Michael Benjamin has worked at ad agencies, design studios, and on in-house creative teams. He’s currently an adjunct teacher at the University of Colorado and the Creative Director at Anthem Branding in Boulder. This week, he shares four tips to help your resume stand out and get you an interview—just in time to refresh your resume for Fall internship/job season. Here's Michael—
The first thing to know when you’re applying for a job is that people are busy, and will likely only spend a few seconds (the internet says 6!) looking at your resume.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading (and deleting) resumes. Sometimes, a candidate will nail it: nice to look at, easy to read, lists key accomplishments, and makes me want to get in touch with them. More often, I see resumes that are ineffective. I’m not clear on what someone has accomplished, the layout is hard to follow, or the design makes it difficult to read. I hope these tips will help you create an amazing resume and score an interview.
1) Format your resume so the important stuff is easy to find.
Put your name at the very top. Include your contact information (phone number and email). I don’t need to know your home address, that’s creepy. Include your website and any social platforms that are applicable to the position.
Some people like to include a summary or an objective. Fun fact: both are a waste of space. Work that information into your cover letter, and leave it off your resume.
The highlights of your resume are the skills and experience sections. This is where you tell me what you’re good at and what you’ve accomplished so far in your career. Remember that your resume is just a preview, so tell me the most impressive tidbits and leave out the rest.
Include your educational details at the bottom. I don’t need to know your GPA. Brag about awards, non-profit work, and other accomplishments at the very end. Liking cats is not an accomplishment.
2) Focus on what you did, what you learned, and the results.
The whole point of your resume is to get me to think “I want to meet this person.” Help me make that decision. When detailing your professional experience, start by clearly outlining what your responsibilities were in a role, what you learned that makes you awesome today, and tangible results that made your team or clients happy.
Avoid clichéd phrases like “highly motivated” or “team player”. Everyone says that. Instead, be specific about what you’ve accomplished in a role. If you’re just starting out and don’t have impressive numbers to brag about, include what you learned, or how that experience made you a better professional human.
3) Stick to a clean and classic design.
Any time I see a resume with fake marble textures, angled or rotated text, or glamorous headshots, I immediately want to skip to the next one. Progress bars showing your proficiency in a topic or with an app are even worse (it's subjective!).
Instead, use legible typefaces, pick font sizes that aren’t too big or too small, and include plenty of white space so the design feels open and inviting.
If you need help with the look of your resume, then check out Andy Stone’s resume template. He says it’s just for designers, but everyone deserves to have a beautiful resume. If you’re having trouble picking a typeface, check out The 40 Best Google Fonts on Typewolf. All are free and most are perfect for a resume.
4) Limit your resume to one page and keep it brief.
You’ve heard this one before. That’s because it’s true. Show me that you know how to edit and that you value my time. Your resume never needs to be longer than one page. If your resume takes too long to read – or just looks too long – I may just skip it altogether. When you’re editing, pretend that you don’t actually want to read your own resume. Be brutal, leave emotion out of it, and only include the best stuff.
Bonus tip: Proofread!
If your resume has even just one typo, it makes you look unprofessional and I’m going to have second thoughts about wanting you on my team. I don’t know about places where you’ve worked, but my clients get upset when we spell something incorrectly. Show me that you care and please proofread your resume multiple times before you send it out. Try to have someone else look at it too, if you can.