So, you’re staring at a version of your résumé you last modified three summers ago, and you don’t know where to begin to bring it up to date? Here’s an idea: Take the bare essentials (dates, employers, and responsibilities), put them aside for reference, then start fresh. Here are nine top tips from Betenwrite.com for successful résumés and CVs, which you can use to create an impressive professional summary you’ll be proud to submit for that dream job opening.
1. Plenty of white space
White space refers to all the areas of your résumé not taken up by content—e.g., page margins, paragraph breaks, and so forth. Cushioning your text and other content with plenty of space makes the overall document easier to scan.
This allows recruiters to quickly gather the details they need to decide if they’d like to give you a call. To create plenty of white space, use generously-sized margins all around the page and break up your content into distinguishable sections with clear headings.
2. Write a straightforward headline
If you had to grab a recruiter’s attention in ten words or less, what would you say? How would you describe yourself? Use your answers to come up with a straightforward headline, which you should put right at the top of your résumé, underneath your name.
What you’re looking for is a quick snapshot of what you bring to the table, something that’ll tell the recruiter they should keep reading. For example, one of my headlines might read something like Blogger and Editor Specializing in Careers Content and Résumé Design. P.S. Depending on your job search goals, your current title may work just as well (e.g., Registered Nurse).
Read more: 4 Easy Tips for Effective CVs & Résumés
3. Bring in some color
In an age of ultra-individuality, there’s no reason we shouldn’t all make an effort to stand out. A bit of color splashed onto the page can change the whole look of your résumé, and turn what previously might’ve looked like a pre-digital relic into a modern professional snapshot.
There are tons of color choices that will work for professionals in any industry, creative or not. Use a tool like colorhexa.com to try out different shades, tints, and schemes. For specific color ideas, read up a bit on color psychology online or, better yet, use the hiring company’s own colors, as discussed in the next tip.
4. Use the hiring company’s brand imagery
Good companies invest a lot of money into coming up with their brand identity, and incorporating some of this imagery into your résumé can help you stand out.
Think about it: The recruiter or hiring manager who reviews your application will certainly be familiar with the company’s primary color and typeface. If you include either or both of these somewhere on your résumé, you’re sure to catch their eye or, at least, strike a familiar tone.
5. Fill a whole page
Here are a few ground rules for résumé length:
- One page is better than two pages
- Two pages are better than 1.5 pages
- Anything over two pages is too long
If you have more content than would normally fit on a single-page résumé, aim to condense your experience, skills, and qualifications down to one page by filtering out information that isn’t necessarily relevant to the position you’re seeking.
On the other hand, if you’re working with less than a page’s worth of background—because you’re looking for your first job or you have limited experience in a new industry, for example—there are several ways you can stretch out even the smallest amounts of information.
6. Create a master template
Especially if you plan to apply to more than one position, saving a master template of your résumé will prove tremendously useful as you progress through your job search. Your master template should contain the “bare bones” of your résumé—in other words, the content that stays the same across all your job applications.
Keep your master template saved on your laptop or in your drive. Whenever you’re ready to apply for a job, make a copy of it, then edit the copy, not the original. This way, it’ll take you much less time to tailor to each job offer, which brings us to our next tip.
7. Tailor, tailor, tailor
You stand a much better chance of getting noticed if you send in a résumé that’s been specially prepared to highlight all the reasons you’re the perfect candidate for the hiring company. Plus, with a master template saved, tailoring won’t be nearly as big a chore as if you’d started from scratch.
To tailor your résumé effectively, you should do at least two things: Mirror your résumé’s language to the job ad’s, and relate your existing skills and background to the job requirements. You can read more about these techniques in the article below.
8. Include a cover letter with, and match it to, your résumé
Even if the job ad doesn’t ask for a cover letter, make the effort to include one. First, it’ll set you apart, but more importantly, you’ll have a chance to expand on some of the themes you might not have had room for on your résumé.
In your letter, talk about why you want the job, tell a “skills story,” and explain the best time to reach you, and how. Finally, don’t forget to ensure your cover letter and résumé form a cohesive unit. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if, for instance, you wrote about your fantastic sales skills in your letter, but then neglected to highlight them throughout your résumé.
9. Less is more
Aim for less, not more. Write less words. Use two colors, not three. Stick to one font, not two. These are lessons I had to learn the hard way, especially when it came to my own résumés and other areas of written work.
The mission here is to generate enough interest in the recruiter or hiring manager to give you a call and find out more about you. You’re the main attraction, not the résumé, so don’t let it run away with the show. Keep it brief, keep it simple, and keep it true.
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Betenwrite.com offers original content focused on personal and professional change, including a résumé design library featuring free and easy-to-edit templates. The mission of the site is to inspire people to let go of the negative stories that are holding them back, and instead start taking real-world steps toward aligning their professional lives with their personal selves.