If a responsible, dedicated manager is reviewing your resume, the first thing they’re looking for is substance. Smart employers who want to keep their companies in business have only one goal during the staffing process: Hire the appropriate and affordable person.
But here’s a curious fact: Not all managers are smart. And even smart people are sometimes drawn to the thing that catches their eye. In other words, even though substance should matter most, style sometimes wins in the end.
No matter how confident you may be, and no matter how certain you are that your credentials speak for themselves, they don’t. You’re always going to need to dress them up a little if you expect them to get the attention they deserve. Here’s how.
1. Your text and language should be impeccable. Never let a single rough phrase, accidental colloquialism, or typo work its way into your resume. This is the equivalent of walking into a fancy wedding venue with mud from the barn still clinging to your shoes. There’s a time and a place for blunt, unpolished statements, and there’s a time to shine every word until you can see your face it in. Your resume is the black tie affair of formal documents. Don’t cut a single corner.
2. Make sure it’s readable. If you think resume formatting problems might occur once the reviewer opens it up, you’re probably right. Don’t take chances. Try emailing the document to yourself or to a friend with a different email platform, just to make sure everything looks okay on the receiving end. If you’re uploading your document to a website and you’re not sure all of your formatting will make it through intact, left-align your lines and remove your bullet points.
3. Keep things simple. Use a straightforward font, and keep your font sizes limited to three. Keep your text colors limited to two. Don’t include any pictures, images or graphs in your resume or letter. If you feel this is too restrictive, include a link to your own website or blog. You can embed anything you like at this destination site, including a much longer resume, photos, graphs, and even videos of yourself speaking to potential employers.
4. Customize. Don’t waste time by rewriting every single application from the ground up, but make sure your resume and cover letter offer at least a few details that pertain to the individual recipient or the target company only.
Finally, become an absolute master of formatting your resume. If you don’t have time for this, use a preset, polished template that will present your text and subheadings with style. LiveCareer’s Resume Builder provides a variety of document templates and tools that will help you organize your information in a sleek, professional fashion that adheres to professional business standards.