Let’s fix this.
Why your resume format matters
While we would all love to live in a world where people are evaluated for jobs based on their true merits, right now resumes are a required evil to get your foot in the door. So you’ve got to get your true merits onto the resume, to show what you’re capable of. Yes, I just called my job a required evil.
The format does matter – and I’m not talking about the pretty, multi-color, columned resumes that are everywhere right now. I’m talking about a format that helps your resume to be read by the most important readers – recruiters and hiring managers. The format helps your true merits stand out. You want to make a good impression, so it’s best to make it easy on them. Don’t ask them to hunt for information with a too-busy format. But give them enough bells and whistles to be interested. Does that sound too hard? Let’s break it down.
Resume formatting mistakes and how to fix them
Here are some of the worst resume format offenders I see and how to fix them:
No formatting – you’ve got to have some formatting. Simple is great and modern, but no horizontal lines or sections just looks like a list you made – and makes you appear more junior than you are. (Shout out to my NYC clients who want the simplest, cleanest resumes but understand the need for sections.)
Not labeling sections. What am I looking at here? Skills? Accomplishments? Your grandmother’s pecan pie recipe? Please tell me what section this is so I can manage my expectations. (Heads up: the best pecan pie is the Dear Abby recipe.)
Not having a title. You get to give yourself a title, at the top of your resume, under your name. It’s almost as good as naming yourself. Use strong language here to identify your roles and top skills here. What are you known for? What skills have you recently developed? What skills do you have that (and this is the most important) MATCH the skills of the job you’re applying for?
You deserve a resume that speaks highly of you – your accomplishments, your empathetic leadership, your education, your expertise, and the list goes on.
Don’t settle for a mediocre resume when you are so clearly awesome.