Is your resume holding you back? Resumes, like everything else, follow design trends. If you’re dusting off your resume for the first time in years, or if you used an aging Word template to create a new one, it might be making you look stodgy and dated. Here’s how to catch an employer’s eye in 2017.
Refresh Your Fonts and Graphics
Bold graphic backgrounds and clean fonts are in style right now. Choose a sans-serif font like Calibri over old-school serif styles like Times New Roman. Your type should look light and airy. Bold shapes are more modern than fussy details, so bypass rules and fancy bullets and go with a simple, striking background design instead. Choose a template with a design that would make sense if you were squinting at it from across the room over one with lots of meticulous detail.
Kill Any Cliches
Match your language to the formality of your industry, but avoid resume clichés at all costs. Read your copy closely and look for time-worn expressions like “goal-oriented professional” or “motivated self-starter.” Replace them with fresh, active language or write about your accomplishments and let those results speak for themselves instead.
Update Your Skills list
Cloud computing skills are at the top of the current employer wishlist, closely followed by other technical skills like data analysis and mobile development. Update your list to put the latest industry buzzwords and tech skills at the top. Do a little reading to see what employers are looking for, and be sure you’re using the most up-to-date language to describe your skill set. Teamwork, communication, and social skills never go out of style.
Be Minimal, But Be Thorough
Your resume shouldn’t look like a wall of text — be conscious of leaving lots of negative space and deep margins on the page. But balance your desire to create a readable page against the need to give complete information. Don’t leave any unexplained gaps in your timeline. Use crisp, active language to convey clear descriptions of your work history without getting wordy.
Include Your Social Links
Which social media should you include? An up-to-date LinkedIn page that matches your resume is essential. Include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat only if you are active on those media. Even if you don’t list your social media on your resume, you should check your privacy settings and make sure these sites look professional in case a recruiter stops by to check on you. If you have a personal website, include that as well. If you have an old-school e-mail address from Hotmail or AOL, now may be the time to get a Gmail address.
Set aside an afternoon to tweak the text and update the appearance of your resume so you’ll look fresh and intriguing to potential employers. If graphic design isn’t your thing, start with a fresh template or ask a friend who has design skills to help you. A resume update and makeover is the single most valuable thing you can do with your time at the beginning of a job hunt.
Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer and serial entrepreneur currently based in St. Louis, MO.