There's a hard line between making your resume stand out, and over styling it to the point of being distracting.
My client Jason was learning that the hard way.
Jason was looking for a career in graphic design, so he decided to trick out his resume to show off his skills.
He came to me wondering why no one was calling him in for an interview. I pointed out that his contact info was all but camouflaged in one of his designs.
Your resume is an essential marketing document meant to showcase your skill set and work accomplishments. But for someone whose work is extremely visual, like Jason, creative projects are best displayed in your portfolio rather than worked into your resume.
When you're up against 118 other candidates on average, you want to catch the recruiter's eye - but without overdoing it. Here are a few tips for styling your resume the right way.
1. Ditch the creative template.
On average, recruiters spend about six seconds looking at your resume. If they're distracted by your artsy template or can't find what they're looking for easily, it's going in the trash. If you do get called in for an interview, don't even think about printing it out on a decorative piece of paper, either. 22% of recruiters say doing so also makes your resume trash worthy.
2. Keep it to one page.
Unless you have more than 10 years of work experience, your resume should absolutely not be more than a page. If you have an extensive work history despite not being over the 10 year mark, you may want to include a summary statement to help hit all the points you want to make as far as your skill set and expertise goes. If you do have 10+ years of experience, make sure you put your resume header on the second page, too.
3. Make the font size at 11 or bigger.
I can't stress this enough: Your resume needs to be easy to read. If a hiring manager is having to squint at your size 10 font, well, they're just not going to read it. There's actually data to suggest that a resume with fonts smaller than size 11 statistically results in less interviews. If you're having a hard time getting it all on one page, decreasing your font size is just not the answer.
4. No cute fonts or colors.
Don't write your resume in Wingdings. Or Comic Sans. Or anything that makes your letters have additional curly q's. If your resume is legible and clean, you're in the clear. Studies show that fonts that you may consider "boring," like Arial, Times New Roman and Sans Serif are in fact the way to go.
5. Don't overdo it with your margins.
If you have to extend your margins all the way to the end of the page, your resume is too wordy. A tiny budge won't hurt you, but if you mess with the margins to the point where it's very noticeable, the employer will not appreciate it.
6. Make sure your employment dates are readable.
This one is a sore spot for recruiters. 27% would discard a resume that didn't have easily identifiable job dates included. It looks like you're trying to hide a gap in employment. Even if you are, it's better to come clean on your resume than to still be passed over for your resume's lack of job dates.
7. Don't include a photo.
You're applying for a job -- not a beauty pageant. There is virtually no reason that your recruiter needs to know what you look like. Including a photo is distracting, and is regarded as a major faux pas. 88% of resumes with a photo are trashed immediately, according to statistics.
8. Cap your bullet points at six or less.
More than six bullets points per job description is too much. Surveys show that hiring managers are looking for short, succinct and to the point descriptions of the positions that you've held. Give the people what they want.
Listen, I get it: Your desire to stand out among the rest of the resumes in the pile is strong. But the best way to do it is truly with a strongly written, clear and concise resume.
This means no cutesy fonts, no pictures, and no bulging margins, among other things.
Once Jason ditched the overly designed resume for one that was actually readable, to his surprise (and to my "I told you so") he started getting called in for interviews! His potential employers loved looking through his portfolio, which they'd often request after reading his resume.
As Albert Einstein once said: "If you cannot explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Give recruiters the gift of simplicity, and you will be given the gift of a job offer.