company, current position start date, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education. Resumes organized contrary to these priorities are typically ignored.

The Endless Clutter – It’s tempting to cram your entire work history into two pages. Space is limited, but it’s better to send a stuffed resume than a few skimpy words. Right? Not necessarily.

Think of a piece of memorable advertising. It’s short. It’s sweet. It isn’t saturated with fine-print or superfluous details. Your resume, as a marketing tool, should be no different.

  • Never decrease the margins – On a Word document, the standard margin is a 1 inch border on all sides. Deviate from that and you risk overloading your reader.
  • Remove day-to-day duties – Not every miniscule detail needs to be broadcast. Swap out day-to-day responsibilities for your greatest achievements. It’s more impressive and consumes much less space.
  • Give it some breathing room – Each section of your resume (your education, work history, technical skills, etc.) needs space to breathe. If they’re stacked like Jenga blocks, your resume will only intimidate, not entice.

The Haiku – This goes beyond Cliff’s note trimming. Sparse resumes, with brief, barely-formatted sentences, are some of the first on the chopping block. Even if writing is not one of your strong suits, make the effort.

  • Create harmony with white space – White space is best when balanced. As we said before, too little creates a claustrophobic feeling. However, too much white space implies your experience is as barren as the driest desert.
  • Fill your resume with keywords – Having a hard time filling up space? Spice it up with the right industry keywords. Certain technical keywords (those STEM skills that are hardest to find) can instantly entice employers and boost your salary prospects considerably.
  • Include external links – Do you have a LinkedIn profile? A professional website? Online examples of your work? Attach the most relevant links and you’ll give employers a visual encouragement to give you a call.

If you’re feeling bold, it might even be worth trying an alternative resume style. Before you do, consider whether or not the company will be receptive to it. As with every resume, it needs to fit with the company’s position and culture. That’s how you keep yourself from getting tuned out.

by James Walsh

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