Career Resource Center

The Resume Comparison: Does Your Resume Measure Up?

For any given job, a hiring manager might look at hundreds of resumes, and they don’t really have time to do more than skim each document. If your resume doesn’t quickly grab their attention, it could cost you a job interview. So, to ensure that your resume heads to interview pile, let’s engage in a little resume comparison between a great resume and a lackluster resume.

The Design Strategy

A flashy design with multiple fonts and colors might initially grab a hiring manager’s attention, but if there’s more style than substance, this hyper focus on design is a waste of time. A top resume might feature a few special design elements, such as using a creative font for the person’s first name, but the rest of the document should be simple and straightforward.

Each section of the resume should be labeled clearly, and you should use the same typeface for each section header. A poor resume will feature too many typefaces, too many colors and, basically, too much design. Unless you work in a highly creative industry, such as graphic design or another art-based profession, you want to focus on achieving a crisp, professional look that catches the eye, but doesn’t confuse the eye.

Organization Is Key

In general, your resume should include about five sections. Your first section will include your name and contact information. Be sure to double and triple-check this information. Even if you hire a professional resume writer, this pro might be able to avoid grammar, spelling and syntax errors, but they don’t know if your phone number is correct or not.

Education is typically the next section, where you simply list the educational institutions where you earned your degrees. Generally, this is listed chronologically, with the most recent education listed first then going backward in time. In addition, to listing any degrees you earned, adding additional information can be helpful, particularly if you are entry-level or fairly new to the professional job market.

For instance, if you graduated with honors or perhaps served as the editor of the college newspaper or minored in something that might be helpful in your industry, it can be smart to add this information.

After education, typically you will list your Work Experience, again in reverse chronological order. If you are an entry-level applicant with no professional experience, feel free to add jobs you held during college and perhaps high school. Once you’ve been out in the professional world for a few years, college and high school jobs typically are no longer relevant.

Once you’ve completed Work Experience, move on to your Skills section. This includes concrete skills you possess, such as industry certifications or proficiency with certain types of software or perhaps your fluency in multiple languages. When making a resume comparison, we see many resumes that include items such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Everyone knows how to use these programs, so don’t include it.

If you ask a hiring manager for a resume comparison, they will tell you that a poor resume will lists skills such as hard-worker, self-starter or team player as skills. These are skills, to be sure, but anyone can state that they possess these skills. Rather than say that explicitly, prove it in the Work Experience section. For instance, if you are a hard-worker, a self-starter or creative, list that you developed a company handbook that increased efficiency by 40% or developed an inventory management system that reduced costs by 30%. This says much more than just simply stating some vague soft skill.

Beyond these first four categories, you might want to include something a bit more personal, to provide hiring managers with an idea of who you are as a person. Adding an “Interests & Hobbies” section is becoming more and more popular, but pick these outside interests carefully.

For instance, if you run marathons, this can be a good addition as it showcases your work ethic and ability to reach a goal. Adding volunteer work can shed some light on your character. Adding something fun, such as taking gourmet cooking classes showcases your personality and that you like to try new things. At any rate, be thoughtful with this section and keep it short.

Be Ready For Applicant-Tracking Software

If you submit your resume online, chances are good that it will be run through applicant-tracking software (ATS) before it ever reaches the hands of a hiring manager. Therefore, your resume must include some of the keywords listed in the job description, and they need to match these words exactly.

For instance, if you are applying for a marketing position listed as “marketing executive” in the job posting, don’t call yourself a “marketing guru.” The software won’t intuit that “guru” is in anyway a synonym for “executive.” Likewise, if you label each section with quirky headers such as “What I Know” instead of “Skills,” the software program is not going to understand. It’s designed to handle basic standard resume formats.

When thinking about a resume comparison, a good resume contains the keywords needed for applicant-tracking software, yet doesn’t simply read like a list of targeted keywords. You need to create a resume that reads smoothly for a hiring manager, yet triggers applicant-tracking software. This can be tricky, and this is one of the many reasons why it can be smart to pay a professional resume writer to create your resume. At Resume Writing Group, our team can provide you with a resume that is ATS-ready, as well as a resume that appeals to an actual human.

Applicant-tracking software is another reason why design might not be as important as you think. A basic design with 1-inch margins and information listed in reverse chronological order is typically your best bet. If you are sorry to lose the beautiful design you worked so hard to create, don’t fret. That fancier resume still can be handed out at job fairs or during an interview or when you make a new contact.

Short & Sweet Is Best

Typically, your resume should only consume a single page. Hiring managers don’t have time to read a five-page dossier about your life history. For some executive positions, a second page might be necessary, but all entry-level and most professional resumes should be just one page in length.

Of course, for a resume comparison wouldn’t be complete without talking about errors. A bad resume might look amazing and the job candidate might possess all of the needed skills, but if the hiring manager spies a misspelled word or two (or more), then your chances of gaining an interview will drop. In fact, hiring managers often drop a resume with errors into the trash.

To ensure that your resume will stand out during any resume comparison, hiring one of our professional resume writers is your best bet. We will provide you with an attractive, error-free, dynamic resume that grabs the attention of hiring managers. We also can provide you with a resume suitable for applicant-tracking software. No matter what type or level of resume you might need, the team at Resume Writing Group is equal to the task.


Jacob Mathias

Jacob Mathias is a content writer and SEO specialist for Resume Writing Groups. He also works as a web developer and designer. He's passionate about sharing ways on how to get the job you want and living life to the fullest.

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