[Work It] Ramp Up Your Resume



From the moment we’re thrust into the world of academia, there’s a lingering air left over us that we’re destined to pursue our dream career and land our dream job.  For some of us, that’s a tried and true reality; but that reality comes with sacrifices that tend to not be talked about: the fiscal rewards seem inversely proportional to the facets of our life that we sacrifice.  Friendships, from familial to romantic, are thrust onto the back burner while deferred dreams evolve into the norm.

But then, on the flip side, there are others like myself included that are still passionately prowling for what makes sense to them. We’ve watched as hobbies and skills learned vocationally have developed into tangible career path, and our academic degrees have signified less and less, eventually fading away into obscurity on a wall in your home office as resolute proof of a life once lived.  Regardless of your career choice, one truth I’ve learned about the working world is you should always be open to the variety of options out there, because you simply don’t know what doors of opportunity you might be knocking on in the future.

Over the last month, I’ve migrated roles in my part time position into a interim Human Resources guru and I’ve seen a lot – I mean a – LOT – of resumes fly my way.  Some are stellar and some not so much, but it’s made the wheels of my mind work in new and different ways.  I’ve found that whether it’s a do or a don’t, each and every resume has valuable insight – from elevating my syntax or word choice, adjusting my work history, delving into my skill set or omitting prior experience that has little to nothing to do with the new role. Beyond now owing myself an actual resume refresh with some of the new skills I’ve learned while taking in the hiring process, I finally have some wisdom to impart on the topic. Whether you’ve had your job for a month or a year, having an up to date resume that you can send out on a whim is clutch – and could land you the opportunity of a lifetime.




 ‘Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.’
– Rachel Zoe –
Granted, I don’t think Rachel Zoe was referring to reviving your resume – but for all intensive purposes, for now – let’s just pretend she was.  Even though the proof of the pudding  is your content, the style and formatting of your resume are the first impression, and you know what they say about first impressions: it’s best to make a good one.  Your resumes style should say as much about your personality as the words on the page, not to mention – it’s your first foot in the door with an employer.
I’ve found that a resume with an elegantly simple yet beautiful style will get passed on 9 times out of 10 over a plain text resume, while a standard plain text resume with proper margins and headers sounds ideal compared to a one haphazardly strewn together, without margins or any form of structure.  But let’s back up a bit and get to the basics of resume formatting.
Traditionally, your resume should have the most important information on the top and left side, while the less important information is left for the right side and the bottom.  This is because of two schools of thought – one, is that only the first few words of each line are even read – so those need to be the most important; the other is that resumes tend to be folded in half, and sometimes they stay that way – meaning anything ‘below the fold’ goes unseen.
The crux of your resume itself should be single spaced, with a 12 point font for the body.  Mind your margins and as a general rule of thumb, leave at least .5″ on the right and left sides, and you can go down to .25″ for the header and footer margin.Keep in mind that too much text is overwhelming and  having some white space is pleasing to the eye.  Bullet points for positions and professions should be limited to two lines maximum, but one if possible.  Whatever you do, please use proper case for your resume – take it from personal experience, a resume in all capitals is anxiety inducing and can basically guarantee that your resume will be sent to the bottom of the barrel. When it comes to style – consistency is key, make sure the body of your resume is all in the same font, size and color.  And last, but certainly not least – use spell check and be careful not to jump between tenses.
Like your Cover Letter, your resume should stick to one page – if you’re a creative, you can use the second page for projects and publications, but for your resume itself – it shouldn’t be one page and a paragraph – not even one full page and a trailing sentence on the next; one page, and one page only.  If you need a place for overflow information, try an online supplement like an About.Me page or LinkedIn profile. For those that consider themselves slightly more web savvy with a lot to say – try your hand at building your own webpage, not only is it a phenomenal reference point for any future employer but now you’ve already added new skill sets like Website Development, Search Engine Optimization, Google Analytics and Google Adwords. visual resume
Benefits of a Visual Resume
For anyone who’s pursuing a more creative avenue like  Graphic Design, Photography, Public Relations or Videography – you know how to best represent yourself, and it’s not in the old humdrum way you’re used to.  You deserve pizzazz, you deserve some pomp and a you deserve nothing but the best of circumstances. A visual resume is incredibly befitting and will show employers that you’re prepared to bring your A game to the table at a moments notice.


If you’ve got a friend in graphic design, grab’em – because their resumes are honestly instantly more creative and competitive than the rest of us. From simple additions like adjusting the flow of information or using columns to organize individual sections to more complex ones like including graphic images, social media icons and infographics to represent quantitative data – I’ve been blown away by how crafty some applicants are.  Word to the wise though, always save these types of resumes as a PDF – that way, the text doesn’t run  a muck and lose formatting when it’s uploaded to your employers website.


Now that we’ve got your resume looking good and feeling great, it’s time to conquer the content of your resume – because when you get down to brass tax – the content is the product. For your resume less actually is more: with less fluff you give the reader a chance to focus on what’s important.    Let’s start at the top of the resume and work down to the bottom.

HeaderYour full address isn’t necessary, but your city and state are valuable to the employer – as is a link to a variety of different digital media profiles, from Twitter to Facebook and LinkedIn.  Just remember, these will be checked – so best to keep them clean!

ObjectiveUnless you’re making a drastic career shift or have just graduated from college or university – the ‘Objective’ statement on the top should either be eliminated or simply moved over to  your cover letter.

Work HistoryAfter a certain point in your career, you don’t need to tell your collective work history – you can start piece by piece, picking and choosing –  including only the professions that apply to the new job.  Move anything that’s not pertinent to a ‘Master Resume‘ that chronicles your entire job history, including remedial internships and part time gigs.  However, for the resume you ship around to prospective employers, it’s best to keep off any short term job that spanned for less than four months.

Each employment experience should have between 2 and 4 key notes, including key learnings, moments of growth, and acquired skills – all driven by powerful verbs. If possible, use numbers to drive your points home – not only are they a simpler way of determining value, but quantitative figures will make you stand out. Your history doesn’t necessarily need to be in a linear order – this segment should tell a story and read with your strongest applied skill set for the job at the top, then descending on downwards by rank of importance.  Omit your salary history – that’s a conversation for later down the road.

Education: Now that we’re finally out of college, our GPA and graduation date don’t matter as much as our degree itself, the honors and awards we received and the organizations we belonged to.  Did you go Greek? Work on the school newspaper? Have an hour segment on the radio station? Graduate with honors?  Volunteer at a local shelter?  All of these qualities are foundations of well rounded employees with a variety of brain stimulating hobbies.


Skills:  In 2016, there are some skills I just hope you have under your belt and believe you me – I’ve seen it all: Myers Briggs Personality Types,  ‘Fluent in English’, ‘Smart Phones and ‘Googling’.  Though I’m actually a fan of the first, what I realize is that all of these facets can pigeonhole an employee, or even prevent them from moving along in the hiring process.   USPS isn’t difficult to navigate, neither is Facebook.  But Facebook Page Analytics and Insuring International Shipments are two completely different stories.As a general rule of thumb, if you have to ask – you should probably just leave it out.

Posting and Hosting 

Before you save your resume, convert it to a PDF and preserve any creative or graphic elements.  Save the file  using your name + ‘Resume’ and the Date, and save it into a master directory  with all of your old resumes. That way, you’re ready to send on the fly moving forward.   As far as posting your resume online, there are several free options – including Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn; or, store a text version of your resume on About.me and a graphic representation on Visualize.Me – the possibilities are endless!  Now go on,  get out – and get hired!

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