For most of us, the pain point of presenting a resume with a job application comes down to working out what should go into it. Most employers these days stipulate a short resume – some only want a single page – and honing down your experience into a short form while not missing key details that could score you that next job can be really hard work.
I can’t help you with working out what experience to put down and what to skip, or in assisting you in getting that experience in the first place.
What I can do is point you to the tools you may already have access to that can help add the right design notes to your resume to help it really stand out. I’m using Microsoft Word as it’s all but the standard in word processing, but other packages such as Apple’s Pages can also perform most of these same tasks too.
You don’t have to start with a blank page
If you’re writing your first resume (or your first one for a while) it can be hard staring at a blank page trying to work out where to begin. Thankfully, Microsoft Word has ready-to-go templates that can help you build out a resume nice and quick. If you choose File > New From Template, you’ll open Word’s template view, which includes templates for calendars, greeting cards and multiple resume styles.
Most of Word’s inbuilt resumes will give you quick suggestions of what to throw into each section of the document if you’re starting totally fresh here. You can also link into Microsoft-owned LinkedIn to see what others put on their resumes or download additional resume templates to find one that not only matches your personal style, but also the likely intent of your hopefully-soon-to-be place of employment.
You shouldn’t write just one resume
Back in the pre-PC age, it made a certain amount of sense to write out a resume once and photocopy it a bunch of times, because typing it out each time was intensely time consuming.
That’s not a constraint with a digital document, and it’s not smart when you’re going for different jobs. It’s well worth tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for – after all, hiring managers are more likely to take you on for that retail job if you highlight your retail experience, while office managers might be less fussed about that and more interested in your white-collar experience.
A well-tailored resume can make a world of difference, so always consider saving and having multiple resume variants to hand. This can also help if you’re on a longer job search because a resume tailored to land you one job could be used (or tweaked) to apply for another down the track. Maybe just don’t let your current boss see that you’re working on it on the company computer, OK?
Always include a header and footer
Headers and footers are those pieces of information at the top and bottom of a page; in a book they’d be page numbers and maybe chapter names, but on a resume, they can (and should be) your key information, especially if your resume application allows for more than a single page resume to be submitted.
Adding a footer or header is quite easy; just click on Insert and then either Header or Footer (depending on your layout and needs) to create text that will be appended to every page. Bear in mind that your layout view (View> and then your choice of layout) may mean that you don’t always see your added details on each digital version of your resume page.
It’s great to stand out – but not too much
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule (all employers are different) but while you do want your resume to stand out from the pile, it should be by making you look highly suitable and employable.
Not because you decided to send in your resume in a wild and wacky collection of fonts and colours, unless you’re going for a job as a font designer, I suppose.
It is a good idea to make some key details (like your name) a little larger than other sections to stand out, but there’s also every chance that an overly “showy” resume will make it seem like you’re compensating for a lack of real qualifications for a given position. The KISS principle (Keep it simple, sweetheart) applies here!
Is it for digital, or print?
Lots of employers will only want digital resumes these days, but not all of them, and that’s where you do need to consider the layout and size of your resume.
It’s generally not a good look to go for a double-sided resume in most cases, but nobody interviewing potential employees wants to read something longer than The Lord of The Rings either!
You should also consider what you’re going to print it on; if your home printer’s seen better days or delivers sketchy results, that’s probably not going to land you the job.
Your local Officeworks store has a wide range of affordable printers if it’s time for an upgrade. If you don’t have or want a home printer, you can also always bring your documents into your local Officeworks stores to get them printed professionally for you.