Year-round circumstances can make it difficult to have the energy – or even know how – to tout yourself and your skills to a hiring manager. While there are an array of possibilities for how to create your cover letter and portfolio depending on the position you’re looking for, resumes are a little bit different. For our friends looking to land their dream job or hit that next career goal with a new position, we’ve got some basic tips to simultaneously simplify that resume and really make a lasting impression on a potential employer.
1. Know what room you have to work with
Most professional organizations will suggest that you keep your resume to 1 page, no matter the circumstance. However, our research indicates that any applicable professional experience of 10-25 years may require 2 pages, and we encourage people with that level of experience to really play with the space that 2 pages can provide to achieve a cleaner, more streamlined read for the hiring managers. Your experience and dedication earned that extra space!
2. Develop a professional headline
This step is important and many job applicants forget altogether. You want your potential employers to get a good snapshot of your experience, and that includes knowing your worth and the key parts you play in your role. This headline should be easily recognizable on your resume (oftentimes it is formatted in bold), consist of 2-4 words to really captivate their attention, and really sum up what you bring to the table. For example, you may be a copywriter, but what else? What is a quantifiable metric that will make you stand out for that particular position, or any positions you are applying to? If you’re shifting into a more marketing-driven space, perhaps try on “Growth Focused Marketing Copywriter” for size. Either way, this is the first of their first impressions of you, so you will want to find some key descriptors to make an impact.
3. Summarize your intentions
We highly suggest including a snappy summary near the top of your resume, to expand on your professional headline a tad for the hiring team. Avoid objective statements, and instead opt for statistics or accomplishments from past work, why you’re keen on a position like this one, and what you can bring to the table. Less than 70 words is ideal for this section, especially for applicants who have an extensive resume and not a lot of room to work with their experience and additional skills.
4. Keep your roles short and sweet
Yes, the hiring manager does want to know what you accomplished with your previous employers, internships, and contract positions, but you can discuss dynamics with them at length once you land the interview. Our hot take? Swap out first-person narratives like “I was” for results-based info, which will help keep job descriptions to 1-2 lines on your resume. This part can be difficult to tackle, especially with multi-faceted roles, but it is something to keep in mind as you format your resume so that each line can be a quick-hit option for people who already spend so much time sifting through resumes and portfolios.
5. Don’t forget the details
As in everyday life, don’t forget the details. Make sure to include start and end dates for each role (save for some of that “odds and ends” contract work) and your graduation year, where applicable. This will give the hiring managers an idea of some of the key skills you possess updated knowledge on. Additionally, many people forego updating their contact information, which can really throw off your chances of landing an interview. So please, for the sake of your career and all you’ve been working for, make absolutely certain that your full name, email address, and phone number are easily legible on your resume. If you are applying for a marketing, design or other creative position, be aware that including relevant social media or portfolio links can make or break it for you.
6. Make sure your resume is clean
More than anything, I cannot stress enough to give your resume the respect for clean lines and blank space. Sometimes a wonky margin can be distracting, an array of poorly executed fonts can make things weird, and a typo can literally cost you the job. You can inject your personality into a resume without sacrificing its legibility. This is just your reminder to have multiple eyes take a pass over your resume before you hand it over in the application process, and to keep it simple where you can.
We offer a free resume reviewer over on the site that evaluates your resume on a few key points. If you have more of a visual resume with design pieces on it, the reviewer may not be able to give you precise feedback but you will certainly receive notes on best practices while using it. If you’re looking for a resume overhaul, here are a few resume templates and examples to help you within your specific industry.