Writing a standout resume isn't easy. Let’s answer some quick questions before you even open Microsoft Word. Have you ever written a resume before? Do you have a specific reason to be writing this resume (job, club, leadership position, etc.)? What section of your experience do you value the most? All of these come into heavy consideration when writing a resume - if you’re applying to be a stock trader, the recruiter is going to care much more about how you worked in a financial position rather than volunteered in a soup kitchen. You have to really focus on what the recruiter is looking for and iterate that into what you want to say. Resumes come in millions of shapes and sizes, but we divided these up into two categories: a traditional and modern format.
The Traditional Format
When you think of a traditional resume, you think of a document with Times New Roman, all black, consistent fonts. Looking over handfuls of them, it’s hard to differentiate a project manager resume to a sales resume. There are a few ways to stand out - especially with formatting. The best way to explain is to go by job sector - to show you exactly what recruiters are looking for.
Classic Business - Banking, VC, Corporate, PWM
A rule of thumb for a corporate business application is to consider what you’re going to be wearing if you get the job. Your resume should reflect how the employees dress - a well-tailored suit means a clean-cut and concise resume. The difference between this resume and another traditional resume is what lies within the text - businessmen and recruiters of the corporate world are looking for trigger verbs and your ability to articulate what you did by using percentages and specific numbers.
Again, like the classic business format, your resume should be standard in formatting, but the text should be completely different. Whether it’s at an IT position or a software engineering position, any experience worth mentioning, as well as ALL your technical skills are beneficial to put on your resume. Also, if you studied computer science in college, or were a member/leader in a computer science group/hack-a-thon, it’s worth mentioning the events and achievements the group had while you participated/led. Most importantly, it’s a great idea to section off a part of your resume just for the projects you completed, both for classes and individually. A sentence summary per project will suffice - and be sure to mention the language the project was encoded in. Finally, any positions where you taught technical skills, such as a tutor or teaching assistant, are worth mentioning, and the people who employed you in that regard are great references.
There’s a lot of leeway for this type of resume, or sometimes a curriculum vitae or CV. This all depends on the field you’re going into, but the main thing you want to highlight is your previous academic experience, ranging from research positions to specific classes taken to big class research projects. Like the technology resume, the professors who employed you as a TA or researcher work as great references and points to boost your rank in the resume pile. Also, certain certifications pertaining to the field and special class accomplishments, along with the obvious education experience, are essential and you should really optimize what you say in the bullets. Be specific in the amount of hours you worked on a project, the statistics and findings you came across, and overall how it built your experience.
The Modern Format
Depending on the position you’re applying for, a non-standard approach may be necessary to receive the position, or even an interview, you’re applying for. A modern resume frees up a lot of leeway in terms of looks. For example, a graphic design recruiter is going to notice a well-laid out resume with solid organization, rather than one that’s formatted traditionally. Formatting a fancy, intriguing resume is almost as hard as it sounds. How do you make an impactful document while delivering the information recruiters want to see?
Graphic Design positions are becoming more and more popular with the rise of social media. Companies are paying graphic design firms big money to expose their product to customers worldwide. This also means that the positions are going to be popular and standing out is not going to be easy. A few key things to hone in are your biggest projects and your skill level at certain big-name programs, such as Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. Sometimes, a portfolio will be requested along with your resume, so be sure to include a bit about that.
This resume format will be quite similar to the graphic design template, but I recommend implementing a more grid-like design - incorporate your architectural style into the layout of your resume. Also, obviously highlight the firms you worked for, but also note what you designed in the buildings and how that was incorporated into the entire work. The communication skills you develop while working with other designers/contractors are also important to highlight, as well as the software you used and how proficient you are in the software
Start-ups are the niche market of job searches. Pleasing a recruiter in this space isn’t necessarily hard - the problem here is the outlandish approach most start-ups have to the recruitment process. I have personally applied to and worked at a couple of start-ups, and the application and interview processes have been completely different. My first experience was very formal - I wore a suit and had a corporate-type resume written, but all of the employees were wearing t-shirts and jeans. My second experience was completely informal - I wore a polo shirt to the interview (if it’s even worth calling it an interview), everyone was in casual clothing, and I had to ask if they wanted my resume. That being said, every start-up is different. You have to do some research and gauge the business itself. Any style of resume is effective given the position you’re applying for, so don’t be afraid to go with an outlandish format if you’re going to a new tech start-up. When in doubt, use a traditional format and always dress up to the interview. Also, being the founder of two start-ups, I can attest to the fact that start-ups are really looking for someone who will be on board with their idea. No matter how you present yourself, as long as you leave a lasting impact on them and illustrate that you’re ready to work hard for their cause, then they will seriously consider you among the other applicants.
Resumes are the focal point of a job application. They are the document that gets you to an interview, that gets your name out there, and sometimes will secure you a job - so having one that’s well-written and perfected for the industry is big key to success. If you’re not looking to write and reformat a million resumes, check out our website. We are Backlight and we utilize seasoned copy editors in parallel with cutting-edge AI to write the most impactful resumes in any field - all for an affordable cost. Check out some of our unique templates and sign up - it’s an investment, not an expense, that you won't regret.