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From one R-Word (Resume) to another (Results!)

Resumes, virtual interviewing, social media, networking…so many moving parts to a job search that are challenging to get right even in the best of times. And allow us to state the obvious: Today’s hiring environment is less than ideal. Depending on your industry, it may be quite a bit more challenging than others. Now more than ever, Grey Search + Strategy wants to help you on your search for a new job opportunity. So we’re putting 60+ years of experience to work helping candidates position themselves to stand out, make better impressions and increase their chances for landing a fantastic fit. We take a lot of pride in seeing every person we interact with move forward in their career, so we’re here throwing some helpful resume tips and thoughts your way to get you where you want to be.

Today’s post is all about the “R-word”—The Resume. (We see you cringing over there!) Let’s be honest: Right now, hiring managers are seeing stacks of resumes for every job they post. But breathe easier…your light at the end of the tunnel is found in this fact:

Most resumes are pretty crappy.

Hope is found for those that are willing to put some extra time in and get the resume right. It’s not rocket science, but it does require more work than just dusting off the recycled resume you’ve been using since 2005—and we’re providing some tips for upping your resume game. Read on…

Content is King

As we said, hiring managers are buried under a pile of paper every time they post a job. Your job is to follow some basic tips to help your resume rise from the rubble:

  • Before you just jump in and start typing, take time to consider what you want in your next role, and target those jobs accordingly. With your goals in mind, you’ll be better able to tailor your resume to the company’s need and call-out specific ways your skills and experience match up with them. This might include a specific section on accomplishments in that area, or attributes you’ve demonstrated that line up with a hiring company’s culture.
  • Splleing….Spilling…I mean, Spelling! It may seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how often we see resumes with spelling and grammatical errors. Before you even think about sending out a resume, don’t just run spell-check. Have someone read the resume from top to bottom. Spell-check doesn’t catch errors like mixing up from vs. form, or its vs it’s. First impression is EVERYTHING, and these types of misses are a one-way ticket to the bottom of the pile.
  • A good resume helps tell your story. It should do more than list your responsibilities, education and contact info. It should start to paint a picture of the type of employee you might be…maybe even give sneak-peek into your personality. And when you factor in a tool like your LinkedIn “About” section—you start to put pieces together that help you stand out. (More on using social media in a future post)
  • Make contacting you as easy as possible. Put your name, address, phone number, email address and a link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one.) at the top of each page. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, make one! (More on social media down the road, as well)
  • Many companies use automated hiring/tracking systems, so you want to make sure you are optimizing your resume with the keywords the system is looking for. Identify industry- and job-specific key words, add them to your profile section, and weave them throughout your resume where it’s appropriate.
  • As much as we hope hiring managers are reading our resumes top-to-bottom, many are skimming them, at least at first. Make sure you make their job easy by not using lengthy, wordy paragraphs full of overused language. Consider leading off each job with a brief overview sentence or two about the role and the value you provided, and follow it with 3-5 strong bullet points highlighting key responsibilities or accomplishments that show results (e.g. how much money you saved a company, how many people you managed, projects you led, how much you reduced scrap, etc.). Quantifiable metrics jump off the page and go a long way toward showing you can make things happen for your employer.
  • Show resilience – No job is all rainbows and butterflies. Company’s like to know what challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome those obstacles. Be your own cheerleader and highlight the outcome/successes.

Design DOs and DON’Ts

Content is indeed king. But if your amazing experience and accomplishments are hidden behind a distracting, inconsistent, cluttered or unprofessional layout, you’ve only done half the job (and that’s not enough these days). So we’re giving you some design best practices for improving your first impression and optimizing your document for human and automated readers:

  • Embrace the space. You may think that the more space you fill with how awesome you are, the better your chances. But a page chock-full of text does not read well, and creates “visual chaos.” Use appropriate line and paragraph spacing, and let the value of white space drive you to tighten up your content and remove unnecessary words or clutter.
  • Select a system-safe font to ensure compatibility with upload sites, as well as the viewer’s computer. We recommend a contemporary sans-serif font such Calibri or Helvetica for optimal cleanliness and, but more conservative industries may call for a good serif font such as Georgia or Times New Roman. Whichever road you choose, keep it to a single font (again, minimizing distraction).
  • Keep your styles in check. Mixing bold, italic, underline, all-caps, etc. overwhelms the eye and is not pleasing to the reader—especially when the reader is a hiring manager staring at resumes all day. We’re going for cleanliness, simplicity and professionalism here.
  • Unless you are in the creative industry, a resume isn’t the place to show off your creativity. A clean, consistent and well-laid out design allows your content to be the hero…just as it
    should be.

We wouldn’t give you all these great tips without offering to help you down the path! So Grey Search + Strategy has created two FREE RESUME TEMPLATES to help you put these practices to use. Grab the files here:

1-Column Resume Template (.docx)

2-Column Resume Template (.docx)

Last but not least, Grey Search + Strategy is offering you a FREE 15-MINUTE RESUME REVIEW. Contact us today to set up a time to go through your resume and answer your burning questions. We’re all working hard to make great connections between candidates and companies, and we’re all better together. Let’s connect soon!


Grey Search + Strategy is a strategic search and consulting firm built on a singular idea for delivering better recruiting results: Look beyond the black and white of resumes and references and you’ll find greatness in the grey. With 60+ years of combined experience in search strategy, recruiting and team-building, we’ve built a breakthrough brand on offering more strategic, long-term focused solutions to matching talent with opportunities. We are driven by a passion for understanding unique challenges, discovering unique talent, and bringing the two together for extraordinary results.

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