Is your resume easy to understand and navigate?
Or does it confuse employers?
Your resume has ONE JOB: to clearly convey your ROI to employers and recruiters.
Long lists of responsibilities, unrelated job titles, rambling paragraphs, and zero success stories can make it hard to communicate your value proposition.
Instead, here are 5 ways to make your resume EASIER to read – and convey your fit for the job:
1 – Cut the dense paragraphs and endless lists of bullets.
If you want your carefully crafted resume to get noticed, it must be designed for skimming.
Lengthy blocks of text can be difficult to interpret at a glance.
Today’s short attention spans (TikTok, anyone?) can make some people miss important data embedded in a long paragraph, but proper nouns, dollar figures, or words in concise sentences catch attention!
Break your resume into brief chunks of valuable information. Distill past jobs into important details, such as the size of teams you’ve managed or your scope of authority.
Cut achievement bullets to a handful of wins under each job, using short sentences and metrics that illustrate your results.
2 – Use a straightforward design and simple font.
A compelling resume should deliver a clear message of value almost immediately. It’s MUCH easier to do this when you select a common font available in most versions of Word.
Unusual fonts might garner attention, but they can be garbled on mobile devices. Spare yourself the headache by choosing a common font such as Calibri, which is easy to read and available on most platforms.
You might also be tempted to download a fancy resume template with multiple colors and a unique design.
- However, does it match your industry? Some employers, especially those in conservative fields such as banking, prefer a toned-down presentation.
- Does it place emphasis on your most impressive wins? Professional resume writers are trained to place content where important facts catch the eye (this is why you’ll see innovative, yet clear designs in their resume sample portfolios).
- Does it pack important details into text boxes? These are difficult for mobile and other devices to clearly display or parse.
- Does it contain a space for your headshot? Photos on resumes are usually reserved for candidates applying to positions in Europe or roles in the entertainment industry.
3 – Write about and emphasize achievements.
A compelling resume should focus on your personal brand and success stories, while briefly mentioning your everyday tasks – NOT the other way around. However, too many people simply add a job description (that could apply to anyone) for each entry in their work history.
For example, it’s common for a CFO to model complex financial decisions and Chief Revenue Officers to set sales strategy. These details should be stated briefly in a few lines – followed by achievements showing cost savings, revenue growth, M&A results, or other success stories.
Employers like to see where you’ve differentiated yourself against other applicants and see keywords used IN CONTEXT (this is why you can’t just paste the job posting into your document). You must explain and qualify your experience to have a shot at the position.
If you’re unsure whether your executive resume is too heavily focused on tasks, compare it to a job description. Your document should match many of the skills, but also include career wins unique to YOU.
4 – Build a short, compelling qualifications summary.
If your resume launches immediately into your work history, you’ve just missed a HUGE personal branding opportunity.
A Qualifications Summary or Profile is a fantastic place to incorporate keywords, feature achievements, briefly outline your career level, and help frame your value proposition for the human reader.
Not sure how to write a Summary? You’re not alone. Is Your Resume Summary Boring Employers? describes simple ways to craft a robust opening paragraph.
This example (which shows at least 14 keywords, 2 job titles, and 5+ accomplishments) also shows how you can combine your career level, credentials, soft skills, and achievements into a memorable resume summary:
Senior operations and financial officer credited with 14 regional turnarounds and M&A transactions at #1 real estate financing corporation nationwide. Achieves new efficiencies using Lean Six Sigma and builds top-notch teams well-versed in cost controls. Increased profit margins and IRR up to 35% through long-range strategic planning, investor relations, and change management.
5 – Conserve the use of bold text.
When you read a document, your eyes naturally fall on items that stand out, such as words that are in bold or all caps. This is perfect for information you want to prioritize!
However, if you apply bold to nearly every line, EVERYTHING will stand out at the same time, making it difficult for human readers to interpret your meaning. Take a look at this eye-opening bold-text resume survey conducted by LinkedIn Top Voice and career coach Bob McIntosh.
Instead, selectively highlight words that reflect your biggest wins, or the size and scope of your projects. Refrain from putting words in bold that you’d rather not emphasize, and concentrate on your BEST career-defining successes instead.
It’s important to treat your resume as a marketing document, using the same principles as a successful ad campaign: brief descriptions, powerful metrics, and easy navigation.
It’s even MORE important to ensure employers can grasp your most important qualifications.
You’ll get the BEST results by simplifying your resume format, focusing on relevant skills, and featuring achievements that show leadership and drive.
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- Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC, CTTCC, NCOPE