Make Your Resume Pop

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 13, 2008 · 7 comments

in Money & Career


Photo by seychelles88

Every six months or so, it’s a good idea to update your résumé. Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, it’s something you should do. You never know when an opportunity for advancement within your current organization will arise or when you’ll get that dreaded pink slip. It’s at these moments when an up-to-date résumé comes in really handy.

While you’re updating your information on your résumé, why not take some time to make some small changes that can really make it pop?

Get rid of the Microsoft Word Templates. Part of making a résumé pop is having a unique layout. It’s hard to be unique if you use the same template that every other candidate is using. There are plenty of great résumé templates out there. Take the ones you like and mesh them together to make your own unique layout.

Use bullets, bold, and italics effectively. You want to make your résumé as scannable as possible. Use formatting to assist in this.

Give figures and be specific. In your past job descriptions or volunteer section, give specific figures of what you accomplished while holding that position. For example, I used to train third party verifiers for gas and electric companies. Instead of just putting “trainer”, I put “Trained 15 new employees on how to perform third party verifications.” If your only job experience are part time jobs during college, put down how many hours you worked during a week while going to school full time. This shows employers that you know how to multi task and manage your time.

Be confident. Your résumé is not the time to be modest. Your goal is to sell yourself to the interviewer. If you have a big accomplishment, make sure to include it. Be proud!

Read up on copywriting. Copywriting is the art of writing to sell. By studying copywriting you can learn which words are the most effective and powerful in getting your message across. A great place to start is Also, go by your library. There are tons of books on copywriting.

Don’t lie. This is a given, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who fudge their résumés. You can make yourself look good without having to be dishonest. Nothing can hurt your reputation more than lying on your résumé.

Check for grammar and spelling errors. Repeat. Then repeat again. Remember, your résumé is a reflection of you. If it’s full of typos, recruiters will automatically assume you do sloppy work. Take the time to edit your résumé again and again. Have your friends take a look at it as well for editing purposes.

Give your résumé a face lift. Head on over to LifeClever for some awesome tips on how to spruce up your résumé. They offer several design tips in order to make your resume easier on the eyes.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jason March 13, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Great points. Especially never lying, but some good ol’ fashion puffery never hurts either :)

Also, I’ve heard that it’s always best to start each bullet with action verbs.

Increased sales by x%
Managed a team of…
Implemented controls to…
Created a database for…
Implemented a ____ which increased conversions by 5%

You get the idea. Happy job hunting!

2 fathersez March 13, 2008 at 10:51 pm

My second daughter just came back home after her finals and we are having our father/daughter talks on her job hunting.

So this post is very timely for us. And thanks for the link to LifeClever.

3 Jacob Share March 31, 2008 at 3:12 am

One important point about being confident in your writing is knowing when is too much and when is too little.

The point of a resume is to get called for an interview. If your resume ‘hypes’ your candidacy, recruiters and HR will see through it. Instead concentrate on action verbs, skills and accomplishments that speak for themselves without hyperbole.

In terms of design, I just posted an article about beautiful resumes that is intended to inspire people updating theirs:

36 Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work

4 Martin Buckland May 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm

Good article and some great comments.

A Microsoft template is known in recruiting circles as a ‘Bill Gates’ resume, avoid at all cost!

Yes, its correct to always start the bullet with an action verb. One of the benefits of the English language is that it allows so many other words for one action verb. Try never to repeat an action word.

Here is some food for thought. Instead of the word increased, how about: boosted, propelled, catapulted, or elevated?

5 Richard June 3, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Also, try to find out who will likely be reading your resume for the screening process. It makes a big difference if it’s going to be scanned, read by HR first, or if it’s going to be read by the person hiring you.

If it’s going to be scanned, you want as high of a keyword count as possible while still making sense. The more keywords, the more likely the computer will say “Look at me!”.

If it’s by HR, you need to appear not only competent, but also like the type of person HR is going to want to deal with.

If it’s going to be the person hiring you, you can speak directly about the position and how you’ll make his job easier / improve his department.

No matter which one it is, your resume should always make sense when read, but if you know which group it’s going to, it should focus on the target audience.

6 sweetbruni November 21, 2008 at 4:23 pm

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7 Pete December 14, 2008 at 4:33 pm

I know this is old, and really my question is about the template redesign at the Lifeclever link…but they’ve disabled comments now!

I really like the design of that resume, and it really makes it shine. My question is about the formatting of the work experience – the place where they describe what they’ve done at their various jobs. The meat of that sections is just sort of sentences describing work accomplishments and duties. It seems sort of cluttered to me, but I don’t think just single line lists in these sections would look right, either. Does anyone else have any thoughts on that?

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