31 Jul 10 Tips to Make Your Professional Profile Stand Out!
This post, adapted from various articles published by themuse, presents some handy tips on updating your professional profile (CV, Bio or Résumé) and making it stand out.
Considering that your profile will potentially land amongst a pile of many others, sometimes hundreds, Abby Wolfe suggests five simple changes to increase the chances of a hiring manager taking notice of your CV – and The Muse Editor has a few related and additional pointers, summarised below.
We would like to add a caveat to the advice – it’s appropriate when applying directly to companies, but when choosing an agent to represent you with your career, some of this would not apply.
Add some Colour
A little bit of colour – not to distract but to highlight sections – will help your CV stand out as well as making it more interesting to the eye and easier to navigate.
Abby’s ‘go-to’ is to simply add some colour to the background of each section’s header.
Avoid Overused Fonts
Times New Roman is a go-to – but has become the blend-in font…
Janie Kliever, owner of Design Artistree Creative Studio, put together the best and worst fonts for a resume; A few that topped the best fonts list? Garamond, Gill Sans, Cambria, Calibri, Helvetica, and Georgia.
Get Rid of the Clutter
Enhance readability – Don’t use tiny (e.g. 8pt) font; Increase line spacing (recommended: 120% of font size); Decrease margins (as needed to reduce pages and to avoid ‘widows‘ and ‘orphans‘); and Use dividers / highlights (e.g. bold/colour) to separate sections
Make your CV “skimmable” and understandable (it may be first seen by an assistant, before progressing to a hiring manager or executive, so should be “readable, relevant, and interesting to all of them.”)
– Limit your words – choose details that are most essential for the job and/or career that you are pursuing
– Aim for no more than seven bullet points per role
– Remove “References Available on Request” (if they want them, they’ll ask for them)
– Exclude high school-related and dated (e.g. beyond 15 years) information, unless highly relevant or required to bulk up your CV (caveat applies – i.e. Agencies want this information)
– Include your top achievements, major skills, and important experiences
– Keep it simple – unless you’re targeting a creative/designer job/career
– If you are willing to travel, remove your home address as some hiring managers may discount you on the basis of commuting time (caveat applies)
Use Active Words
Choose your words – and ‘swap out several boring verbs for more powerful (and interesting) ones’ – use action verbs and relate these back to the description of the job and/or career path that you have selected.
– Avoid repeated and over-used adjectives (e.g. experienced) – choose words that highlight your unique strengths
“Pick a few statements to take one step further, and add in what the benefit was to your boss or your company… (to) clearly communicate not only what you’re capable of, but also the direct benefit the employer will receive by hiring you.” (The Muse Editor)
– Brand yourself – Use the same header on your CV and cover letter to make your “personal brand” look really put together
Arrange your Experience Differently
Re-arrange the format of your CV and present a skills-based profile of yourself.
– Add any new skills you’ve gained, and remove those skills that are too dated to be relevant (caveat applies)
– Ensure that all of your experience (roles, awards, skills etc) is updated
– Break up your skills into sections (where needed)
– List multiple jobs / promotions within the same organisation correctly
Check your spelling, grammar and formatting
Run Spell and Grammar Checks – appropriate to your target country (i.e. US vs UK/SA English).
– Check for consistent formatting (e.g. matching headers, indents, bullet points, fonts, spacing etc.)
– Check out the ‘top’ (look at the top third of your PDF) to ensure that it makes an impression / ‘serves as a hook’ to keep the hiring manager interested
Acronyms – Write out the full name of the title, certification, or organisation with the acronym (at least the first time) to ensure that the reader knows what you’re talking about – and so that an applicant tracking system will pick it up regardless.
Save (and send) it correctly
Save your profile as a PDF, which ensures that formatting remains ‘as-is’ when it’s opened on a different computer.
Name the file correctly – reflect your name (Full Name), the date (e.g. July 2018), and the content (e.g. CV/Cover Letter/Letter of Introduction).
Enable links to your (professional) online profile
Chances are, if a hiring manager is interested in your CV, they will look at your social media presence (Read The Growing Importance of your Online Image).
– “In its place, add a link to your LinkedIn profile, as well as any other relevant social media handles (Twitter if it’s professional, Instagram or Flickr if you’re applying to social media or creative positions). Caveat: Never include Facebook, no matter how clean you keep it.” (The Muse Editor)
– Since your CV is most likely going to be read on a computer, make your hyperlinks (e.g. email address, online profiles) live / “clickable”
Also, make sure that your online profiles are up-to-date.
Fill in ‘Gaps’
Account for ‘gaps‘ in your CV – be honest and be prepared.
Include unpaid / volunteer / part-time / freelance activities, where appropriate or needed (i.e. to bulk up your CV).
Final checks… then “Get That Baby Out There”!
– Read your CV/profile out loud (which will help identify any problems with spelling, grammar and flow)
– You could ask for a second opinion (from a friend / trusted colleague)
– Then.. Go after the Opportunity that you’ve identified!