Brooklyn Resume Studio – NYC Resume Writer & Career Consultant
Welcome to Brooklyn Resume Studio - Brooklyn Resume Studio – NYC Resume Writer & Career Consultant. Impactful Resumes: Expertly Written & Designed to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market Brooklyn Resume Studio offers professional resume writing, personal branding, and career consulting services, and was founded by former hiring manager, writer, and branding consultant, Dana Leavy-Detrick.
One of the biggest challenges with infographic resumes is that they are generally not ATS compliant. The format and presentation of the resume may prevent the Applicant Tracking System from accurately reading your resume, and passing it through the system.
Also, graphical elements, text in the form of images, and tables are generally not readable by the ATS system, and using them in your design will render your resume ineffective.
You can incorporate creative elements such as lines, color, and attractive font choices to make your resume stand out. Just make sure your resume adheres to the “3 C’s of Content”: clear, compelling, and concise.
There are still a couple of creative tactics you can employ to give your resume a well-designed look that helps it stand out among a sea of black and white templates.
Here are three examples that blend high-quality design with exceptional content, while following the rules for ATS compliance:
ATS COMPLIANT RESUME EXAMPLE #1
What Makes this Resume Effective:
Using one color sparingly and strategically to highlight different sections.
Using lines to separate the section headers and break up the resume for easy scanning.
Including a text box in place of a table to add a subtle backdrop and interesting visual element at the top of the resume. Tables are generally not readable by ATS, but text blocks are.
ATS COMPLIANT RESUME EXAMPLE #2
What Makes this Resume Effective:
Using a two-column format makes the resume easy to read and scan.
Employing lines and text boxes in place of tables ensures the resume is ATS compliant while creating opportunities to use color, weights, and visuals to make the resumes stand out.
Contrasting colors effectively highlight sections and key phrases – such as job titles, company names, and core skill sets.
ATS COMPLIANT RESUME EXAMPLE #3
What Makes this Resume Effective:
Contrasting header adds an interesting visual element while ensuring the resume is still easy to read.
The “E-Style” formatting optimizes the layout for reading from left to right, which is more natural to the eye.
The use of lines and bold fonts in the section headers make it easy to jump between areas of the resume without missing key information. It breaks it up into more digestible chunks that a reader can scan through.
All resume designs copyrighted by Brooklyn Resume Studio. View more of our resume examples.
The purpose of the resume is to make a strong first impression, by highlighting your most relevant skills, experience, and knowledge. It should be impactful, concise, and provide your reader with a clear message as to why you are qualified for the role. Hiring managers scan hundreds of resumes for each job description, and no one wants to read a document full of nondescript adjectives and verbs. So choose powerful, descriptive words to boost your resume.
“Dedicated and results-oriented professional with 10 years of experience supporting marketing and advertising departments.”
“Dedicated” and “results-oriented” are phrases that most people use to describe themselves, and hold no weight from a hiring perspective. Chance are, you can name 10 people who possess similar qualities and also enjoy seeing the positive results of their hard work.
Avoid Overusing Phrases on Your Resume
Though the point isn’t to write an exhilarating action novel, you should talk about your career, your experience, and your value in an interesting and impactful way that uniquely describes you.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of overusing common phrases such as created, developed, managed, handled, coordinated because they mimic the way we speak in everyday conversations.
After multiple uses, they start to lose their integrity, and candidates sometimes try to work around the scenario by defaulting to overly-wordy phrases that say the same thing in a more drawn out way: “Was primarily responsible for the development of…”.
Take a look at the verbiage you use to describe your responsibilities, impact, and qualifications, and ask yourself if there is a choice that sounds more powerful/high level/interesting/etc.
Communicate Simple Ideas in a Powerful Way on Your Resume
Avoid overused resume verbs and replace them with these alternatives to describe your responsibilities and accomplishments:
Use instead of: created, developed, produced Use to: Convey the idea that you created something that was new and successful, whether that’s a process, guideline, workflow, or product.
Example: “Architected a new manual for training and onboarding new hires.”
Use instead of: improved, organized, coordinated, made more efficient Use to: Convey the same ideas as the words above, but that in doing so you created greater efficiency or a similar positive impact.
Example (as a verb): “Streamlined the web design process by creating a universal style guide for corporate branding.”
Example (as an adjective): “Created a streamlined process for updating the website by implementing a universal style guide outlining corporate branding guidelines.”
Use instead of: used, utilized, called upon Use to: Show how you put specific knowledge or skill sets into use to achieve a desired result.
Example: “Leveraged social media marketing skills to create a Facebook advertising campaign that increased monthly website traffic by 75%.”
Use instead of: built (relationships), developed Use to: Communicate the idea of relationship building from a more strategic angle.
Example: “Cultivated relationships with key retail partners to increase sales and market share.”
Use instead of: experience, focusing on, with knowledge of Use to: Present supporting information around areas in which you have experience or knowledge and want to emphasize.
Example: “Ten years of project management experience with significant exposure to digital media and mobile platforms.”
Additional Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out
Language in a Resume
The quality of language and content can make or break your resume, profile or cover letter.
Boring repetitive language will fall short of effectively marketing your key points, while excessive, complex, or drawn out ideas and phrases will sound artificial and like you’re filling space.
The key is to remember that less is often more, and using colorful and descriptive words to communicate your ideas will create a more impactful message around your unique value as a candidate.
Many people gloss over the importance of recommendations on LinkedIn as a key component of building a solid profile and attracting hiring managers’ attention. Asking for endorsements of your work can be a challenging process, and awkward at times. Fortunately, LinkedIn’s functionality lessens the difficulty and turns it into a streamlined method for leveraging your network and relationships and speak to your best accomplishments.
While it’s not a requirement, having LinkedIn recommendations for your work is important for several reasons:
Many, if not most, of the jobs posted on LinkedIn’s exclusive job board, require candidates to have at least 2 recommendations on their profile in order to apply.
Recommendations show instant credibility, and hiring managers may be wary of someone who has a large network and extensive work experience, but no endorsement to back up their performance.
A LinkedIn recommendation can reveal a second-degree connection that you might have in common with a hiring manager, which can boost your chances of consideration.
Your recommendations can serve as an extra marketing tool, whether you copy them onto a separate document and send it along with your resume, or you point potential employers back to your LinkedIn profile. You’ve established your credibility before they’ve even spoken to you – not every candidate can do that.
You gain more visibility by appearing on THEIR LinkedIn profile as well when they recommend you, assuming they’ve chosen to allow their recommendations to be displayed publicly.
The great news is that LinkedIn has a very structured functionality in place that makes asking for recommendations simple and less awkward. You can use the auto-generated form and fill in the details, but I recommend writing a personal message since you are technically asking for a favor.
HOW TO ASK FOR A LINKEDIN RECOMMENDATION
Here are 5 tips to request recommendations on LinkedIn:
Reach out to a variety of people who can help you highlight your professional relationships in different capacities. For example, have a mix of recommendations that include supervisors, coworkers, direct reports, and customers or clients.
Provide a couple of ideas to help the person write an effective recommendation for you. What do you want to communicate about your work experience? Give them some guidance, terms, or suggestions for an endorsement that fits your goals.
Make it as easy as possible for your contact, and don’t be afraid to suggest that you write it yourself. Some people would prefer that you do so based on what you’d like them to convey, and then they can approve and post it. It takes the guesswork (and effort) out of it for them.
Curate your recommendations carefully. You don’t have to post everyone that you receive, and having too many might lessen the impact. Focus on getting at least 3-4 quality recommendations from people who truly know your work, and include specifics around your performance and contributions, if possible.
Be willing to return the favor.
EXAMPLES OF STRONG LINKEDIN RECOMMENDATION REQUESTS
Here are a couple of examples of good recommendation requests.
Hope you’re well. I’m trying to refresh my LinkedIn presence, as I’m considering looking for a new position, and I was wondering if you would be willing to share a few words around our work together at Company XYZ. I would be happy to write a recommendation in return.
I hope you are well. I’m in the midst of a new job search, and I’m working on strengthening my LinkedIn presence. Since we worked closely together on that big project for company XYZ, would you be open to writing me a recommendation for my profile? I would be happy to provide some ideas or verbiage if that would make it easier.
Thanks in advance!
Hiring managers and recruiters do take notice of your recommendations, so it’s important to put your best foot forward and keep a well-polished, professional LinkedIndigital presence that effectively markets your value. It’s a tough race out there, and every little bit can count!
Do you need help crafting an impactful digital brand presence? BRS offers professional design services to help you create fresh, creative, and professional websites, infographics, logos, and business cards to complement your resume and other job search marketing materials.
From spelling and grammatical errors to flowery language and absent keywords, there’s certainly no shortage of resume mistakes you could make. But there is one surefire kiss of death for most job seekers: submitting a two- or, dare we say it, three-page resume.
“If you’re fresh out of college, you may have a few internships under your belt, but by no means should you have a two-page resume,” says Christopher Ward, founder at Ward Resumes.
Even many mid- and executive-level job hunters would benefit by sticking to a one-page resume, says professional resume writer Laurie J. James, since hiring managers have short attention spans. “When your resume is competing with dozens or hundreds of applications, hiring managers don’t have time to look at a two-page resume,” she says.
Don’t think you can shorten your resume to one 8.5-by-11-inch document? Here’s how to squeeze everything onto one page so you’ll outshine the competition.
1) DON’T TAKE STYLE SHORTCUTS
You might be tempted to trim margins, shorten line spacing, or shrink the font, but those not-so-obvious shortcuts stand out to recruiters and could get your resume tossed in the trash.
“You need to preserve the readability of the document,” says Dana Leavy-Detrick, owner of Brooklyn Resume Studio. “You don’t want to overwhelm the hiring manager with too much text,” she says.
What font is the best for resumes? James recommends using Cambria, with up to 14-point font for section headers and no smaller than 10-point for content.
2) WRITE CONCISELY & USE ACRONYMS
To tighten up the language on your resume—and save space—avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, or we) and articles (a, an, or the), James advises.
Also, use industry-standard abbreviations or acronyms where appropriate; for example, in many industries it’s universally known that “R&D” stands for research and development.
3) REMOVE OBSOLETE CONTENT
If you have an objective on your resume—a me-centric statement where you describe what type of job it is you’re looking for—scratch it. “Employers are focused on what their needs are,” says James, “not yours.”
Also, erase high school experience from your resume. The same goes for writing “references available upon request”—“that’s a given,” says Mir Garvy, owner and lead resume writer at Job Market Solutions.
As for having a section on interests, “generally speaking, that information is not what’s going to get you hired,” says James. There are exceptions, such as when your hobby directly relates to the job. “If you’re applying for a position at The PGA and you’re a lifelong golf player, then I would include it” on your resume, says James.
4) CONSOLIDATE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION
Your address should not be eating up multiple lines on your resume. “You only need what city you live in, not your full address,” says Ward.
Also, instead of separating your phone number, email address, and social media accounts by line, use vertical bars to divide the information and include everything on one line.
5) REMOVE SOFT SKILLS
“Don’t list subjective skills, like leadership, on your resume,” Garvy says. Instead, focus on highlighting hard skills that make you more marketable, such as proficiency in Excel or a second language.
Mirroring the language used in the job posting will also help your resume get past applicant-tracking systems, which is the software used by employers to scan resumes for keywords. “So, if the job posting lists certain skills, include them on your resume,” says Leavy-Detrick.
6) ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY SECTION HEADERS
The summary—a three- to four-sentence pitch where you highlight what makes you uniquely qualified for the job—should appear at the top of your resume, but you don’t need to label it “summary.” “That’s just a waste of space,” says Ward.
Also, instead of creating separate sections for professional and volunteer experience, combine them under one “experience” section. “Relevant volunteer experience is not something that you should necessarily cut when trimming your resume,” says Ward.
If you’re entry-level, volunteer work can help boost your resume. If you’re more experienced, that volunteer work, like a hobby, could give you an edge over a similarly qualified candidate, if it’s highly relevant.
One of the most challenging aspects of the job search is how to make your resume stand out among hundreds of potential competitors. In today’s saturated job market, it’s critical that your resume follow key guidelines around design, content, and formatting to ensure that it appeals to hiring managers, while also meeting Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliance.
An effective resume is a combination of well-written content (which includes relevant keywords) and attractive, optimized design. Falling short in one area will significantly affect the other. The details are key – everything from your font selection, to your wording choices, and whether you use bullets versus paragraphs for your job description will impact whether your resume makes it through the filter.
So how can you craft a winning resume that stands out in today’s ultra-competitive job market?
Optimize Your Content for Keyword Relevance
Look at the common threads and keywords used in the job description, and make sure those are echoed throughout the resume. Identify the most relevant keywords – skills, attributes, job titles – that are used to describe the ideal candidate, and make sure those are used liberally throughout your resume.
It’s important to follow the language in the job description as it may vary between companies and job listings. The way you refer to something in your field may not be the same way it’s denoted in the job description. For instance, your resume may refer to your role as a “software engineer” while the job description uses the term “programmer” instead.
Communicate Responsibilities & Impact
An ideal resume is accomplishment driven, using a format of “Did A which resulted in B.” For example: “Created social media posts that increased website traffic by 40% within one month.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to focus solely on numbers. Showing impact is all about connecting your day-to-day responsibilities with positive outcomes – in other words, how did your role directly contribute to the goals/objectives of the organization?
These can be metrics or figures – such as revenue growth, sales – but they can also be non-numerical aspects, such as creating a better culture, improving morale or engagement, contributing to the success of a high-profile project, turning around a struggling client relationship, starting a new group or division, or developing employees into higher roles to help the company retain its top talent. For example:
“Created standardized rules for tracking invoices that improved efficiency and payment processing timelines.”
Include a Strong Opening Summary Section
Many people leave off the resume summary, and that’s a huge mistake. Not only is your summary (or objective) an easy way to customize the resume to the role, it’s also an opportunity to work critical keywords into the resume. It’s the first section a hiring manager will read and helps set the tone for the rest of the document.
Utilize the summary section to talk about your level of experience, core skills and strengths, and other value that you bring to the table. Keep it to no more than 3-5 lines or bullet points and include relevant keywords from the job description. Get help with summary examples.
Format Your Resume So It’s Easy to Scan
Your resume should be easy to scan/read as recruiters spend a maximum of several seconds reviewing your credentials. This means your job titles, company names, and dates of employment should be clearly defined, sections should be adequately spaced apart, and you are using concise bulleted lists or paragraphs to describe your role and responsibilities.
Get Creative With Color & Design
Avoid unnecessary graphics, decorative fonts, photos (in the US), and other visuals that detract from the content. Instead, opt for conservative use of color, clean, modern looking fonts, and elements like bars to separate out sections and create an interesting visual flow. While an infographic resume may seem creative and attractive, it will not comply with ATS guidelines and can be difficult for hiring managers to read.
What is the Best Font for a Resume?
When writing your resume, choose a font that’s easy to read on-screen and that prints out legibly. Good choices include clean, modern sans-serif fonts, such as Helvetica, Arial, Franklin Gothic New, Avenir, and Century Gothic in 10 or 11-point size.
Bullets or Paragraphs?
Selecting the proper format for your resume comes down to how much information is being communicated within the description, and what method will enable the reader to easily scan through the document. You can opt for short paragraphs, a bulleted list, or a combination of the two.
If you use bullets, keep your list between 5-10 points, with each point taking up no more than 2 lines on a page. Or start with a 3-4 line paragraph summarizing your position, followed by supporting bullet points around your specific responsibilities and accomplishments. Lengthy bulleted lists and dense paragraphs are difficult to read and increase the chances that key information will be overlooked.
Do you need help crafting an impactful digital brand presence? BRS offers professional design services to help you create fresh, creative, and professional websites, infographics, logos, and business cards to complement your resume and other job search marketing materials.
I love coming up with a solid resume design as much as I enjoy writing them. A well-thought-out design only makes great content that much better. And of course, the opposite also holds true, that ineffective presentation will actually detract from the quality of the content, and how well it’s received.
Writing a resume is like putting together a complex puzzle – you have literally hundreds of pieces of information to connect together into a cohesive end product, and you have to do so in a way that makes sense and is visually appealing to your reader.
I come from an artistic background, so I’ve always enjoyed the strategy and design challenge of infusing an eye-catching look and feel into a document that poses its own set of stringent formatting standards. It truly is its own form of information design.
I often referenced The Information Design Handbook as I was educating myself on creating effective information flow, and understanding the balance between the display of information on the page and its function.
I’ll share with you a couple of practical insights into the principles of effective information design and presentation tactics that I incorporate into my work, and that you can adapt to your own process for designing eye-catching, story-telling resumes that appeal to hiring managers and stand out from the crowd of blah. Let’s examine 3 key theories:
Theory 1: Our capacity for learning is linked with our emotional state. Create a favorable path for your message by setting your user at ease.
This idea examines the behavior of the “users” who are reading your document, your web page, or anything else. It states that your audience will naturally gravitate toward familiar and easily accessible information in preference to sources that require greater effort. So think about this in the context of readability and scan-ability. Is the information laid out on a page in a way that encourages your audience to scan through it easily, or are they likely to be deterred by big blocks of text, lengthy bulleted sections, or distracting formatting elements or justification?
E. St. Elmo Lewis, a pioneer of American Advertising, supports this idea in saying, “The organization of content directly affects our ability to receive a message. If the information appears jumbled and overwhelming, viewers will disconnect.”
Theory 2: Information overload will affect a reader’s ability to process and understand information due to the overwhelming amount of data available.
Information overload leaves us unable to determine which information and relevant and credible, and in the case of a resume, cramming too much information can limit your chances of fair consideration by clouding your core message. In addition to what I mentioned earlier about having too much information on a page, it’s equally important to make sure you’re including only the most relevant information, versus bloating your job descriptions and summary statements with everything you’ve ever done. If you’re going for an Art Direction position and your current role also has you wearing a lot of hats, it might make sense to leave out the part about being the interim office manager so as not to detract from your key qualifying points.
Theory 3: Don’t decorate, design.
As I’ve always said, resumes (and their cover letter, bio, social media, and LinkedIn counterparts) are content driven, not design driven. Snazzy design will never make up for poor, unconvincing content. Keep the design of your resume simple when incorporating visual elements or formatting aspects. Focus on clarity by doing the minimum necessary to convey each idea. That’s not to say you can’t experiment with different fonts, layouts, or even text colors. But If it doesn’t serve a communication function, leave it out.
What I love about applying the concepts of information design to the resume process, besides that few people think to do it, is that these are tried and true methods from experts on communication, knowledge exchange, and how we as humans interpret information through design. While it borders on common sense in some facets, these are also concepts that can make or break the effectiveness of your resume and your marketing approach as a whole.
Several years ago, we created a lot of infographic-style creative resume designs for clients. It was in demand, and I enjoyed it because it was a great way to combine my expertise in resume writing and HR, with my creative background in art & design.
Then I realized that ideology was more about me than it was my customer. People were buying them – a lot of them. But I stopped offering them altogether.
Pulling the plug on a highly profitable product is a tough call, but a necessary one if you want to continue to retain your customer base, and be providing the best quality product for their investment. And that’s it – while the creative resumes looked nice, and even communicated well, graphical resumes simply aren’t what hiring managers want to see most of the time.
I create tools to help people get hired quicker, not make them look creative.
Will a Designed Resume Help Me Stand Out?
Yes, having a flashy resume will make you stand out. For a second. And in a job-seeking world where it takes a hiring manager approximately 6 seconds to decide if you’re qualified for the job by looking at your resume, that’s arguably a good chunk of time.
But here’s the thing with overly-dynamic design and resumes – it’s often interesting, and even more often poorly executed. And when it is interesting, that supposed wow factor just comes at the expense of the overall message you’re trying to convey through your content, and that’s a recipe for failure.
I hear what you’re saying: “Well, what’s the difference if they’re not reading my resume in the first place? At least having an interesting design will get them to look at it.”
There is a big difference between looking at a resume and reading it. The only people who might get away with a flashy infographic resume are creative industry professionals, and after 10 years of recruiting for that industry specifically, I will tell you honestly that I have rarely ever seen someone get hired using one.
But fear not, as there are still a couple of creative tactics you can employ to give your resume a well-designed look that helps it stand out among a sea of Helvetica 12 point devotees.
Play with font and formatting in your resume headline.
You don’t want to be too liberal in your font choice for the body of your document because you want it to be easily readable. But you can deviate slightly with the font, style, and color choice for the header of your resume, i.e. your name and contact information. But use that creativity within reason. I’m a big fan of Helvetica Neue Light – it’s a crisp, clean, light font that gives a slightly stylistic and modern look to text, and I often like to play around with different shades of gray, or even a subtle color to add a little pop.
Incorporate small, non-invasive imagery into your contact info.
I typically encourage people not to put unnecessary graphics on resumes or other documents, but one place you can integrate a more visual element is in displaying your social media profiles, phone number, even email address. Keep it small, 1 color scheme, and make sure it doesn’t detract from the rest of the document.
Incorporate color & shading into the formatting.
Subtle color and shading can be an effective way to separate out columns and organize different sections of information. Play around with a shaded table for the section header to incorporate a visual element.
Add a page border.
Finally, a thin single or double-line page border can give a sleek look to your resume and is another way to subtly add color to the document without going overboard. Keep the border around the half-inch margin and use no more than a 1 point line weight. Make sure the border isn’t so commanding that it draws your eye away from the main content of the document.
A creatively designed resume is only half the equation – it needs to be written well above all, telling a story around your career, using key phrases that best describe your value, & convey a brand that speaks to the skills, strengths, and experience you bring to the table. That is what they’re buying.
There are multiple ways to approach your job search, and they don’t necessarily have to start with a clearly defined job description. Job seekers often tell me that their biggest challenges are around establishing their starting point and strategy – What am I looking for, and how do I find it?
While everyone’s career goals and obstacles are unique and variable, when you break it down, most job seekers fall into 1 of 3 categories:
1) Those with a very defined and linear career path within a certain specialization that they continue to build upon.
For example, a graphic designer, who becomes a senior designer, and eventually an art or creative director. Their challenge is in understanding what differentiates them in comparison to their competition, who likely has a similar background and skill set.
2) Career changers looking to shift focus entirely, whether it’s the type of job, the type of industry, or both.
For example, someone with a 10-year career in corporate marketing who now wants to focus on non-profit fundraising work. Their challenge is in identifying the transferrable skills that will get them in the door, and selling those skills in a way that is going to position them as competent, able to easily adapt, and worth the investment when up against folks with previous hands-on industry or job experience.
3) Those who define themselves and their careers by their portfolio of versatile and transferrable skills.
These people have generally held different types of jobs that don’t fit into a singular category, and have a diversified range of skills and talents. Their challenge is in how to connect all of those dots and package those different skills to fit a particular job description. They may have a generalized skill-based resume, as well as multiple versions of the resume tailored to highlight each of their core skill sets.
It’s less important that you fit yourself completely into one of the 3 job seeker profiles than it is to recognize the challenges you’re facing in your own career scope, and how that translates into the best type of strategy for conducting your search.
Each of these types of job seekers will be best served by structuring their job search around one of these 3 strategies that addresses the specific challenges which that person faces. There may be overlap at times, but this will give you a solid place to start:
Strategy 1: Structure Your Job Search Search Around a Specific Title or Focus
Who Benefits: Job Seekers with a linear career path (Group 1)
You know exactly what you want (for the most part) for the title or job description that best suits you, the level of experience and compensation, and the type of environment, industry or organization to which that role, and you, are best suited. Your strategy revolves around searching jobs based on title, whether it’s through a job board, a referral basis, researching openings via company websites, or setting up Google alerts. Networking is easy for you because you have a clear idea of the message you want to communicate about yourself and what you want others to know about you.
Strategy 2: Structure Your Search Around a Specific Type of Company or Industry
Who Benefits: Career Changers (Group 2)
This type of strategy is best suited for the person who is less clear on the job title they want but very certain they would fare best in a certain type of environment, such as a startup, a creative agency, or the non-profit sector. Your job search is based around finding that perfect culture fit, and you’re likely willing to take a lower paying or more entry-level role to get your foot in the door with a great company, possibly one you can grow with and learn from. Networking can be key, as it may take a credible referral paired with a great resume to help you break through the lack of experience barrier.
Strategy 3: Structure Your Search Around Specific Skill Sets
Who Benefits: The Professional With Widely Diversified Talents (Group 3)
You have a wide set of skills that would position you well for several different types of jobs, but you don’t want to come off as a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. You may be less concerned about job title and the type of company, as long your next position allows you to leverage a certain talent or group of skills. The key to being competitive is in narrowing down that list to a more specific focus and tailoring your resume appropriately. Identify your top 3 or 4 strengths, and then use that to drive your search by looking at where those skills would bring value to an organization. The goal is to gain clarity so that you’re not throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. It requires a little more research on your end to narrow down the possibilities and get a sense of where you “fit”, but it will help you feel more in control of your search and sell yourself more effectively.
The key to choosing the best job search strategy is in getting clear around your unique challenges and core interests. What piques your interest the most.
Is it the title/level/salary, the type of skill involved, or the culture fit?
What poses the biggest hurdle for you, and what do you need to overcome it?
How will understanding that challenge help you market yourself more effectively to that desirable criteria?
It’s all about building clarity, and while that can take time, you are positioning yourself for a much greater level of success (and much less frustration and overwhelm) in your search.
Q: How do I address being laid off in a resume, cover letter, or on an interview?
I was let go recently, not due to performance issues, and I’m concerned about how to communicate this to potential employers in a way that doesn’t make me look bad.
A: The first question to address is that the severance of ties wasn’t based on performance and that it was likely due to factors outside of your control, whether that was restructuring, layoffs, financial issues, loss of business, etc. In this case, honesty can be the best policy.
Once you’ve made clear the terms of your separation, you want to bring the conversation back around to your strengths, and get away from the potential negatives.
In the Interview
If you’re in the interview, talk about why this ended up being a good opportunity for you in the end. Perhaps it pushed you to really think about where you want to go next, or what skills you wanted to work on developing, and then relate that to the opportunity at hand.
A Recent Departure
If the departure was recent, it may not be necessary to go into detail in the cover letter. It may suffice to simply say that you “wrapped up your most recent role with X Company in June,” and are pursuing your next opportunity in whatever specialization you’re targeting. The resume is not the place to address reasons for leaving a company, only the timeline of your employment there.
If You Were Fired
Now, if your departure IS based on your performance, don’t lie about it. If they conduct reference checks and find out that the information you provided is misleading, that can be grounds for rescinding the offer. Be honest about the separation, and then again, pull the conversation back around to your strengths:
“I came to an agreement with my supervisor that perhaps my role wasn’t the best fit on both sides. I appreciated her honesty with me because it helped me realize that my strength is more on the internal operations side than in a client-facing role. I’m really great behind the scenes when it comes to coordinating meetings and logistics. That’s why I feel this opportunity is such a great fit…”
We write them begrudgingly, usually during periods of transition, or tumult. We fiddle with phrasing and format, agonizing over how to craft our qualifications into the best resume possible.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
For smart job seekers, resumes are an opportunity — to make a case for their candidacy, to get the salary they’ve earned, and to convince any hiring manager she would be crazy not to hire them.
MONEY teamed up with Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, to help you become one of those job seekers. Here’s how to write the perfect resume — and a free resume template that you can download and use for your next job interview.
When it comes to resume format and design, opt for a clean layout. A recent study from the job site Ladders found that resumes with so-called F-pattern and E-pattern layouts, which mimic how our eyes tend to scan web pages, hold a recruiter’s attention for longer than those aligned down the center, or from right to left.
There is no one specific “best” font for resumes. You should use the same font style throughout, Leavy-Detrick says, but play with different weights and sizes to draw a recruiter’s eye to key parts of your resume. Sans serif fonts usually work best — Franklin Gothic, Calibri, and Avenir (the last of which we used for the attached template) are three of Leavy-Detrick’s favorites.
 Make Your Resume Stand Out
If you’re applying for an investment banking job, a hot-pink resume probably won’t do you any favors. But subtle pops of color, like the orange used here, will work for just about everyone.
“It’s very minimal, and gives a bit of a design element,” Leavy-Detrick says.
If you do use color, “Use it sparingly,” she warns. “Stick to one color, and one color that’s going to print well.”
 Add a Skills Section in Your Resume
Lead with the good stuff. The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths,” Leavy-Detrick says.
Hard skills, tangible attributes that can easily be measured, take precedence here, so highlight them accordingly. If you’re in a tech-driven field, software and programming expertise is what employers want to see on your resume. If you’re in a creative industry, design and communication skills might be your best bet.
 Make a Resume That Shows Impact
To prove you’re worth a hiring manager’s time, highlight recent examples of what you bring to the table. Statistics that build upon your skills section are most impactful — bonus points if they show a track record of growth, revenue, and profitability, Leavy-Detrick says.
If you’re drawing a blank, she suggests adding resume skills that can help solve a “problem area” for the company you’re applying to.
“Impact doesn’t always have to be measured by metrics,” she says. “Cultural improvements, special projects, customer growth … anything that showed success can work.”
 What to Leave Off a Resume
Be discerning with the content—don’t list salary requirements, use tables or columns, or tick off every job you’ve ever had. The same goes for social media profiles. Unless your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s probably best to leave those off your resume.
“Only include them if they add value in some way,” Leavy-Detrick says. “If you have zero followers, you may not want to advertise that.”
 Tweak Keywords to Build the Best Resume for Each Job
Don’t make the mistake of answering each job posting with the same generic resume. Instead, take a few extra minutes to mirror it to the keywords and phrases within the job ad. You’ll be much more likely to make it to the next round of hiring, especially if an applicant tracking system (a computer program designed to weed out candidates out) has anything to do with it.
“Get as close as you can to the language of the job description, or at least look for common denominators,” Leavy-Detrick advises.