It’s the last half of July, you’re looking for a job, you have no interviews lined up, and school starts in a month or less (or 40 days if you live in Texas). You have all the skills and experience in the world, but simply get no phone calls. The old adage goes, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.” So change something. Let’s see if maybe your resume needs a total makeover.
I am amazed when I look at most resumes. They generally look bland, boring, and banal. As Louise Flethcer writes:
Your resume is a marketing brochure, not a product catalog. It has to say just enough to make the sale and not a word more.
So how are you marketing yourself?
Most people have a terrible job marketing themselves. Myself included. For proof of this, look at the “About Me” section on most MySpace or Facebook profiles. They usually start with something like, “Wow, how do I describe myself? Well, I’m a pretty laid back person, like to have fun, love music, and hanging out with friends.” Just like everybody else. Resumes often do the same thing. Objective: To teach children English. Well, you applied as an English teacher, we never saw that one coming, right? Here’s what my resume looks like, with a few details changed to preserve anonymity.
Do something different (Six ways to stand out)
It’s easy to open up Microsoft Word and go through the Resume Wizard and produce the same format that everyone else has. But do you do anything beyond that? If not, what are you waiting for?
As I’ve mentioned before, it is vital that your sales pitch stands out. With all of the heaps of bullet points and Times New Roman that the interviewers have on their desk, they must start to get tunnel vision. The Fish! Philosophy says you should Make their day! So get out there and give the Human Resources a reason to call you in.
Here are six things you can do immediately that will make your resume stand out from the crowd.
- Change your font to Georgia
Georgia was made specifically to be easy to read on paper. Because of the way it is spaced, it is also very easy to read on screens. For this reason, one of the first changes I made to the layout of this website is to make the font Georgia. In fact, as we’ll look at later, spacing your letters can have a huge impact. While doing research to write this article, I decided to try changing the spacing of letters on this site. What a huge difference it makes! Don’t just take my word. Look here, here, here, and here. The last one is a wonderful article about designing a resume that you really ought to check out anyway.
- Eliminate bullet points
Maybe. There are some who say that bullet points should be a staple of your resume. There are others who say they should be avoided like the plague. I tend to go toward the idea of avoiding them. Why? Because Word’s default resume templates all have bullet points. We want to stand out.
- Tell a story instead of simply listing experiences
Since you are marketing yourself, you need to sell yourself to the prospective employer. How do we do this? By telling a story. So how do you tell a story in your resume?
- Prove your value
Outline achievements rather than experiences. Going by the blog mentality, you might even try using bold formatting to draw focus to action points. This is especially important if you eliminate bullets. Remember, you have to sell yourself to the prospective employer. With this in mind, make sure they know why you are vital to their organization (school district in our case).You also need to place your most important accomplishments at the beginning. In fact, maybe omit the rest of the details.
- Reduce words
Check out these two articles. Edit Your Writing and Are You Saying Too Much? The key is to get rid of superfluous information. This is not to say you have to limit your resume to one page. Put as much information as necessary, but only as much as necessary.
- Play with your formatting
Maybe you have a page and a quarter of information. This isn’t a great idea. A great place to start is to add or remove whitespace. Whitespace does not have to be outside the text either. Adjust line spacing, adjust character spacing, adjust font sizes, etc. This article on LifeClever is what helped me to totally transform my resume format. It looks great now.
If you’ve been having trouble getting interviews, it won’t hurt to at least try some of these points. Will it?