Rocket Your Resume to the Top of the Pile

There has been lots of speculation in recent months that the resume is ‘dead’ (sparking much debate), but that extreme statement  is simply not true. Yes, the resume has evolved a lot in recent years, and yes there are many new approaches to consider in today’s job search, but the resume remains an essential tool in every job seeker’s tool box.So how can you make your resume blast to the top of a large pile of applications to get noticed? These four tips will help launch resume success:

Use a format that works for YOU

Too often people are stuck formatting their resume in a rigid or traditional manner, following templates or old-fashioned layouts. Ignore advice on the ‘right way’ to format your resume because there are no hard or fast rules to creating a resume. Apply a format that works best for you and your situation.

Order content in your resume from most relevant to least relevant throughout, ensuring more critical points are listed closer to the start. If you are making a career change you may need to strategically place an earlier career position sooner in your resume or add an achievements section near the start of the document to emphasize transferable skills.

Old school resume rules do not account for strategy. You are unique, therefore your resume must be too.

 Tailor content towards the target job

Avoid falling into the trap of using just one resume for every job you apply for. To be effective,  modify and tailor your resume content for every unique job. If you do not tailor your resume content for each job the reader may have a hard time grasping how your skills relate to their requirements and you could be overlooked.

In addition, if your resume does not contain custom keywords it may be screened out by the ATS.

 Get creative

Think outside the box with content and design. Today’s resumes are maturing in style, content, strategy, and design. Consider adding a bit of color or customized headers in your resume – and when appropriate – graphics, charts, or testimonials to add value and pizzazz!Marry content and design in your networking resume (one that is created specifically for human eyes) but keep the design simpler for resumes going through ATS.

Does your resume look like everyone else’s? Well it certainly won’t stand out.  Above all else, avoid using a resume template – these are easy to spot, limiting in design, sometimes hard to read by ATS, and will not score you any points with scrutinizing employers.

Keep content lean and clean

Today’s resumes need to say more in less space. Recruiters and employers are inundated with applications so they must be able to scan your content quickly to easily glean key facts and hard impacts (results!). If resume content is too dense, important details run the risk of being buried and passed over.

Finally, remember that the resume is a marketing tool, not a job description. Sharp and concise (relevant) statements will have greater impact, as will shorter and easily scanned sections. Achieving the fine balance of condensing details while still offering up a wealth of information takes a concentrated effort.  See my follow-up article: “Resume Strategy – What Format to Use and When”.



Adrienne Tom

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? I can help! Visit me online at to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategies for top professionals and executives located across Canada and the USA.
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