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Wow!  Your resume is pretty….weird.

Not quite the reaction most job seekers want to get from a hiring manager.  When it comes to resume formats, there is a thin line between creative and tacky.  Tons of articles are posted every day urging job seekers to stand out, be seen, or make an impact.  The course of action for accomplishing these things without earning yourself a gigantic “eek” from a hiring manager isn’t always cut and dry.

Job seekers should use attention-grabbing resume content to capture the hiring manager’s attention without compromising its relevancy to the desired job.  However, effectively illustrating a career story without focusing on task lists that lead hiring managers down the path to boredom can be tricky.

One of my biggest peeves is scanning through a resume that is nothing short of a copied and pasted job description.  Highlighting achievements, improvements, and measurable results are what hiring managers really want to read. Hiring managers will most likely overlook cookie-cutter objective statements, “references available upon request,” and weak bullets beginning with “responsible for.”

There can be times when creativity goes a little too far with excessive graphics, whimsical fonts, or over-the-top borders.  Using pops of flair sparingly can create just the right formula for a successful resume; however, job seekers who get a little out of hand with photos, quotes, neon colors, and the “will work for food” slogans often find themselves with far more rejection letters than job offers.

Here’s what works:

+ A beautifully designed online resume website.  Start with a free one-pager.

+ Use of graphics to show progress such as sales achievements, money saved, or customer satisfaction ratings versus proficiencies in standard Microsoft Office Suite products.

+ Video resumes (PR, graphic designers, programmers, etc).

+ Career documents truly used as personal branding materials such as folders, business cards, or project portfolios.

+ QR codes on business cards containing links to work samples or publications.

+ A compelling summary statement emphasizing your value and key attributes.

+ Incorporating company messaging or branding into your career documents shows you’ve done your homework.

Before a job seeker overdoses on fancy templates and abuses a Thesaurus, remember less is more.  Focus on the desired response and create a personal brand that showcases your specialties and overall fit for the company.  It’s crucial to show how your talent is the answer to the employer’s problem.  Be the pain reliever, not the ache!

Ashley Watkins, of Write Step Resumes, LLC, helps job seekers and career changers write their career dreams into reality one step at a time.  She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or via for resume help, interview prep, career tips and motivational quotes.


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Need A Job? Then Your Resume Has To Be On Point  was originally published on