Break All the Rules in Resume Writing to Land the Interview
Last week I went to visit a friend. While we were sitting in her kitchen chatting, I noticed that she had a rotary phone on the wall. When I commented on it, she told me a story about showing her daughter’s teenage friends how to dial on a rotary phone. When they first looked at the phone, they all thought it was broken because there were holes where the numbers were and there were no buttons to press. They also had trouble grasping the concept that your finger has to touch the metal spoke each time you dial an individual number. These kids were so accustomed to dialing on a push button phone that they immediately assumed that any other method was incorrect.
This made me reflect on the way that most people think about resumes. Many seem to think that there is a right way and a wrong way and that if you deviate from the “rules” the resume won’t work. But the reality is that there really is no right or wrong way to craft a resume. The key is to create a document that quickly proves your value and impact to the hiring authority. Here are some resume writing concepts that people often think are wrong that can actually make the resume quite right.
1. Group similar accomplishments by theme. Many people create long lists of accomplishments because they think that is the “way it is done”. But long lists are hard to read and boring. Make your content more dynamic and user-friendly by separating your accomplishments for each position into categories. For example, a sales professional might have categories for sales, account management, and customer service. By creating accomplishment themes and more digestible sound bites of text you can communicate a more compelling message of your value.
2. Add a chart or graph. Sometimes when I suggest this, people think this is an odd thing to have on a resume. But professionals use these visuals regularly when creating presentations for work; why not use similar techniques to communicate your value to an employer? A picture is worth a thousand words. And on a resume, where space is at a premium, a chart or graph demonstrating your impact on the businesses you supported can quickly communicate your core assets. Bar graphs, pie charts, and simple tables are great ways to showcase your greatest achievements.
3. Use color, bold, and shading. Most people think a resume is supposed to be black and white. Period. Why? Design elements such as color, bold, and shading can be used to call attention to key elements in the document or add a bit of uniqueness or personality to the resume.
4. Include a quote from a satisfied customer or supervisor. Again, people often think this is an unusual thing to add to a resume. But why? A resume is a document that advertises your unique value proposition. What better way to drive this point home than to include a quote from another person who can advocate for that value?
In a tough job market, the last thing you want to do is look like everyone else. Step outside what you think is the “right” way to write a resume. Be bold and dare to color outside the lines.