Most employers only spend a few seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether it merits further attention. Making the most of that first scan can mean the difference between landing a job and your resume landing in a pile with those of other rejected applicants. Employing elements of creative design and language can help you do that, but only up to a point.
Given that so much of today’s job search process occurs digitally, you can start by making sure you have a resume that will be easy to manage in a computerized system. Avoid using unusual fonts, indenting, bullets, and boxes, each of which can cause trouble digitally. In addition, be sure to incorporate some keywords your potential employer may be looking for, in case they start their process with a computerized resume search.
The writing in your resume also matters. Stick to powerful verbs whenever possible. Accounts of your accomplishments that use dynamic words like “improved” and “resolved” stand out more than more understated descriptions of your duties. Make sure to highlight your successes with numbers wherever possible, especially if you can cast them in terms of a percentage increase. Including any awards or recognitions you have received will also demonstrate to your potential employer that you will be a valuable addition to their company.
If it seems appropriate, also consider including personal details about yourself. Offering your employer a little information that doesn’t directly relate to your search for work may help them see you as a person and cause your resume to stand out from others. Stay away from the temptation to include a photo, as many employers must discard resumes with photos for legal reasons, and avoid subjects that might be controversial, like politics and religion. However, feel free to include a few words about your hobbies, particularly if they might portray you in a positive light.