Just as clothes and music are a form of expression, your resume is a snapshot of who you are as a professional and should exemplify your skills, successes, and work experiences in an accurate way. Because your resume acts as a written representation of you as an employee, you want to ensure you’re differentiating yourself in a manner that’ll capture a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention and convince them to extend you an invitation to interview.
But how do you write a resume that has character? Sure, it’s a lifeless piece of paper, but there are still ways you can inject personality into the document and make your skill sets really pop to life.
Before you even put a pen to paper (I mean, your fingers to the keyboard), you need to hit the internet and conduct a little research. First, review the job posting, keeping a copy handy while you’re building your resume, so you can reference specific criteria the employer outlines. From there, you want to insert yourself into a game of Clue, but instead of solving a murder (sorry Colonel Mustard and your candlestick), you’re hunting down all the information you can find about the company you’re applying for.
From their website to their social media pages to any new and relevant news stories, conducting a bit of research will give you valuable insight into the company’s culture, products/services, challenges, and needs. Getting the inside scoop on these details will help you tailor your resume in a way that uses your unique voice to address the areas that the company places importance in.
What’s Your Story?
In order to properly showcase your personality on paper, you need to reflect on the type of message you wish to covey. Just like a company, you are your own personal brand, meaning you should use vocabulary, designs, and other features that are representative of your personality and professional value. For example, a Registered Nurse wouldn’t use the same expressions or formatting as a Web Designer. Whatever your story or message may be, you want to always keep it consistent, making sure your presence on your resume, social networking sites, and personal website (if applicable) is cohesive.
Explore Culture-Related Details
Cultural fit is one of the main factors an employer measures when determining if you’re a match for their company. While you’re doing your research, take a peek at how the company brands itself, checking out what they choose to Tweet out to the Twittersphere or share on Facebook – it’ll provide insight on what they value, how they speak, and how engaged their employees are. Sites like Glassdoor can also give you an inside look at what the company’s current and former employees are saying about life within the organization.
Your application will be viewed in a positive light when you incorporate these cultural elements into your resume, as you’ll present yourself in a way that aligns with the organization as a whole. You can also look up Human Resources and executive-level staff on LinkedIn to get a good idea of the types of individuals who will be reviewing your resume.
Ready to Roll
Now you’re prepared to craft a killer resume. Putting yourself in the mindset of the hiring manager, write each section in a way that continually builds upon the potential value you could bring to the organization. Always include a link to your LinkedIn, digital portfolio, or personal website (if you have) along with your contact/personal details at the top of the page.
When listing your prior experience, rather than just listing your responsibilities, you want to showcase your accomplishments. Companies want to see measurable and impactful achievements. For example, instead of saying you improved ticket sales, you can say you increased ticket sales by 27% over a 12 month period. Or, instead of stating you implemented new warehouse processes, you can say you developed and introduced new warehouse procedures that reduced order production time by 10 minutes. By communicating your experience in this way, you’ll be able to highlight your soft skills (i.e. problem solving, teamwork, leadership, etc) and demonstrate where your strengths lie.
The experience you choose to outline should parallel what’s included in the job description. You want the hiring manager reviewing your resume to be able to clearly visualize how your past successes could meet and exceed the requirements and expectations for this position. Employers can smell a standard, non-customized resume from a mile away – it’s plain, lacks creativity, and doesn’t focus on the specific needs of their open role.
Talk About Your Professional Interests
Loading your resume up with important keywords to illustrate your skills, experience, and knowledge is only one slice of the pie. Sure, you need to depict why you’d be able to satisfy the requirements of the role; but sharing your passions with a hiring manager can also reflect positively on you as an applicant. Employee engagement and hiring staff members who feel a sense of motivation each day is something employers are scrambling to find.
So, what does that mean for you? Weave your professional passions and the deeper elements that fuel your desire to wake up and go to work day in and day out into your resume. Whether it’s philanthropic opportunities, the adrenaline rush you feel helping a startup grow, or a love for guiding people towards a healthy lifestyle, you can forge a connection between the key achievements you list under each role and why those accomplishments are meaningful to you.
List Relatable or Noteworthy Hobbies
Employers want to hire employees that are well-rounded, value self-care, and are actively engaged in extracurricular activities. In fact, Deloitte’s Volunteer Impact Researchers revealed that hiring managers consider volunteer experience highly desirable, and it’s an element they look for in a resume, noting that volunteering builds strong leadership skills.
I suggest listing this information briefly at the bottom of your resume, keeping it professional and relevant (For example, unless you are applying for a gaming position, you can leave off that you’re a Halo fanatic). Take a look at the LinkedIn pages of the recruiters or hiring manager working for your potential employer. Are there hobbies, groups, or interests you share? If so, this is a good opportunity to put those similarities on display.
When it comes to allowing your personality to shine through your resume, it’s important to express yourself in a way that not only communicates your relevant experiences and interests, but also shows you’re adaptable, flexible, and multi-faceted.