I’ve been reviewing a lot of resumes this week. It’s not a task that I like doing. Why? Because once you’ve reviewed 2 or 3 the rest seem to look the same.
Bland and Boring
Yes they all look the same. Lots of black text on white. Black on white.
Most candidates use the same words or phrases, cramming lots of text onto a page often with information that makes them look bland and boring. Ah I hate it. I’m visual person and dislike how resumes have just not moved on.
As I sat at my desk with the resumes in front of me, I started to think how you could make your resume stand out.
Resumes – 7 Laws
There are, I believe 7 Laws of a great resume:
Law 1: Don’t use lots of meaningless words
I wrote an article about the ’28 Overused Meaningless Words’ that appear on resumes. Avoid them. They are too generic and don’t provide any detail about you.
Law 2: Long sentences and paragraphs
Why anyone thinks this is a way to stand out, I will never know.
Use short sentences and break up text either in paragraphs or use bullet points. James Patterson is one of the world’s best selling authors. His books engage the reader, because he keeps up the pace of the story. How? By using simple language with short sentences.
Long sentences do not portray intelligence.
Law 3: Fonts
Why use 1 font when 4 will do?
Fonts are a good way of breaking up what you’ve written. But too many looks as though they’ve been copy and pasted from another document. Keep your resume simple.
While I’m on the subject of fonts, get the size of them right too. Most candidates make them too small, to cram lots of information on to a page. It just makes them too difficult to read.
Law 4: Being specific
Too many times resumes are bland. Most look and read the same. They say nothing about you as the person.
If you’re generic, you’re bland. Show your personality in your resume by being specific. Remember this is a document that is meant to intrigue and highlight why a recruiter would want to interview you.
Law 5: Number of Pages
There used to be a rule when I first started work that you should get your resume onto no more than 2 pages. That’s evolved now.
I’ve had resumes that are just 1 page long and recently I had one that was 8 pages long. What length is right? Somewhere between 2 to 4 pages would be my recommendation.
Remember get the content right to showcase you and the length doesn’t matter that much. But don’t go for 8 pages I don’t need your life story.
Law 6: Spelling & Punctuation
A resume is one of the most important documents you will ever write. It’s a shame some candidates don’t take the time to check what they’ve written.
It is not unusual to see spelling mistakes and poor punctuation. For something so important, get someone else to check it. For important documents I always ask someone else to check my work and make comments. It’s a good practice to get into.
Law 7: Formatting
This is the big one. Most resumes look the same. As I mentioned earlier lots of black text on white.
In a day and age when we are use to seeing much more creativity, you can make your resume stand out by doing something different. Add colour to your resume. Recruiters read resumes on a computer screen first. Colour will help you stand out. And wherever possible include graphics to highlight key points.
There you are, the 7 Laws of Resumes. Follow the 7 and you’ll be on your way to standing out from the ‘black on white text’ crowd.