Some candidates will try just about anything to get their resumes noticed by hiring managers. We see a variety of resumes for open roles at Aha! and some are quite effective in attracting further attention. But sometimes people include artwork or even photos of themselves in an effort to stand out. And other resumes feature more flourishes than actual words.
I understand why many jobseekers resort to unconventional means to get their point across — especially when HR managers and hiring managers are reviewing hundreds of applicants a day. Everyone is competing for their undivided attention.
But resume gimmicks rarely work. In fact, I have learned that the people who write the shortest cover letters and have the best structured and easy-to-read resumes win the most attention. This may seem counterintuitive, but for me, it is the truth.
The more extraneous graphics and material you add, the less serious you appear to be. And a bigger challenge is that it makes your resume less accessible to hiring managers, who are trying to narrow the field of candidates. They are the last people who will work initially to really understand your strengths. They simply do not have the time.
So, if you are looking for a job, what can you do to set yourself apart — that will still get you noticed?
Your resume should help the hiring manager get right to the point, so they can quickly assess your qualifications and identify your potential fit for the role.
With that in mind, try these resume tricks to capture their attention:
Include an overview
Instead of including an objective at the top, give a few brief bullet points that hit your career highlights and strengths as a candidate (award-winning graphic designer, five years managing remote teams, contributing author to a top industry blog.) These short teaser lines will pique their interest and give them a good reason to keep on reading and consider you further.
Showcase your accomplishments
Edit the cliches and unnecessary jargon from your resume and allow your results to speak for themselves. Consider which quantifiable achievements will best demonstrate your track record and potential in a new role. Perhaps you beat your sales targets each month or led the customer success team to an improved response time. Metrics — think numbers and percentages — will catch a hiring manager’s eye and prove that you know what matters.
Connect the dots
A recent candidate applying at Aha! added a short explainer sentence in between each job to tell the story of his career transitions. Since hiring managers will want to know why you changed roles, providing quick explanations is a great way to help them out. In this way, you paint a more complete picture of your career and will stand out as someone to remember.
Play to their interests
One candidate applying to a creative position knew from my Linkedin posts that I am a cyclist, an interest he shared. He included a visual timeline of his career path in terms of bikes he owned, as well as his total annual hours of riding time (by the way, he got the job.) (I know that this is counter to the advice to eliminate graphics, but in this case, he was applying to be a designer.) A well-executed gamble like this one shows initiative and the right amount of chutzpah.
As you conduct your job search, you will be absorbed in your own efforts — but remember that you are competing for the attention of someone who is busier than they should be.
Even though you may be the most qualified person for a particular role, that needs to be easy to see. So, it is smart to consider how your resume can effectively set you apart — especially if your initial attempts are not generating responses.
Study your results like a marketer. If your revamped resume receives more attention, you may be onto something — if not, try something else until you are highlighting what matters most.
Remember — substance matters. Whatever tricks you incorporate, be sure that your resume gets to the point and showcases what you are most proud of. It should help hiring managers picture you as the best candidate for the role — without forcing them to look too hard.
What tricks have helped you in your job search?