For many guys, applying for jobs is simple: Find as many listings as possible and fire off a resume to each. Spray and pray that in the hundreds of applications received, your skills and expertise will be noticed.
But praying is not a strategy.
With just a few minutes of tweaking, you can turn your resume strategy from scatter shot into a sniper shot. Use these tips from Kyle LeBlanc, the founder of Resumoxie.com, a resume consulting firm in Washington, DC, to make every application count.
Change your fonts.
“Every guy who sends me his resume uses a standard Word template in Times New Roman,” LeBlanc says. The problem: If it looks like every other resume, it can’t stand out. LeBlanc says to avoid Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri, which are the most common fonts. Instead, she says, you can “stand out safely” and stay professional with Trebuchet, Verdana, Georgia, and Garamond.
“If you’re in a conservative industry, like law, use one of the options with serifs for a more formal look,” she says. That’s how law firms market themselves, so you should, too. But if you’re in a tech industry, think of how Apple markets itself—with sans serif fonts. Follow their lead.
Once you’ve chosen your font, make sure it’s big enough, LeBlanc says. “The biggest mistake I see people make is not paying attention to their readers’ eyesight,” she says. “They’re using a tiny font size and trying to cram everything onto one page.”
The one-page rule isn’t necessary anymore, she says. “People are moving around a lot more than they used to, and they’re acquiring more involved experience earlier in their careers, so there’s more to put on your resume,” she says, which means it can go to a second page. Be concise and choose your best highlights, but if there’s a skill that could get you a job, include it, even if it’s on the second page. And make the type big enough—LeBlanc says a good rule of thumb is never to go below a 10-point font, and to keep margins of at least 0.5 to 0.75 inches on the top, bottom, and sides of each page.
Don’t say what you did, say why it mattered.
Your responsibilities at your job aren’t as important as what you accomplished for the company, LeBlanc says. For instance, if you “wrote blog posts,” the screener has no idea if you were any good at it or why you did it. For each bullet under a job, include three things: What you did, why it mattered, and the numbers or other facts that prove why it mattered.
So you didn’t “write blog posts,” LeBlanc says. You “increased brand awareness through strategic social media channels, including writing blog posts which increased readership by 30 percent over the first two months.” If an employer asks for “brand awareness skills,” you’ve shown that you understand one of the key requirements in the job and through an action you did, and included numbers that back it up. These descriptions, LeBlanc says, should be broken down into bullet points under each job. Each bullet should list the three qualifications described here—competency, action, and factual proof—and should be three lines or fewer.
Get rid of the “Objective” and customize for each job.
This two-sentence blurb is taking up prime real estate, and it’s a waste. “Your objective is to get this job. That’s why you’re sending this resume,” LeBlanc says. So use this space wisely with a summary of your qualifications—a series of three bullets or a short paragraph that offers a glimpse of what the reviewer will see by reading the whole resume.
“If your resume is, overall, saying you have five key skills, outline them here,” she says. “If the screener reads only this, she can hire you from these five lines.”
Here’s an example of such a summary:
Accomplished and adaptable sales professional with flair for small and independent business development, specializing in analytical yet creative approaches to sales and marketing strategies that drive revenue and build brand affinity. Superior relationship builder with outstanding collaborative skills in engaging internal and external stakeholders in achieving operational efficiency and bottom-line results.
LeBlanc says you should customize your resume each time you send it, but if you’re strapped for time, focus on customizing your summary. And do so using the keywords the job ad used to describe the position. “Most applications are being screened using SEO through online portals. Look at the wording the company is using. They’re telling you exactly what they want, and how they want to hear about it,” she says. So if a job is looking for “innovation,” use that in the last line of a summary like the one above. If they’re looking for “strong operational skills,” use those exact words.
“Match their words, and you’re more likely to be found,” she says.