Your First Digital Impression: Five Writing Tips That Will Get You Noticed

Part 2: Your Resumé

So you’ve written your cover letter that gets you noticed, now it’s time to make sure your resumé is just as polished – and makes you memorable. The key here is to make the recipient’s job easy.

1. Follow instructions: Send your resume in the format requested. Like we said in Part 1, read the entire job ad or post. If they request your resume in pdf format, make it a pdf (If you don’t know what a pdf is or how to make one, learn both). If  they ask for a Word document, then use Word. Copy and paste it in a form? You got it – then paste your resume in that form. 

2. Name the file with your name. When you save your file, don’t call your resume “resume”! Too many people do this, and I end up with 100 files called “resume.” This is the easiest way to look amateurish, and also a missed opportunity to make your name stick in the recipient’s mind. Attach your name to it. A file named “J_Smith_Resume” is easier for me to search and find vs. a file named “resume.” And while computers can now search for any word in a file, this still makes my job more difficult. Trust me, for the person accepting and reading resumes, possibly reviewing hundreds of submissions, having the applicant’s name in the file name is helpful. 

3. Make it relevant. I realize it’s time consuming to tailor your resume to each job application, but by moving your relevant experience to the top (and highlighting it in your cover letter), you’re making the decision much easier for the hiring person. I don’t mind – in fact, I appreciate – seeing things like past sales, restaurant, and ice-cream-scooping jobs. But put those under “Other Experience.” Relevant stuff first; other stuff second. I want to see immediately what you can do that relates to the job I’m hiring for.

Example of a no-no: Recently, I posted a social media assistant position. One respondent sent her “resume” as a series of bullet points in an email, detailing her work experience … as a graphic designer and party-planner.  All of that was wrong. 

4. Paint a picture! Quantify accomplishments and achievements at past jobs, and share specifics. “Sold tickets to fundraiser” tells me nothing. “Increased fundraising ticket sales by 50% from 2013” tells me everything. “Created videos” makes me think, “so what?” But: “Created and edited videos for arts website using iMovie” gives me more detail, and a better idea of what you can do. And if you have links to show this stuff – all the better. Add them. I’m always surprised when I hire for a social media position that the applicants don’t include their twitter handle or any blog or Facebook links. How can you show your reader what you do? Share it!

5. Review the instructions: Before you hit ‘send’ make sure you double-check the instructions. There’s a reason why the hiring party uses a specific email address, form, or system for receiving applications, and being clever and sending your resume elsewhere will not get you points. If this is a personal connection, or you’re sending a resume for an informational interview, ask the person where you should send your resume. After I posted a job on CAR for a social media assistant, one would-be applicant apparently Googled me, found my personal email address, and sent her resume there. This was the equivalent of calling a stranger at home vs. at her office to inquire about a job. I immediately deleted it. 

And, as I mentioned before, proofread it before you send! The extra few minutes you take to present yourself professionally will come across in those digital channels – and the recipient will appreciate it. By giving your digital impression a little thought and care, you will stand out from all the others who don’t.

Attached below is an example of an excellent resume worth reviewing, understanding and imitating...

File Attachment: 

Mare SwallowMare Swallow is the founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Writers Conference. She writes personal essays and tells stories at Live Lit performances. She is writing a book of job-hunting advice for Liberal Arts majors. 

Published by CAR_Jeff on Sun, 10/19/2014 - 1:08pm
Updated on Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:23pm