CREATING A PROFESSIONAL RESUME
Creating a professional resume is something I have’t had to do in over 10 years. However I recently put in a bid on a project that required a professional resume. So I got to work.
My first thought was this should be fun. I am a designer and I can make an amazing, creative resume that will easily catch the eye of its viewer. Luckily, as I do before taking on any project, I decided to do a little research. And I am glad I did.
I learned that too many graphic elements could be disastrous in some cases. Primarily because many companies use resume scanning software such as an ATS (applicant tracking system).
These tracking systems do more than just track resumes, they can also serve as a filter to weed out only the most qualified individuals. When creating a professional resume, it is important to format your resume in a way that it makes it through these systems intact.
Table of Contents
BEATING THE MACHINES
There are a few things you can do when creating a professional resume, that will enhance your chances of making it through most ATS’s without risking important information being discarded or garbled.
USE THE RIGHT FILE TYPE
PDF is a popular format for resumes. While it is an acceptable format in most cases, it is not compatible with some ATS software. If the Employer requests pdf, it’s safe to assume it should be fine, but if it is not specifically requested, it is best to use a word document and utilize the .doc or .docx. extensions. Plain text documents are also extremely compatible with ATS software, however it really limits your formatting options.
AVOID USING IMAGES AND GRAPHICS
While a fancy resumes may be eye catching and creative, it won’t matter much if the machines discard it before it ever reaches human eyes. Images and graphics sometimes confuse the ATS software resulting in the information being discarded.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR RESUME FOR THE JOB YOU ARE APPLYING FOR
It is important that your resume be designed for the job you are applying for. If your resume contains a lot of irrelevant information that doesn’t pertain to the job listing, it will be discarded.
It is better to have too little relevant information on your resume than to have too much irrelevant information. Put the most important and relevant information at the top.
DON’T OVERDO IT
Human resource officers will eventually get their hands on your resume, and likely dozens or even hundreds of other applicants. They won’t waste their time. In many cases they will quickly scan the resume for keywords and information relevant to the job, and determine whether it moves forward or ends up in the waste basket.
Its best to keep your resume on one page with only the most important relevant information.
Reading can be tiring and a huge strain on a readers eyes. Its a good idea to give the reader little breaks from reading. This can be achieved with proper margins, spacing and utilizing the available whitespace.
PROOFREAD THEN PROOFREAD IT AGAIN
I cant stress enough the importance of proofreading. I’ll be the first to admit, it is not my strong point, however when submitting a professional resume, it should be delivered in a professional manor. One misspelled word could immediately label you as incompetent and remove your resume from eligibility. Don’t just use spell check alone, reed slowly through your words and read them again. Sometimes we use the wrong word, but spellcheck doesn’t catch that. For example Two sentences up I used “reed” instead of “read”. Pay close attention to your grammar and punctuation as well.
INCLUDE A COVER LETTER
And lastly it is important when creating a professional resume, that you include a cover letter. The cover letter is more personal and gives the reader an idea of your goals and allows you to dig a little deeper into your qualifications.
Be sure to properly format the cover letter as well and once again…. PROOFREAD.
*Bonus Tip: Pay close attention to the keywords in the job listing, and utilize those keywords when creating your resume. ATS software will likely be looking for those keywords.
Skilled Graphics can design you a professional resume that meets all of this criteria. If you are interested in our services, feel free to contact us for a quote.