Give your résumé a little punch up – it may make all the difference

By Debra Wheatman

On November 19, 2009

In Resume Help

About resume



What are some of the things you are doing to stand out from the crowd? We all know that as technology continues to evolve and there are more and improved ways to communicate, getting your résumé noticed by hiring managers, recruiters and members of the HR community can be difficult. There are human capital management systems like Taleo that abstract the players names and contact info and anonymous job postings that are, well, anonymous; and it can be next to impossible to get the name of someone. I say next to impossible because nothing is impossible! It just depends on how much time and effort you want to expend. Regardless, in the world of career search, you want to stick out like a sore thumb – but only in the most professional and positive way, of course. This brings me to my point, finally. What are some things you can do to make sure you grab the reader’s attention aside from the obvious results dominated statements?

Your résumé through rose colored glasses: Depending on the industry you are working in and the position you hold, adding some color in a tasteful way can make your résumé shine. If you work in marketing, PR, or another related or similar field, adding this dash of flair can illustrate a bit of creativity on your part and will allow you to stand out from the other candidates in the pile. You might consider changing the color of the major headings to a deep maroon or something dark grey. Don’t go too crazy; you simply want to spice up the résumé a bit while keeping a professional and tactful appeal.


Picture This: Have you considered adding a picture to your résumé? I am not talking about a picture of yourself. I am talking about stock photo of some sort. A nice visual can set a very appealing tone for the résumé and make you stand out from the crowd. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words – especially where your résumé is concerned, a well placed image can be priceless.

Certainly, discretion is the better part of the job search – before you take any of these onto the playing field you need to make sure you –

  1. Consider the industry and the job – a big ole picture won’t fly if you are applying to be a bond trader on Wall Street.
  2. Don’t go overboard – seven colors and 14 pieces of clip art is probably too much even if you are looking for a job in media.
  3. Have some independent eyes take a look – in fact I would be willing to take a quick look for you, loyal readers – send it our way and we will happy to let you know what we at ResumesDoneWrite think.

Comments and feedback are requested and desired; and you are welcome and encouraged to submit questions to thecareerdoctor.


Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is the founder and Chief Career Strategist of ResumesDoneWrite, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.

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One thought on “Give your résumé a little punch up – it may make all the difference”

  • Heather Goodwin  says:
    December 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Many of the CVs (resumes) I work on include elements of 'design' that have been added by non-designers.

    It's very easy to get colour wrong unless you have a really good eye. Even the sober grey box illustrated above needs to be handled with care – it will look amateur if it is not spaced and centred properly.

    Avoid italics, which (having spent many years in collateral production including consumer research) is often passed over. Unless they are in running copy, italics are often skimmed over as unimportant.

    Also avoid more than two fonts – one for headings (sans serif) and one for the copy that goes underneath (with serif). Left-justify your copy. All of this is standard editorial practice that is just as valid on a CV (resume) as it is in any other published document.

    If you want to make your CV stand out, focus on things the reader will really remember. State clearly in your profile what you are looking for. Make sure there's a strong key skills section. Optimise your personal information so that you convey (without doing anything too ditzy) what it's like to work with you.

    Aim to become the 'remembered' candidate in the pile – the one who… (add in the thing that makes you memorable).

    Heather Goodwin

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