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Thinking Outside the Box– But Not TOO Far

October 18, 2011 by Careerminds

Jennifer Fry
Careerminds Consultant

There is a lot of focus on standing out from the job-seeking crowd, these days, but extreme attempts to be different may run you the risk of coming off as gimmicky or inappropriate. Depending on your desired field of work, submitting a DVD in place of a paper resume, while unique, may be perceived as unprofessional; a technique such as this could work in the favor of someone looking for work in a creative, media-based industry, but the hiring manager at an accounting firm just might not “get it”.

The idea is to tailor your resume not only to the specific position you’re seeking, but also to the broader professional field. Different industries value different qualities just as different companies and positions value different qualities, and your resume cannot go without recognizing and satisfying both.

So what are job seekers in more conservative industries supposed to do to catch the attention of potential employers? Stick to the standard resume format, but use all the tools at your disposal to make the most important points immediately visible. Employers are busy people; their time is at a premium, and if your resume can’t draw them in from the start or give them what they’re looking for quickly, they may be tempted to move on, convinced this applicant isn’t worth the time it takes to sift through the resume for the good stuff.

The personal statement or summary is located at the very top of your resume—below your name and contact information—and allows employers to see at a glance exactly who you are, what you can do and what your professional goals are. To assure your point is made accurately and concisely, follow these tips:

  • Get straight to the point! Avoid wordiness and keep your statements dynamic and informative.
  • Keep it relatively short, between 50 and 200 words.
  • Use 1.5 space to make it easier to read.

If you’re still looking for something to spice up your traditional resume without going over the top, try adding a little something unexpected. A word cloud generated by the content of your resume can easily and quickly help to identify some of your most prominent traits, skills and experience. Online word cloud generators will translate your resume into a collection of the words that appear most often—the more you use a word, the larger it will appear in the cloud. Just be sure your word cloud highlights the words you want it to before you include it, otherwise you can try rewording your resume or you might avoid this addition altogether—this is also a good tool to use to determine what message your resume is sending without actually pasting into the document.

Another idea is to include a QR code on your resume that will lead a potential employer directly to your LinkedIn profile, your e-portfolio, or some other online component you think will bolster your application. QR codes have been popping up all over the place, and while they’re primarily being used in advertisements and other such product marketing capacities, some job seekers have already begun using them as a unique yet subtle addition to their resumes. Online generators will create a QR code for whatever URL you specify, and all you have to do is copy and paste.

While it is important to catch the attention of potential employers, it may not be necessary to do the figurative (or literal) song and dance; going overboard in your attempts to stand out could potentially turn some people off. Acts of desperation or gimmickry are not attractive, nor are inappropriate choices in getting creative. Stick to these simple tricks to build an attention-grabbing resume while maintaining an appropriate level of conservatism and professionalism.

Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.



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