Your resume outline sets the stage, it sets the tone, and it sets the direction of your resume. Your goal is to put massive amounts of effort into your resume to the point where it is so good it looks effortless. There is a saying from the TV show Futurama. They said, “When you do something right, nobody will ever know you did anything at all.”
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An Effortless Resume
Writing a good resume means coming up with a good resume outline. Start with a template and take only the headings. Do not use the template itself because it will affect how you plan your resume.
When you look up the outline of a resume, you see templates, and they are already set out into sections, subsections, and so forth. If you use this template, then you will be subconsciously limiting how much you plan to put where.
For example, the professional resume outline template you look for may have plenty of room for experience and very little very personal interests, whereas your personal interests section may be the biggest selling point, and ergo requires the most space. In short, the spaces shown on the template will subconsciously affect the space you leave when you plan your resume, and that is no good.
Plan for the Job in Hand
Your job resume outline needs to take the job you are aiming for into account. This is true if you are working towards a career. It is less important if you are going for a minimum-wage job.
As hinted earlier, you need to pay a heavier amount of focus to certain areas over others. Again, perhaps the personal interests section of your resume is more important because the job you are going for doesn’t have a lot of training programs or qualifications.
Planning for a job also means knowing what you should remove. Perhaps your experience section is going to be shorter because you would like to hide some of your experience because it makes you seem unsuitable (or maybe overqualified) for a certain job.
Leave Fonts and Formatting Until the Very Last
As you plan and create your outline, you will notice how some areas are going to be cramped, and others are going to be sparse. This is where fonts and formatting come in. If your experience section is looking a little weak, then perhaps format that area so that it doesn’t take up as much space, and maybe increase the font size to make the small area look a little fuller.
Also, as mentioned frequently in this article, you want to keep things simple without being basic. Basic formatting and setting would look like something written on a typewriter or Windows 98 computer. On the other hand, keep it simple and do not add fancy fonts or over the top graphics.
Take note that many job applications now give guidelines about fonts and formatting because they are transmitted online and the employers do not want you using fonts that are not in their libraries, or formats that their automated-resume-screening software cannot register.
Ignore Most ATS Advice
The Automated Tracking Systems that companies use to screen resumes are far more forgiving (and dumb) than most online advisers think. They will tell you that your resume outline should focus on one job, mention certain keywords, and so forth. The fact is that most of the information and advice you read can be tossed out.
It is true that ATS screens resume, but it mostly eliminates people who are completely useless, and typically uses the questions people answer in their application rather than what they put into their resume. Even so, the exclusions are usually based on easy metrics like age, or if you have a degree, and so forth: none of which should affect how you plan and outline your resume.
A decent resume outline is going to take very clear stock of your skills, education, and experience, and will lay it out in a way that makes it easy to read. Most people tell you to keep the outline of a resume very simple, but you shouldn’t mistake simple for basic. Keeping things simple means the absence of fancy formatting, extravagant fonts, and the exclusion of over the top features.
Basic means less information, less effort, and less impact. Your goal is to keep things simple (not too fancy) but making sure your resume still has an impact and is still the result of hard work. If your resume is easy to do, then you are probably doing it wrong.