Your experiences are one of a kind. Every internship earned, position held and connection made tells a unique story. Yet, by the time this information is organized and filtered into a resume, the finished product can feel sort of lifeless; even the most dynamic lives seem mundane when distilled down into black and white bullet points! Years of trial and error have led to the adoption of numerous, generally accepted resume clichés, taboos and unwritten rules, resulting in a (mostly) standardized resume format.
The applicant pool for a given position can be extremely diverse, so why should their application materials be any different? Before you start designing your resume based on the “unwritten rules” out there, take a minute to rethink what may work best for you:
One Page Wonder
Can you fit your entire life story one 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper? When first starting the job search, forcing everything to fit on one page can be a daunting task. While having a concise resume is helpful, don’t let this generally accepted practice hold you back.
Rather than rushing to remove information to fit into the one-page ideal, start off by generating a giant master list of all of your history; from college courses to on-site skills to day long seminars – nothing is off limits. Then, use this list to create a resume specific to each position you are applying for. Some more technical positions may require you to list more skills and experiences than one page allows; others may require only a brief sampling of your work. Tailor your resume length to the position at hand!
Now that the content is place, the real question is how to order all of it. Should experiences be listed in a chronological format, highlighting consistency in a career? Or should it be grouped in a more functional format, drawing more focus on skills and capabilities before diving into employment history?
The answer is, “yes.”
Based on the position and your background, choose the order that works best for you. As a student just out of school, maybe the initial focus should be on the skills and education you bring to the table; whereas a thirty year veteran in a specialized industry may want to present work history first. Choose what’s most important for the position at hand and make these details shine.
Not So “Black and White”
Like an Instagram filter gone awry, resumes have been universally stripped of all color. As eyes scan over sheets and sheets of black and white bullet points, a level of visual hypnosis sets in. How can you afford to blend in when the field is so competitive?
While it might not be the best idea to print your resume on neon green paper, adding a splash of color to your resume design can be an eye-catching extra touch. A simple, clean way to achieve this variety is to use colored icons to highlight platforms you may be skilled in – Microsoft Office, Twitter, etc.
Your resume should be as personalized and distinct as your career path. Take this opportunity to buck the trends and break the formatting “rules.” If you can think of any other unwritten rules for resumes that you’d like to change, share them below!