Résumé porn.

It’s all over the internet. In fact, you’ve probably downloaded it recently. ‘fess up!

*blush*

You know what I’m talking about – those résumé templates on steroids, claiming to be the holy grail of résumé creation.  They’re totally bad-ass and dressed to kill with embedded images, colour, and cool looking infographics.

They’re the kind of designs that make you feel like your current résumé isn’t good enough. You’re afraid that if you stick with your plain-jane document, you might miss out on some great opportunities. Suddenly you feel résumé shame.

Let’s be honest, these uber-designs have a seductive quality about them. It’s hard to take your eyes off of them. They make you think they’re going to get you the kind of results you want. Like you’re going to attract all kinds of interest.  Right?

Not necessarily.

I reluctantly admit that many of these résumé templates look great, but it’s mostly just a façade. They really aren’t designed to address substance.

Because their layouts focus primarily on creating instant visual impact, they typically lack the three key ingredients that are critical to making your résumé an effective marketing tool, the sole purpose of which is to attract the right kind of interviews.

In fact, if you don’t include these three things, you could seriously reduce the chances of your résumé ever being seen, read, and selected for the interview.

The magic trio is:

 

Readability

 

Content 

 

and my personal favourite

 

ATS-friendly

 

Yeah, I know it’s not sexy, but this shit works.

To improve your chances of your résumé making it into the hands of the recruiter and hiring manager, you need to create a document that’s “ATS-friendly”, has excellent readability, and awesome content that makes the reader want to keep reading.

Résumé templates (particularly the super-duper fancy ones) don’t typically address those 3 things.

Create readability

The better the readability, the better your résumé’s chances of making it over the two biggest hurdles.  Both the computer applicant tracking systems (ATS) and the human reader must be able to scan the résumé quickly and easily without missing or misinterpreting information.

Since the human spends only a few seconds on physically scanning your document during their first pass, readability is particularly important.

The problem with many résumé templates is that they are full of design elements that disrupt the scanning process. Many recruiters and hiring managers don’t like templates because they’re often hard to scan quickly, forcing the reader’s eye to jump all over the place to find the desired information which is often lacking.  This results in an annoying process, not to mention a severe eye ache.

Many of the computer systems have a hard time making sense of the over designed documents and in some cases will give up and reject them altogether. Something as simple as using underlines or a too-fancy font can send your résumé to the bottom of the pile, never to be seen.

A Word document that uses a simple design that allows the computer and human reader to scan left to right with no design elements that break up this flow has a way better chance of making it through both filters.

Deliver strong content

Repeat after me:  “Content is king. Content is king. Content is king”.

It’s context. It’s scope. It’s a story. It’s substance.

I don’t care if it’s selling cars, toilet paper, or a person – the product and message might be different, but the methodology is the same.  You need to address your target audience’s pain points by communicating what kind of viable solutions you offer. That’s your value.  It’s marketing 101.

If you don’t have relevant content (that matches the job description) your résumé will likely not make it past the first gate – the dreaded applicant tracking system which rejects about 75% of the résumés.   Then, it must impress the human reader who rejects about another 75%.

If you do the math, over 90% of the résumés are never considered, regardless of how qualified the job seeker might be.

So, your content better answer their one big, burning question:

“Why should I care?”

 

Make it compelling

Good résumé content delivers your value message in a way that’s clear, concise, and compelling. In other words, it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, makes sense to the average reader, and is as brief as humanly possible.

Good content answers the reader’s “Why should I care?” question in about 6-seconds because that’s all the time you have to get your value message across during the human’s first pass.

Good content utilizes appropriate keywords/phrases and strong impact statements in order to tell your story in a way that’s to-the-point.

Unfortunately, good content is the most difficult part of the résumé to create and the thing that everyone struggles with including me, and I do this for a living.

Make it ATS friendly

The only way your résumé has a hope in hell of being the reported 25% that make it past the computer applicant tracking systems, is to make it “ATS-friendly” which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.   There are about 200 different systems that reject about 75% of the résumés that are uploaded online.  Not very friendly if you ask me!

Making an ATS-friendly résumé requires an actual strategy that no template is going to address.  There are just too many things to consider that go beyond a nice looking layout, cool images, fancy fonts, and bold colours.

Tailor your résumé for each position

One of the most effective strategies is to customize your résumé for each position to ensure it scores well when it’s being scanned by the ATS and human reader.  This involves creating a keyword-rich and accomplishment-based document that addresses all the job requirements directly and uses strong impact statements.

Sending out the same, generic, one-size-fits-all document is not going to get a high score and probably won’t be seen.

Keep it simple!

The second key thing is to create a simple document (preferably in Word) that is free of any fancy design elements such as text boxes, graphs, colour, photos, and anything that’s embedded.  Even columns and tables can be problematic.

Don’t go cookie-cutter

Résumé templates are just that – a template. They are a cookie-cutter approach to résumé writing which is exactly the thing you need to avoid at all costs.

Your résumé should be laid out in a way that best showcases your specific and unique abilities and accomplishments.  This means that your document will look different to someone else’s even if they have a similar job function.

I also find many templates use outmoded or downright incorrect practices. You need a document that incorporates up-to-date strategies, otherwise you’re going to date yourself.

Templates aren’t the answer

A résumé template does NOT write your résumé .  You’re going to have to come up with great content and find a layout that works for your specific situation.

What to do?

If you want to go the DIY approach, you can research résumés online in your job function/industry to get some inspiration but don’t ever copy them.  You need to use your own experience and words. Start with a clean slate. Open up a Word document, create a simple layout, and start typing.

To be honest, the layout/design is the easy part, it’s creating the content that’s killer.

Hi!  I’m Diana.

I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience which enables me to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired.  You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.

Need help? I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re in the midst of a job search and not getting the results you want or you’re thinking of making a change and want to make sure you get started off on the right foot, I recommend you reach out for some help.  You can contact me directly here!

If you haven’t done so already, you can download free résumé help below:

“20 Quick Fixes To Common Résumé Fails That Might Be Hurting Your Job Search”

“Make Your Résumé An Interview Magnet: How To Customize Your Résumé To Help You Stand Out, Get Noticed, And Get Hired!”

I look forward to helping you with your career success!

Diana