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Before You Do That Cool New Thing on Your Resume, Ask This

11 Feb 2021 7:25 PM | Anonymous

By Marie Zimenoff

Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy

You want to be on top of your game and have the skills you need to move forward in your career. Keeping up with trends is a good goal, but it is equally important to understand how these trends apply to your situation. Trends can be confusing—especially when it comes to resumes!

Having a good resume that stands out improves your chances of getting an interview. However, before you jump into doing that cool new thing with your resume, ask this: Does that make sense for my target audience? 

Understanding your target audience—your target companies—entails knowing the type of business, geography, and a little bit of its company culture. Traditional companies have certain expectations different from the techy ones such as Google or Apple, where you could be trendier with your resume. 

Here’s a run-down on a few cool new things to help you decide which you might incorporate based on your target audience and the position you are targeting. What makes sense for you to communicate your value and fit?

First-person point of view summary

You have probably seen articles talking about having the human voice in your resume, especially in your summary, and telling your story in the first-person point of view to make it more accessible. It is not a bad strategy if you are applying to more “hip” contemporary companies. 

However, if you are applying to more traditional companies, they are going to see the use of pronouns in your resume as unprofessional. They expect it in a cover letter and on your LinkedIn profile. Your resume, according to those traditional people, is going to be more of a formal document where you are telling your story, but you're doing it in a professional way.

Those 2 things are not mutually exclusive. You do not have to use “I, me, and my” in your resume to tell your story in first person. Write short, crisp stories and cut down the flowery language. You can still tell your story in short little sound bites that start with a verb. The most powerful stories are specific accomplishments from your work.

If you write assuming the first-person pronouns (I, me, and my) but not actually put them in the sentence, your resume will still be in first person.

For example, “I managed.” In the resume, you write: “Managed a team of engineers.” That is a first-person voice. If you write “manages,” you’ve slipped into third person because the assumed pronoun is “he/she.” This is a frequent misunderstanding in resume writing that you need a pronoun for it to be first person.

Infographic resume

Use the resume to communicate your business value. When you use graphics, whatever great data you have in the graphics does not go through an applicant tracking system (ATS). If you are applying online, it is not being scored by that system to help determine whether or not you get an interview. It is also not being looked at by the first reviewer of that data. If you are not applying online, it may not matter.

NOTE: the text in resumes with graphics will still be read by most ATS!   

Good graphics tell a story. Most of the infographic resumes that use graphics for the sake of graphics do not add value. They are not building a picture of your success. Employers want to know the things that will help you do your job better. If your strength is in design, you do not want to cram your portfolio on your resume, right? Have a digital portfolio that highlights your work using multimedia and direct people to it from your resume.

When you are thinking about those graphics, they need to have a purpose. They need to be balanced with content if you are applying online so that that content gets through the scanners. If you are thinking it is appropriate for you to do an infographic resume in addition to your traditional resume, look at examples and figure out how you can create graphics that tell a story that is relevant for you, your career, and that target employer. 

Most of the more traditional employers are not ready for your infographic resume, especially if you are applying online.

Learn more about infographic resumes, when to use them, and how to create them.

Candy wrapper resume

There are available templates online that can help you create a candy wrapper where, instead of the nutritional information, it includes your details, experience, skills, and anything you want to add. This cannot replace a resume, but it can be an additional part of your package as it can help you capture attention and stand out. You need 2 different things: that interest catcher, little snippets of your resume that you have made creatively, and then your normal resume to send to the human resources for the process of hiring. 

Single-page or mobile resume

The acceptable length of a resume is constantly shifting and a bit more complex. The length of your resume depends on the amount of relevant content you have and the level of position you are targeting. Most of the time when you hear someone say you should have a 1-page resume, it is because they hire more entry-level positions. 

Recent research shows that 2-page resumes can be more effective for experienced professionals. This makes sense because the hiring managers need to know more about your qualifications and others applying to the same position will have experience that requires a 2-page resume and if you only have a 1-page resume you appear less qualified.

Some hiring managers may pull up your resume on their mobile phones, so you make sure it is easy to skim through the pages. This might end up being longer so that you can have some white space. You want to see how your resume looks on mobile, so pull it up on yours before submitting it.

Most hiring managers are still looking for a good amount of content because they have so many qualified candidates that they need content to decide who gets an interview. They are going to look at LinkedIn, but they wanted a little bit of different kind of content—more story, more personable. They still need the facts and figures on your traditional resume that they can put into that wonderful circular file, which most HR departments still have (even if it is digital).

We are in a gray area with the right length of a resume, but most people are still submitting a 2-page resume for a manager and director level position; 2 to 3 pages for an executive level position; and 1-page resumes for positions requiring around 5 years experience or less. Experienced job seekers can still have a 1-page “marketing brief” for when it is appropriate or a 1-page resume is requested. 

You can also ask for guidance or advice from a resume specialist.

No resume at all 

Does your LinkedIn profile serve as your resume? When you are applying to a position, a person might see you on LinkedIn and decide to reach out to you, but they will still ask for a resume. Why? Go into LinkedIn and print off your profile and you will find out how hard it is to maneuver as a PDF file. 

It is messy for HR managers to print out your LinkedIn profile and put it in their circular file (hard copy or digital), so they can say they did their research. Most HR departments are still required to do their research and that they followed their equal opportunity laws, rules, or regulations to have some documentation. A LinkedIn profile captured at one point in time is probably not going to meet that need in terms of their regulation.

The LinkedIn profile is definitely part of the picture, but it does not replace a resume yet until it can be verified, stamped, and printed easily, or eventually when HR is going paperless. But from what I have seen, they are just not there yet. It could be or should be at this point, it is just not there.

Your picture

Do not put your picture on a resume, unless you are a pharmaceutical sales rep or a realtor, or your picture is part of the industry. Putting a picture creates legal and equal opportunity issues. People do not need that additional temptation for it to be considered discrimination. Most American companies and/or global companies probably do not want to see your picture at this point.

One of the company trends is avoiding from sharing any information with their hiring teams when they are screening applicants. The HR persons might see your resume, but, at some companies, they are actually removing your name, school names, and other little pieces of information which they found most people might base decisions on, but do not have any correlation to your success in that job. 

Dates

Some people leave out their dates of graduation on their resume because it was in the 80s or they think it is not relevant. It is fine to leave off those graduation dates. However, the most important details employers are looking for when they look at your resume are your former titles and corresponding companies and employment dates. They want to see that structure. Where have you been? What have you been doing?

If you are hiding those, it is going to hurt you. Dates do not need to be the first thing people see. They do not need to be on the left side of your resume, which is a strange new trend (maybe a cool throwback hipster thing?). Dates belong on the right-hand side and can actually be tucked in right next to your title and company. If they are out on the right margin, the dates call a lot of attention and again, that is not what we are marketing. We are marketing our title and relevant experience. 

Colors and fancy fonts

You can put shading behind your name so it will show up on the document when the other person opens it. You can use a fancy font, although you need to be careful with that. Your resume is better to be in a Word document, not in PDF, as a PDF file may not get scored on an applicant tracking system (and just isn’t worth the risk!). 

Send a Word document with your resume and choose a common font, as most cool fonts will not show up on their computers. They will be converted into fun little things called Wingdings, which are squares and other characters that 99.9% of people cannot read, translate, and comprehend.

You can use colors on a resume. However, you want to think about where it is drawing the eye. Does that color align with the company you are applying for? Maybe it is part of their brand colors. Is it part of your brand color? It is valuable if there is a meaning behind your choice of colors. 

Get more formatting tips and tricks! 

Live links

If you are inserting a live link in your resume to pull up your LinkedIn profile, it needs to be customized, personalized. You can Google how to customize your LinkedIn URL. It is something that you can use and helps it look more like a marketing document. Note that many companies' security systems break live links in documents. If you just put “LinkedIn Profile” in the resume with a link to your profile it is likely they will not be able to click on it. Use the critical part of the URL: LinkedIn.com/in/mariezimenoff

Video resume

A video resume does not exist—it is a myth. Nobody is watching them. However, video is a substantial part of your overall branding package. It is not going to be on a resume. I would not encourage you to spend the time or money making a “video resume” where you talk about yourself for 90 seconds.

What does work is a video of you presenting something relevant to your field that you can upload to your LinkedIn profile. It can be a short video of you talking about a subject matter expertise. Sharing some knowledge and even a voiceover of a presentation can fill that video gap. You may share your knowledge and your story in the video, but not a verbatim of the narrative of your resume. 

Before you try that cool new thing on your resume, consult a professional resume writer! Visit our resume writer directory.

If you want to be up on the latest trends, earn your Academy Certified Resume Writer credential and have lifetime access to our community and trend updates.

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