3 Tips for a Polished Résumé

As you schlep through the job hunt, I’m sure you consistently wonder how you can stand out to a recruiter. How can you be memorable? How can you make your résumé shine above the rest? Earlier this year, I received a résumé to put all other résumés to shame. It was all I could think about; it was all I could talk about. However, it had the misfortune of standing out for all the wrong reasons. Below you’ll find the résumé (with all personal information changed) as well as some helpful tips. These hints may be simple but after the number of silly mistakes I've seen on hundreds of résumés, I think these points are worth mentioning.

  • Proofread. Formatting aside, the first sentence in the “Who am I?” section made me think twice about calling this candidate (henceforth known as Harry Potter). If he cannot phrase a sentence correctly in the document he uses to represent himself to all future employers, why should I believe he can speak coherently on the job? Beyond proofreading your own résumé, utilize all the resources at your disposal. Ask your family, friends, and career center to critique it. I can guarantee if Harry had asked even one person to review his work, he could have avoided sending out this poor résumé.

  • Be consistent. While I do give Mr. Potter credit for not using Comic Sans or Papyrus, I do wonder why he used four different fonts. Whatever his reason, the result is a résumé that does not flow. Limit yourself to one font and differentiate through sizing or style. (Note: If you are applying for a design job and know something about layout, go nuts.)

  • Be creative where it counts. I appreciate a splash of color or an interesting header on a résumé. However, there are certain things you really should just leave to tradition. One of those items is section titles. You really can’t go wrong with “Education” and “Work Experience.” Harry’s title of “Things That Would Make My Mother Proud” caught my attention, again for the wrong reasons. If it was meant to be funny, I didn’t laugh.

Your résumé is your first introduction to a potential employer. As such, make sure you present your best self. I understand the urge to “jazz up” your résumé to stand out, but take baby steps. If you’re confused about where to start, just Google “résumé templates” and pick one of the 5,000,000+ results. Once you have entered all your relevant information, consider adding a bit of color or an interesting header. In these situations, less is more. The bottom line is I know what it’s like to look for a job and how hard it is to describe yourself on one page of paper. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. The happiest part of my job is giving opportunities to people, and I want each and every one of you to succeed. Happy job hunting!

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