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Monday, March 06, 2006
Designed to Win
One of the most common shortcomings we see in resumes submitted to us for review is the lack of good design and organization. Everything in resume writing is about strategy, including the design and appearance of the document. Strategy is organizing the information so that it flows from most important to least important. Strategy is formatting the information so it is easy to follow visually. Strategy is creating a great first impression before the first word is read. Strategy is creating something unique that will stick in the mind of the reader when the reader can’t remember your name. All this is incorporated into design and format.

Most people are aware there are three basic formats of a resume – chronological, functional, and combination. By far the most successful is the traditional chronological format. It is successful because it is what the hiring manager expects and wants, because it shows career progression, and because it is logically ordered.

The functional resume format is at the other end of the scale. Employers and recruiters detest the functional format because they have to read every single word of the resume before they can get a good feel for the candidate’s background. Bottom line – they don’t have time to do that so they just go on to the next resume in the pile. Functional resumes also send up big red flags of warning because the functional format is generally used when trying to hide something detrimental in the candidate’s past. Recruiters know that so they automatically put functionally formatted resumes at the bottom of the pile.

Combination format resumes are somewhere in between but are still not as effective as a traditional chronological format resume. Combination resumes are usually used when trying to affect a huge career change from one industry to a completely different one. They can be useful in that scenario but since that rarely happens, the combination format is rarely used.

Once the format is selected, it is important to have an attractively designed resume. A resume that has design elements such as lines separating sections, text boxes (used conservatively), good font and font sizes, attention-grabbing headers, and good-sized margins will be attractive. Good use of header and footer sections is also a benefit. A resume can be attractive visually and still maintain a conservative appearance.

I wish I had a dollar for every resume I’ve seen that has been created using the Word resume template – I could buy Microsoft. Templates are for lazy people or people who don’t know how to use the basic formatting functions in Word. Why do you want your resume to look like about 35 billion other resumes? You don’t! You want to stand out in the crowd! Don’t ever use a template or resume software to create your resume. If you look at your resume and there is nothing in it style-wise beyond bold, italics, underline, or larger font sizes, you need to redesign it. You don’t want your resume to look like it was created on a typewriter or Word 2.0.

You would not go to an interview in a cheap suit or a pair of sweatpants. Nor do you want your resume to land in a hiring manager’s inbox wearing poor design. Your resume speaks for you. Make it shout out class, style, value, and professionalism when you aren’t there to do it yourself.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 /


We specialize in working with professionals in the high tech, engineering, and manufacturing industries to organize, direct, and accomplish their career goals. Our knowledge of technology and our expertise in these rapidly changing industries set us apart from all other career services firms and provides outstanding value to our clients. See how we can help your Career by reading our Blog.
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