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Resume Formatting: Do’s and Don’t’s that Help You Stand Out

Resume Formatting: Do’s and Don’t’s that Help You Stand Out

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. Two resumes are in front of you; both are possible candidates for the open position. The first is littered with text, margin to margin, full of inconsistent fonts and format, and very little useful information stands out. The second resume is presented with consistent font and format, short bullets with precise information, and plenty of white space. Which resume would you rather tackle first?

The appearance of your resume is not as important as its content, certainly, but your presentation can affect your future hiring executive’s impression of your candidacy. In the example above, the two resumes contain two qualified candidates, but the difference is clear. A cluttered resume displays a cluttered style — clunky and disorganized — which is the last thing any employer wants in their ranks.

Resume content is always more important than its format; however, you do need to pay attention to how that content is presented. Make sure you’re following the Dos and Don’ts for good presentation of your professional resume.

Template Don’t

Don’t use downloadable templates. On the one hand, the more generic your resume appears, the fewer seconds a hiring manager will spend glancing at it before putting it aside and forgetting about it. On the other, many templates are not built to present well across individual machines, so you never will be entirely certain that your beautiful layout will appear equally attractive on someone else’s computer, and especially not on a mobile device.

Format Don’t

Bright paper or flashy clip art will catch the hiring manager’s eye, but not in a good way.

These kinds of tricks appear unprofessional. Resumes that bring success use a combination of a clean layout with strong content without resorting to flash.

Typeface Don’t

While font choice is important, distracting choices can derail your message. Hiring managers should focus on content — your skills, abilities, and experiences. Don’t decrease readability by using more than two fonts in your resume. Using two complementary fonts, say one for headings and one for the body, highlights important pieces of the document while maintaining the integrity of the information.

Color Do

Use a strategic splash of color to emphasize particular information or graphical elements.

Spelling and Grammar Do

Spelling and grammar are small things you need to be conscious of through your resume. Spell check is not always reliable as it won’t catch every grammar mistake if of the words are spelled correctly. “To,” “too,” and “two” are often confused and can easily be missed in such a check.

White Space Do

White space on your resume is essential for the reader. Use reasonable margins as well as space strategically between sections of information. This gives the reader, a hiring manager or otherwise, a break and points of focus without using more obvious styles. While the information on your resume is important, you don’t want it to look like a page from a novel or high school essay.

Consistency Do

Being consistent with your format throughout your entire resume will allow your reader to follow patterns. This makes your resume an easy read rather than a search and find. If you use bold titles for your current workplace, you should do the same for all other experience listed. Special note: Limit your use of bold, italic, and underlined text—if you try to make everything stand out, nothing will.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Resume Writing for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

Resume Writing for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

Getting Back into the Corporate World

In a tough economy, when small businesses thrive, it’s due to their team strategy, marketing, and more–including their executive leadership. These entrepreneurs are the power on which our successful economy rests. If you’re an entrepreneur who has chosen to exit your small business, you need to know how your skills and assets can impress a hiring manager.

You–a current or former business owner–need to convince a hiring manager that

  • You’re an executive ready to lead the charge to a company’s profitability.
  • You’re a professional who is able to follow the beat of someone else’s drum–maybe for the first time in your professional career.

No matter whether you’re a mid-career professional or a true executive, you need to prove:

  • You are ready to give up the powerful independent life
  • You’re ready to throw your lot in with the rest of the professional world
  • You’re ready to work with others on teams
  • You’re ready to take direction from someone who might not have the same perspective—or experience—as you.

Need to create a powerful career-change strategy? Identify the steps you need to follow to be successful here.

The Answer

You need an entrepreneur resume. Resumes for entrepreneurs are substantively different from standard business resumes.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably smart, driven, customer-oriented, and proud of your ability to do whatever it is your company does. Educationally speaking, you might have an MBA or you might have just made it through high school. You might have been working for your own enterprise for 5 months, 5 years, or 25 years. In any case, you’re thinking it’s times to leave the business in someone else’s hands, or to close it altogether.

Probably, you have not written a resume before, because your company was flying high, and you loved the responsibility, pressure, and elation of success. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, your entrepreneur resume has to show some serious innovation and expertise. An expert entrepreneur such as yourself needs to have a resume that blows the competition away, competing with all other comers on their terms–which might be substantially different from the ones that have driven your success in the past.

5 Resume Techniques for Entrepreneurs Returning to the Corporate World

1. Highlight Your Accomplishments

Accomplishments in a resume for entrepreneurs are critical.  By showing what you have accomplished in the past on your entrepreneur resume, you will show a hiring manager that you can accomplish the same goals for his or her company. For example, demonstrate that you’re the right one for the job due to your incredible track record of high sales, decreased turnover, technical expertise, or human resources talent.

2. Talk about Teamwork

First, emphasize any team projects you’ve participated in within your business, whether inside your company with subordinates, with other industry players, or with clients. Ensure that your prospective hiring manager knows you’re a team player and you aren’t afraid to collaborate.

3. Show Increasing Levels of Responsibility

Even within your own organization, you probably started with smaller projects and worked your way to bigger ones. Great challenge-action-response CAR statements will show how you wrangled the most success from sticky situations that will resemble the kinds of problems hiring managers are desperate to solve.

4. Write for Your Audience

Demonstrate your growth with strong action words and as many quantitative and qualitative assessments as you can. Pick powerful language; don’t use boring text that doesn’t grab attention.

Don’t forget a great cover letter and professional biography for business owners. Your cover letter is the introduction to your resume. It has to be polished and professional. Don’t know how to begin? Call me at 801-810-JOBS.

5. Hire a Professional Resume Writing Service

When you were out pounding the pavement as the leader of your own company, you made sure that your clients knew they were hiring an expert. If you’re stuck about what to say in your resume, you, too, can hire an expert to help you get a job fast. A professional resume writer can help you with your professional resume. If you need an executive resume writing service, she can help you with that as well. She’ll have expert-validated knowledge and skill, and she’ll get you the resume that will get you the interview you need to jump start your new career.

Looking for Work Is Now Your Full-Time Job

Would You Hire Yourself during Your Job Search: Looking for Work Is Now Your Full-Time Job

If you’re unemployed, looking for work should be your full-time job. Although your effort to look for work in this touch economy isn’t something you can put on a resume, your job search has to be your main focus, and that means up to 40 hours per week.

Does a 40-hour weekly investment seem too much? Think about it this way. If you worked for a company and didn’t spend every valuable moment doing something profitable and productive, you’d get yourself fired. If, in a perfect world, you could hire someone else to find you a job, and that person failed, you would fire him/her as well for failure to perform. Thus, if you’re not looking for work some standard number of hours every work week in effort to find yourself a job, you should probably fire that persona and take on a new, successful job search strategy.

If You Worked only 22 Minutes per Day, You’d Be Fired

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Creative Commons License photo credit: pj_vanf

A recent white paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research* reported on what the unemployed generally do instead of looking for work. It turns out people sleep more, work on their houses more, and attend to their medical care. But they don’t spend a great deal of time looking for work. Surprisingly, they spend only 1% of their time in job search mode. If a typical work week is about 37 hours (down about 9% over the last couple of years), this means that the average unemployed person is spending 22 minutes per day looking for work.

Your Job Search Plan of Attack

Every hour, every minute you spend on some other activity during work time is unrecoverable time lost that you could be using productively as you are looking for work. Use this list to jump-start your new daily grind:

  • Join a Job Club. There are in-person job clubs, virtual job clubs, formal and informal job clubs—and all are designed to help you as you are looking for work. If you live in the Salt Lake City area, come to the Salt Lake City Job Club—it’s free. Call me at 801-810-JOBS to participate.
  • Get training. You’ve got the time, so go take a class in something you can talk about in your next interview. It also fills that gap on the resume since your last position while you are looking for work.
  • Shadow someone in a new industry or position for a day. Learn what they do. Ask questions. Pay attention. This might be your job target.
  • Network with people you know—and people you don’t know. Expand your circle. Become visible.
  • Apply intelligently for jobs. Your resume is one of the keys to your success. Tweak it for choice positions. Don’t know how? Don’t have a killer resume? Not getting those interviews? Call me at 801-810-JOBS.

Don’t just “do” something. Everything you do in your job search should have a purpose. If you don’t have a strategy and have no idea what the best use of your time is while you are looking for work, call me.

What do you while you are looking for work? Comments welcome.

* “Time Use During Recessions,” NBER, July 2011, http://www.nber.org/papers/w17259.pdf.

Entrepreneurs Need a Resume and a Professional Biography

Entrepreneurs Need a Resume and a Professional Biography

I’ve written in the past about resume writing for business owners. But it’s not enough for entrepreneurs to have a resume. Entrepreneurs who are thinking about transitioning back into the corporate world also need a professional biography.

What Is a Professional Biography?

A professional biography is not a resume. A professional bio is a one-page statement of who you are from a branding perspective—a marketing document that is content-heavy, attractive, and readable. It’s purpose is to convince a hiring manager that you have the substance and experience to make interviewing you worth their while.

Constructing and Professional Biography from the Ground Up

As a business owner, you probably feel like your business is your life. But your business owner experience is not the same as your life story. So your professional biography will likely start somewhere around the time that you developed your idea for your company. If that was while you were in college, great—use that to your advantage. But the fact that this document is called a biography doesn’t mean you need to collect your personal history starting from your childhood. Remember: Everything you present to a future hiring manager counts, and this needs to be clean, professional, content-laden, and well written to get a jaded hiring manager’s attention.

Key Sections of a Professional Biography

There are many formats that will work for a professional bio; you might want to research what your potential colleagues have developed. Likely they will all contain the following elements:

  • A history of how you got to the point at which you are seeking to make the transition to corporate life.
  • A brief discussion of your skill set, detailing a few stories of accomplishments specifically related to your target role.
  • Your educational history.
  • Your contact information.
    Your photo, if you choose.
  • Recommendations or testimonials from clients and vendors.
  • Speaking engagements or publications related to your industry.
  • Related interests and hobbies, if appropriate.

How to Use a Professional Biography

Certainly, you must have a resume if you are applying for jobs. However, as you network into companies and work with recruiters, you might want to have copies of your professional biography ready to present. Because your bio will be lighter and eminently readable yet still contain the essential elements of your brand, you might find that recruiters and hiring managers are likely to read this document to get a broader sense of the person behind the words—you, the professional ready to tackle a corporate positions successfully.

If you’re an entrepreneur who is trying to break into a traditional corporate job, learn how an executive resume writing service can help you make that transition here.