December 18, 2014
By Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, Expert Resume Writer
The average employer spends less than 20 seconds reviewing your resume. In this small amount of time, you need to capture the employer’s attention immediately with the best resume strategies. Over the years, job search and resume writing techniques have evolved as new technologies are adopted for our fast-paced lifestyle. With this in mind, I’m going to provide my top resume tips for 2015 to help you save time and get a head start in your job search.
Resume Tip #1: Breakaway text.
When you read a book or a magazine, you will often notice that different methods are used to guide your attention to important content—things they want you to remember. For instance, they may print certain words in a larger type size—or in a different font. Words may be “set off” by quotation marks, separated by lines, be its own section entirely, or even be in color. All of these serve a purpose—they draw your attention to the one or two lines of text the author “really” wants you to remember.
Use this same strategy on your resume. Consider the most important point you want the employer to walk away with—and capture that in breakaway text within the top half of the first page of your resume. Keep it short. And don’t just give any information—make sure it’s the most compelling point of why they should hire you.
Resume Tip #2: Call-out boxes.
Call-out boxes are along the same lines as breakaway text. The purpose of a call-out box is to bring attention to the information contained within it. These are great for specific keywords or skills you want to bring attention to—or for an endorsement by a previous employer that speaks to your value.
Resume Tip #3: Chart/Graphs/Design.
Don’t be afraid to utilize graphic elements such as charts and graphs. Especially if you have revenue or profits that you can track over several quarters or years. A picture is worth a thousand words—and if you’ve been a powerful revenue generator, this is a resume tip that will serve you well.
Revenue generation not an integral part of your position? That’s OK. You can use charts or graphs to communicate other important info such as customer/client satisfaction, membership rates, or cost savings. If none of these apply, then skip the chart/graph and opt for some other visually engaging design elements like color, borders, or shading. The idea is to engage the reader visually to help make the content easier to digest—and ultimately remembered.
Resume Tip #4: Video resume link.
Video resumes may never replace traditional resumes, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t become a powerful complement to them. More and more job seekers are starting to create 30 to 60 second intro videos so employers can get a better feel for the person’s personality, presence, and cultural fit within the organization. Including a link on your resume to your video resume could prove to be an effective competitive advantage over your competition. I encourage you to consider creating one—and including a link to it on your resume and your social networking profile. There are some video formats that you can post to your profile so employers who visit can watch the video right from your profile.
Resume Tip #5: Value propositions.
Include a value proposition within your resume. Your value proposition is the most persuasive reason why the employer should interview you. You want them to see there’s a benefit to choosing you over another candidate. What expertise or experience can you offer that no other candidate can? This very well may be your value proposition. Use it to your advantage, and communicate that within your resume.
Resume Tip #6: Writing to the audience.
Write to your audience—recruiter, HR, decision maker. Become very savvy about being focused in your job search. A recruiter is looking for a specific set of elements in a resume and cover letter—but the qualifications and skills a potential employer/target company is looking for can be quite different. Recruiters have a different set of criteria of they want to see in a resume. We always advise our clients to customize their resumes to the specifications of the recruiter with whom they’re working—because that recruiter knows his/her clients and what they like to see. There is no one-size-fits-all resume. People who pick up on this and create specific resumes to match targeted positions will see much better resume response rates.
Resume Tip #7: Use a networking resume.
Put together a brief snapshot of your accomplishments and value proposition that you can pass out to your network. It should be short, visually engaging, and benefit-laden. A quick snapshot of what you do and the value you offer gives your network a fuller picture of what you do. And it can actually help them spread the word about your expertise to interested employers—or cause them to think of contacting you if they hear about a great opportunity that aligns with your skill set.
Use a quick, one page bio type of document that doesn’t necessarily cull through your entire career history but instead offers a glimpse into the value and expertise you can offer a future employer—and highlights your achievements and successes most relevant to your career target now. Please note: this is not the ideal piece to put in the hands of a prospective employer—But if you’re networking with family, friends, or connections, some people are more visually inclined. So being able to *see* what you do can help them to help you even more!
Resume Tip #8: Include popular social networking profiles.
Believe it or not, I still hear from job seekers who are not on popular social networking sites and I still see resumes that do not include links to profile URLs. This is a wonderful way to engage your audience and to help them learn more about you and what you have to offer. Don’t neglect to include your social networking profile URLs at the top of your resume where you have your other contact details. And for goodness’ sake, do NOT copy and paste your resume into your profile! Give them different and equally compelling information there.
Resume Tip #9: Delete “General.”
Delete the term “general resume” from your vocabulary altogether. I occasionally have someone call us and ask if we can create a “general resume” for them—and the answer to that is “No.” Well, we could—but it wouldn’t do you any good. A resume is not a place to be a jack-of-all-trades; it’s a place to be specific about how you’ve mastered what you do and how great you are at it. In fact, you’re so awesome at it that the employer needs to interview you or they’re going to lose out on some pretty great benefits. So the next time you feel slightly tempted to create a general resume…RUN! Instead, create a master resume—and then pull information from that master resume to create more focused versions that you can use to apply to specific opportunities.
Resume Tip #10: Jump off the job board bandwagon.
Employers are jumping ship—and it’s probably time you did too. This year, I’ve made it my mission to bust the job search myth that applying on or posting your resume to job boards are the only ways you can find a job. Using job boards should be only 20 percent of your job search efforts. The other 80 percent should be invested in other methods such as informational interviewing, networking, cold calling, direct-mail campaigns, targeting specific employers, or researching decision makers.
The frustration and hopelessness job seekers feel stems primarily from a lack of knowledge about other ways to job search. They hop onto the job boards, start applying away—and never hear anything back. Then they end up thinking their expertise isn’t valued, or that there are no jobs out there—when the truth of the matter is…
There are lots of jobs out there. They’re just not all on job boards.
Take some time to educate yourself about alternative methods for job searching. It will take far less time than you think…and yield far better response rates than anything you’ll get from a job board. I foresee a swift decline in the number of job seekers using job boards this coming year.
And while I’m on that topic, let me just say this about that. I am not against job boards. I am against the misconception that job boards are the exclusive way to find a job—and that a job seeker’s efforts should be focused exclusively online. This creates frustration and despair for far too many people.
So there you have it…my top ten resume tips for 2015. The last resume tip may have been a combination of resume and job search, but the point stands. These are the tips and trends that I see making the biggest impact on your job search in 2015. What’s your best resume tip for 2015? I’d love to hear it! Please feel free to share it with me below.
About the Author
Jessica Hernandez, is a resume authority for the Job Talk America radio program and multi-published expert author for resume, career, and job search publications. She boasts more than ten years in human resources management and hiring for Fortune 500 companies and utilizes her extensive experience to support job seekers in their quest to move onward and upward in their careers. Find out more at Great Resumes Fast.