This week in Resume Makeover, we’re featuring… “Riley” (*). (* Names changed to protect the innocent.)

Riley is a recent MBA graduate with an economics background looking to break into the digital marketing industry. In the newer age of marketing, skills related to online content strategy, SEO, social media management, etc. are in high demand, so why not gain those skills and be part of the hiring party?

With little luck after graduating (and consistently applying to 15+ jobs per week), Riley contacted us. We immediately saw how his resume might be stunting his job search. It had too much visual flair and was overwhelmingly dense. Resume-filtering bots are the first filter against your resume — they get easily confused.

Here’s Riley’s resume makeover:

We made three visual changes to Riley’s resume:

1. Simplify the formatting of your resume. These days most employers use an ATS (Application Tracking System) to do the initial candidate screen. Make sure your resume is free of images, tables, and even columns so it doesn’t trip up the software!

2. Avoid crazy colors and weird backgrounds in your resume. Many people are tempted to add color to their resume in attempt to be unique. Unfortunately, screen displays vary and ink can be pricy — keep it simple by sticking to black & white. Tip: Bring the fancier, more visual version of your resume to the interview instead.

3. Choose one classic font and use it throughout your resume. Unique or designer fonts can be visually intriguing but the risk when using them is that it doesn’t render correctly on someone else’s computer. So keep it all simply by choosing a classic font and using the same one all through your resume. Reminder: you can always bring a printed, fancy resume to your interview!

And, of course, content changes as well:

4. Make your skills section more prominent, readable, and comprehensive. Separate your skills into broader categories and make sure it lists all the tools/industry-specific skills you list in your experiences. Remember, recruiters only look at your resume for 6 sections and your skill set is going to be one of the first places they check — so make it good!

5. Group all your relevant experience together. Move your “Side Hustle” position under “Work Experience” as it’s just as relevant as your other professional positions and should be showcased as such. Remember, relevant experience is more important than whether or not the position was paid/an unofficial position.

6. Be more concise with your tasks/achievements (3-5 bullet points). Each experience shouldn’t have subsections or too many bullet points, especially if it wasn’t an executive position. Combine like items and get rid of any achievements that start with passive verbs or don’t display ownership/positive impact on the company.

7. Simplify your education and watch out for spelling errors! There’s a whole lot of honors societies (with greek names) out there, and truth be told, employers gloss over them; what matters is the raw GPA. Also, we all make silly mistakes, but it’s extra silly if programs spot our errors and we still don’t fix them.

8. Remove irrelevant (or less relevant) experiences. Unless your extracurriculars/hobbies are something you know the hiring manager will be impressed by or able to connect on (e.g. same frat/sorority), get rid of it. Often times recruiters will see this as filler on a resume, which they’re not too fond of.

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