#1: Get In, Tell Your Story, And Get Out
Make every word count when you’re writing. In an article like this one I’ve chosen to use bold subtitles for those who like to scan or skim an article to get the main points but don’t want to dig in deeper for the details. I’ve also provided my opinion and the extra details for those who like context and an explanation to go with the points in bold. Consider doing the same with your resume. Use short, tweet-sized sentences to communicate key accomplishments, your branding statements, facts you don’t want the employer to miss. Ideally, you want critical information CALLED OUT on the resume.
#2: Be A Ruthless Editor
Create a master resume and then go back and edit it until you have a leaner draft. Then go back and cut even more out. When you write your resume ask yourself, “Is this critical to my story or what I’m trying to convey to the employer?” If it isn’t, cut it out. Save the discarded content in a master file so you have it if you decide later you really do need it. However, consider yourself a ruthless editor, evaluate every word, every sentence for how you can make it shorter and more concise—then slash and trash what you don’t need.
#3: Write For Scanners/Skimmers
Write for scanners and skimmers. You know the people who go through and only read the headlines of articles and newspapers or scroll through articles and only read the bolded bullet points to get the general gist of what it’s saying?
This reason is exactly why newspapers and news articles start with a great headline, give the most critical facts/details first, and then gradually fill in the not-so-critical details further down in the story. They know you want the important information first and don’t want to wait for it. Do the same in your resume. Start with your branding statement and make it answer the decision maker’s questions: “Why should I care?” or “What’s in it for me?” When time is of the essence, answering these questions first gives readers exactly what they need to know up front; then they can choose to keep on reading for any details.
I think the strategy of using a profile summary or career summary is now history. Instead, I think it should include a personal-brand snapshot. Give the reader newsworthy information in short, effective statements so they can get the facts and move on.
#4: Use A Formula To Help Flesh Out Your Story
In resume writing we call them CAR or SAR statements. I’ve also seen the acronym PARI. Essentially, you’re sharing a challenge/situation/problem, the action you took to address it, and what the result was. Ideally you want to frame the result by sharing how it positively impacted your employer or client. These are the kinds of statements that make impact and tell a story but also give the reader context. Remember to keep it short; mercilessly edit it down to the least common denominator. In resume writing it’s also a wise practice to lead with the result/impact to the client or employer because this is usually quantifiable.
Here is a quick example of what I mean by a S.A.R. statement:
Situation/Challenge/Problem: Company operated at a loss of $960,000 in 2014.
Action: Personally vetted by CEO for company turnaround. Cut costs by 30%, revamped hiring practices to reduce turnover, overhauled budget and spending practices.
Result/Impact: Delivered $650,000 profit in 2015.
Now you can take the content from the answers to these three questions and put together a great bullet point for your resume. Fill in each with your own experiences and expertise.
#5: Neuroscience Says Pictures Win
Ninety percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco) and 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco). Use graphs, charts, and visual presentations whenever possible to share content with your audience.
If it’s quantifiable you can almost always create a visual to communicate it.
On social media platforms, images or photos are shared or liked more than text. In this article they share research that states photos on Facebook are shared 75% more than articles, links or text. Although this isn’t research on resumes in particular, it does speak to how much our brains and eyes are drawn to visual stimuli.
I wrote an article this autumn on what employers see when you apply on LinkedIn. The content was revelatory for many job seekers and received great praise for its insightfulness.
Be that as it may, when I created an infographic of the same content within the article and posted it on LinkedIn it was shared significantly more than the article itself. The article was published by LinkedIn on several of its channels, but was shared only four times and viewed 700. The infographic was never published on any of LinkedIn’s channels, yet it was shared 53+ times and has been viewed 2,000+ times. Evidence that visual content gets more attention.
#6: Personal Branding IS Visual TOO
In resume writing (and the job search business in general) we tend to get hung up on the idea that our brand is all about the words we use—and it is. As career expert Deb Dib calls it, your personal brand is your “why buy ROI”. However, it’s also communicated visually—not just in words but with word pictures and with images.
Certain colors have specific meanings to your personal brand! Check out this video from Personalbranding.tv to find out what your personal branding color is and consider that it may be time to include your color brand in your resume: As a side note that’s not resume related, your LinkedIn profile is also a good place to incorporate visual branding and your personal brand color.
#7: Bite-Sized Sentences
Funny how twitter causes us to communicate our thoughts in 140 characters or fewer. Even Twitter knows our attention spans are waning in the digital age. Our brains have adapted to new ways of absorbing content and interacting with the Internet. Now you’re forced to keep your point short and sweet. For a superfluous person like me who loves the details, I used to get so mad at Twitter for making me convey my thoughts in such short, bite-sized portions, but it really has become the necessity of our society.
With ever-decreasing attention spans, writing tweet-sized resume sentences is a sound strategy. And it’s not a trend I see fading away in the coming years either. The next time you write a sentence for your resume, see how many characters are included. And then see if you can get it down to 140 characters or fewer without losing impact. Consider what is essential and what is critical. Ditch the essential and run with the critical.
#8: Money, Money, Money
How you made it, generated it, contributed to, saved, or helped someone else in the process—it’s all about the almighty dollar. A great example for a direct contributor is how their actions impacted the bottom-line profitability of the company. For an executive assistant it may be how her initiative and foresight allowed her boss to save money or increase billable hours.
Whatever you do, find the connection to dollars and share it. If nothing you did in some way affected costs savings or revenue generation, find the bleeding need your target company/audience has and communicate how what you’ve done in the past has stopped the bleeding!
#9: Infographic Resumes
Infographic resumes are growing in popularity! Don’t believe me? Just search them on Pinterest. Does an infographic resume replace a traditional resume? No. Does it work for everyone? No. In some situations—and for many job seekers—there is a time and place to use an infographic resume. I’ll let you in on a little secret too—you can make your own! There is a plethora of sites you can use to design your own infographic resume, including Visme, Visually, Venngage, Piktochart, Infogr.am, and easel.ly. I’m confident you could use these sites to create graphics to incorporate into your resume too.
There are some important points you need to consider when you’re evaluating whether an infographic resume is right for you. They’re not for every industry or position. However, they can work very well for industries like marketing, sales, technology, social media, graphic design or telecomm. You may find that innovative companies, smaller organizations, or start-ups are even drawn to infographic resumes. I can see infographic resumes being a great tool when tapping into the hidden job market as you’re bypassing traditional HR departments. A January 2015 survey stated 68% of people would look at an infographic resume, 32% said it depends. Interestingly enough, not one person said they wouldn’t look at one.
#10: Say Goodbye To ATS
The demise of applicant tracking software is upon us. Employers are discovering that computer software systems may be great at scanning keywords on a resume, but they’re not so great at discerning talent, loyalty, dedication, hard work, and most importantly FIT. While I understand ATS has its usefulness (there’s no way an HR representative can feasibly read thousands of resumes that pour in every day) their practicality and validity are waning.
Resumes, which used to function as your “first impression” to an employer, are now quickly becoming the second or third thing an employer will see about you. With the rise of social media sites such as LinkedIn, website resumes, portfolios, video resumes, and job-search strategies allowing job seekers to tap into the hidden job market and bypass sending a resume as a first introduction, the human eye is quickly becoming the #1 gatekeeper.
Keep these trends in mind when you sit down to write your resume, and you’ll be ten steps ahead of your competition.