Have you ever copied and pasted your Word doc resume into the body of an email message and sent it off to a hiring manager or recruiter? You may have thought this was a good idea, since an attachment from an unknown sender (you) may be suspected to contain viruses and not to be opened.
But try this: send that same email to yourself and open it up. You may be surprised to see broken text, strange symbols, and garbled text placement; in fact, nothing much that resembles your original resume.
What this demonstration illustrates is the last key to creating a resume with FLAVOR: readability.
The resume you likely spent hours agonizing over, polishing and fine-tuning, can instantly become gobblygook to the end-user (the recruiter or hiring manager) if you are unaware of the readability issues for electronically sent resumes.
This is especially true for email, because it is always in an HTML environment. It may also be true for online applications, unless the job posting specifies that a Word doc resume can be uploaded and submitted.
So, think of it this way. There are two different sets of users that potentially can view your resume: computers and humans. The resume format you submit for each must be structured to optimize readability. If not, you may be spending hours of fruitless effort in your job search.
For computers, an ASCII-text resume (otherwise known as a plain-text resume) is best. Human eyes, on the other hand, are not attracted to plain-text because, well, it’s plain and boring! Instead, a Word doc or PDF resume with visually pleasing components and plenty of white space is preferable.
The most common challenges to readability for humans is jam-packed text, miniscule margins, assorted fonts, multiple (three or more) font sizes, and inconsistent structure.
For example, aim for short blocks of text (no more than four lines) followed by one empty line. This creates white space surrounding one “nugget” of information, which is more easily read, assimilated, and understood by the reader.
Similarly, the use of bullets and boldface can draw the human eye to easily find the most important information in all the text contained in the resume. Do not use bullets for every line of text. Limit the use of bullets to your achievements and accomplishments for maximum impact.
By the way, accomplishments are not simply your job duties listed in bullet fashion, but rather the results of your job duties. In addition, not all job duties culminate in exceptional results that make you stand out from your competition.
Understand that all the information on your resume is not equally compelling. Review your resume and ask yourself: could the most important (most persuasive) information be found and read by a hiring manager within 10 seconds?
If not, consider ditching irrelevant information, cutting down the verbiage describing your job duties and responsibilities, and highlighting the differentiating must-have elements. Those essential components include accomplishments, value, and leverage via personal branding and unique qualifications.
For more on writing a resume with FLAVOR, see my previous posts:
FOCUS – The Starting Point for Resume Success