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What ImPRession Does Your Résumé Leave?

Posted: April 7, 2015, 11:42 a.m.
by Ana Vega.

Different professions hold their applicants to different standards. For instance, writing tests in the public relations field are quite common, but nurses would never be expected to write a sample news release. However, regardless of what industry we are pursuing, there is something that we all have in common: the résumé. So how do we make ourselves stand out on that little sheet of paper?

There are many different ways that job seekers use their résumés to make them shine. Whether they create their own eye-catching logo or have skills that will make someone’s mouth drop, they all strive to grab the recruiter’s attention. Because public relations is considered a creative field, there can be some discrepancy when it comes to the proper look and content of a résumé.

Courtesy of Flazingo Photos (Flickr)
Courtesy of Flazingo Photos (Flickr)

In 2012, Caroline Murray, a past writer for Platform Online Magazine, tackled the issue of whether to display your abilities through traditional black and white writing, or if it is better to spark it up a little with some designs. Murray wrote that following the company culture can be a good indicator of how your résumé should look. If the company is more conservative, think twice before you bombard the employer’s eyes with bright colors and big letters.

Two years later, Sandy Charet, president of Charet & Associates, shares the same advice for traditional versus creative résumés.

“Unless you’re going to be in a creative capacity – designing marketing collateral material, for example — I don’t think it is that important,” Charet said.

Further, there are some technical issues that may come up when using a creative résumé. According to Alyssa Gelbard, founder and president of Resume Strategists Inc., some job sites that you upload your résumé to won’t be able to pick up your information if it is not in a standard format.

Gelbard recommends sending your résumé as a PDF, especially if you have creative components included. It is helpful because often websites require you to copy and paste information from your résumé into their online application. Using a PDF version to do so will eliminate the format or readability getting thrown off from unrecognizable fonts or a bullet format.

“In addition, you don’t know what operating system, version of Word or kind of device on which someone is viewing your résumé, and sometimes cool fonts and formats don’t get translated, so your résumé can end up looking like a bit of a mess!” Gelbard said.

Deciding whether to show your creative talents through your résumé isn’t the only thing that confuses people. What about placing an objective or summary? Though both are introductions, there is a difference between the two.

Gelbard said having an objective is a definite no. It can put you in a situation where you only seem fitting for one position within the company, instead of the position that the recruiter is looking to fill.

Charet agrees and said that with an objective, you may write something that is interesting to you but could give the company or firm the wrong impression, so it is best to provide a summary.

A summary is placed at the top of your résumé and generally includes four to five sentences. Unlike an objective, which focuses on your aspirations and goals for the future, a summary informs the employer of your skills relevant to the job and your previous work experience. Your summary is an eight-second chance to sell yourself — it’s your elevator pitch.

Once the employer is hooked, the next thing is to do is reel him or her in by showing off your capabilities.

Your experience and skills are the most important thing to emphasize on your résumé, according to Charet. She also said that when receiving a résumé, one of the first things she looks for is where the applicant is currently employed.

The way you provide that information to the recruiter can make all the difference. An article from Business News Daily suggests to not only list skills by using words that sound unique and tasteful to you, but also try to share examples of how you apply the skills.

Follow the same concept in the experience section by listing the responsibilities you held while employed at the company and what you learned during your employment. Similarly, you should always include the time period you worked there and your title. However, because it is ideal to keep your résumé to one page, only list promotions if space allows. If you’re running out of space, write your most recent position, instead of listing them all.

If you get carried away easily, keeping things to one page may be hard. Jessica Snyder, public relations student and professional development coordinator for the University of Alabama Sales Program, reviews résumés often and says the biggest problem she comes across is students wanting to tell the employer too much.

“The worst mistake someone could make on a résumé is to make it too long and wordy,” Snyder said. “Employers will be going through hundreds of résumés. It is their job to notice potential in a candidate based on a sheet of paper, and it is the student’s job to make that potential quickly stand out on the page. If a student’s résumé is too wordy or too long, it will show their inability to quickly communicate a message — a useful skill in today’s job market.”

To make a quick trim, Snyder suggests using smaller margins with a smaller font (but not under 10 points). But if you have the time, Adobe InDesign is a great tool to use when creating your résumé. It will help with keeping everything aligned while allowing you to maneuver your text to fit on one page.

When the time comes and you are looking for a job, this sheet of paper is what will make you different from the next person in line. Keep things clean, precise and, most importantly, don’t underestimate the power of the résumé.

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