As a hiring manager I probably look at 30 resumes a week. Sometimes more. I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about resumes. What makes one resume good and others not so good? What makes me look at a resume for more than 30 seconds? What attributes are most important to make a resume stand out or fade away?
Recently I also found myself on the other side of the hiring equation as I interviewed for a new job. That forced me to go even further and consider this topic from the job seeker’s perspective too. Should my resume be online or in print or both? Should I have a graphical resume or a clean and simple CV format? Do I even need a resume anymore? Has the purpose of the resume changed altogether?
Visual resumes, standard resumes, graphical resumes, online resumes, infographic resumes, resumes in pdf and resumes in Microsoft Word. I’ve seen and experimented with just about all these approaches to find out what works best for me and what attracts me as a hiring manager.
If you don’t feel like hearing me talk about my approach to building a great resume template and you just want to jump straight to the template itself, you can get it here. This is my resume template. The one I actually use. The one I recently used to get a great job against a ton of strong competing candidates. It worked for me, I’m hoping it can work for you too.
To understand why I designed my CV template the way I did, it’s important to start with the three things I feel are most important in a great resume.
A Resume that Differentiates You
Your resume is one of the only tools you have to distinguish yourself from competing candidates in the early stages of the job search process. It’s the one weapon you have to show your uniqueness before you’ve even met your prospective employer. Sure you can spice up your LinkedIn profile a bit - get some endorsements or a cool background image, but you’re limited there. Unlike your LinkedIn profile, you resume, on the other hand, is 100% customizable. It’s one of the few areas you have full control over in the job search process.
For me, the number one priority when thinking about my resume format is how it will communicate my unique value and separate me from other candidates. When my resume is sitting in a pile with 20 others, it must jump out of the pack. Look at these three resumes sitting in a pile on my desk. Which candidate do you think is the best?
It’s pretty obvious that one resume format looks more compelling than the others. And that gives me a huge advantage right out of the gate. Before the employer has even read a word, I’m ahead.
This is why I am a big fan of adding some compelling visuals or color or something interesting on your resume to make it stand out. You don’t have to go invest $500 to have a resume professionally designed. You don’t have to pay for a $100 template either. But you do need to add some color, some accents and some visual elements to make your resume look different and better when its sitting in a pile or when it’s the fourteenth resume a hiring manager or recruiter has scanned.
I built a visual resume template that has color and graphical elements but doesn’t go so far as to become unmanageable. I wanted it to be something I could easily edit myself in Microsoft Word, but that also popped. If you want to grab my resume template in Microsoft Word format, just like the one in the photo above, you can get it here.
A Resume that can be Reviewed in 30 Seconds
Sometimes I think candidates make the mistake of assuming hiring managers and recruiters read their resumes in detail. Maybe some do, but most don’t. I never do. I scan a resume for 30 seconds at most and look for specific things:
What accomplishments do you have?
What companies did you work for?
Did you get promotions?
What impact did you make?
What unique talents do you bring?
That’s it. I don’t read 80% of the content on a resume. I save that level of learning for the live interview process. That means to get into the interview stage at all, you need your resume to hit the points above in 30 seconds or less.
I designed my resume to be effective at creating interest in hiring managers like me. So my resume template is, first and foremost, designed to outperform others in the 30 second scan test. You can see from the image below that I make extensive use of highlights and framing and color to call out the most important points I want to make.
If you like the way this resume looks, you can grab my editable resume template in Microsoft Word format and customize it for yourself. It looks fancy, but I built it using simple tables and formatting so I could easily edit it without need a degree in graphics design.
A Resume that Focuses on Accomplishments vs. Activities
One of the most common problems I see with the resumes that cross my desk is they are too focused on activities and not focused enough on accomplishments. As a hiring manager I’m far less concerned with what you did and far more concerned with what impact you had. And that applies equally to seasoned managers and early career professionals. Too many resumes focus on the deliverables or activities or responsibilities the candidate had and not nearly enough on what the results were for the business.
Imagine the hiring manager is glancing at your resume and she’s looking for a few key points to qualify or disqualify you. Results jump off the page. Long descriptions of how you worked with others to execute some activity or deliverable aren’t interesting or quantifiable. That’s why I structured my CV format to call out results and highlights. It’s designed to be accomplishment centric vs. activity centric.
If you think that approach makes sense, grab my resume template in Microsoft Word format and customize it for your own job search.
Looking for a job is one of the hardest things we have to go through in our professional lives. All of us, at one time or another have to do it. And if you believe the recent statistics, most of us are going be looking for work every couple years from here on in. And at the risk of rubbing salt in the wound, it’s getting harder every day. The game has changed. I interviewed a candidate recently who revealed something to me that had me seriously vexed for a few weeks. He had applied for 1,100 jobs, received 25 phone interviews, 6 in-person meetings and got 2 offers. ELEVEN HUNDRED?!?! This is what you’re up against these days – job seeking superbots playing the numbers game to get hired. They’re taking advantage of technology and putting in incredible amounts of time and energy to find work so they can support their families – good for them. But what does this mean for your job search? How will you possibly stand out when so many candidates apply for every job?
It all starts with a great resume that is designed with differentiation in mind. You must have a CV that helps you jump out of the pile and create immediate interest.
Check out the resume template I use to stand out from the competition. Its designed to be easy to edit using Microsoft Word in a visual CV format that will separate you from other candidates.