What font is your resume? Times New Roman? Does it have borders and lots italics, underlining and strange formatting?
While the design of your resume is nowhere near as important as the content, having a clean, clear and modern design across all your job application documentation can really help you to stand out from the crowd.
Imagine you are reading 100 job applications. I think you'll agree that the resume and cover letter that are easy to read, with clear sections and matching formatting are more likely to grab your attention.
However just downloading a pretty looking template from the web won't necessarily cut it either.
The majority of resume templates found online are suited to the North American market. They usually include a photo and are only 1-2 pages long, with fairly minimal detail.
In Australia it isn't recommended to include a photo, and generally more detailed information is expected, after a clear summary front page.
For more on resume length and the 'summary' front page, check out this blog post on The 1 page resume.
There is also the concern that information in text boxes won't get picked up by Applicant Tracking Software, which a lot of organisations use to pre-scan applications. If your document can't be read by the computer (and key sections and words found), then your application won't even be read by a human.
For more information on Applicant Tracking Software, check out this post on Keywords 101.
So how do you ensure your resume looks good, is suitable for the Australian market AND gets through the Applicant Tracking Software?
This often comes as a shock to people, but I recommend using a standard Word document for your resume. This ensures you don't have any issues with Applicant Tracking Software.
You can still PDF the document to submit and also format the document to ensure it looks good.
My clients are always impressed at how clean, modern and clear their new resume looks. So follow these tips to ensure you get past the computer and impress the reader.
Applicant Tracking Software tips:
Use a Word document and the PDF the document to submit.
Use expected heading names to help the Applicant Tracking Software and reader. For example, Profile, Key Skills, Achievements, Career History or Experience, Education.
Ensure you use keywords from the job ad or position description throughout your resume.
Use a modern font, such as Calibri, Arial or Helvetica. My preference is Calibri Light in size 11. Don't go any smaller as it will be too hard to read.
Use bold for headings and avoid underlining and italics.
Use black or a signature colour for your headings. I like very dark blue. Don't use more than one colour in addition to your signature colour.
Consider using very dark grey rather than black for the body text, as it looks a bit cleaner and modern. However don't go too light as it won't be readable.
Add white space to the page by spacing your body text at 1.5 and having line spacing between each section.
Put your name, email, mobile and LinkedIn URL in your page 1 header. This then becomes your letterhead and can be used for all your job application documents so they match.
Put your name, email, mobile and the page number in the footer of pages 2+.
Don't add a photo unless required for your profession (such as acting). Employers can see what you look like on LinkedIn.
Use dot points to list your responsibilities, achievements and skills.
Want a resume template that works - and looks good? Get my proven resume template as a well as instructions on how to complete all sections in my Rescue Your Resume job application program. You also get a cover letter template, step-by-step instructions to makeover your LinkedIn profile, key selection criteria instructions AND job interview strategy!