We all want a resume that will jump out of the pile into the hands of HR managers. But how do you craft a resume that is tasteful yet aesthetic, impressive, yet not braggy? First and foremost, you need to ditch the conventions of the paper-based version. And that doesn’t just mean loading up on keywords that a company’s screening software will latch onto, either. It’s about turning your resume into a sleek, interactive, and thoroughly digital resource.
Best of all, you don’t need to be a web developer to do that. More and more websites are rolling out online tools for resume creation and formatting, from Google Docs to Etsy. Check out Glassdoor’s list of five of the best online resume tools available right now. Then use this checklist to make sure you’re including the features (some familiar, others not) that will take your upgraded resume to the next level.
Don’t confuse your reader with excessive design details, complicated jargon, or a muddled structure. Focus on the significant and relevant information instead. “Accomplishments are important, but list no more than five under each position,” suggests Nicole Cox, a chief recruitment officer at recruiting firm Decision Toolbox. “In general, you’ll want to choose the most significant accomplishments, but also ensure they are relevant to the opening.”
Let your future employer visualize your place in the office by including a robust description of your soft skills. Include traits like leadership, teamwork, communication, and creativity to emphasize your well-roundedness.
Surprisingly, a longer resume may work to your advantage by giving your accomplishments context, showing a glimpse of your personality, and making your stories more robust. Building in relevant anecdotes gives your resume a more personal flavor than just the facts. You’re more likely to grab a hiring manager’s attention through stories crafted to resonate with their needs, even if that means going over the one-page “limit.”
Whether it’s an HR recruiter scanning your resume, or an applicant tracking system automatically passing through, you want to put relevant keywords on the page that signal your industry expertise. Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com and regular Glassdoor contributor, suggests to “take a close look at the ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section of the most visible people in your niche–this is the ‘secret sauce’ of great keywords. Jot down all of the ones you possess and include them within a ‘Core Competencies’ section of the resume.”
Use snappy adjectives to create a sharp sentence that sums up your personal brand. For example, for a senior marketing executive role, Majumdar suggests writing something like, “Luxury Retail Marketing expert who can deploy cutting-edge strategies to generate awareness, double-digit profitability gains, and cross-channel cohesion.”
Now that resumes are generally sent along electronically, focus on making yours interactive and easily clickable. Especially focus on including creative work, such as published articles or an online portfolio.
Identify the needs of the company you’re applying to by researching the organization, its values, and its history beforehand. Then focus on the relevant details, and tailor your skill set to the specific job you’re applying for.
Using a digital template makes customization easy. For example, if you know the company puts customer service as a core value, just edit your resume to emphasize your customer service experience and skills your resume (within reason, of course–don’t stretch it too far).
Making your resume easier to read for the hiring manager will give you a boost in the application process, regardless of whether or not it’s required. So when you’re choosing a template, test your resume on multiple devices before finally sending it out. If it doesn’t look great on mobile, don’t hit “send.”
This article first appeared in Fast Company.