It is hard to believe, but 2017 is right around the corner! If a new position, career change or professional advancement is in your future, make sure you take the steps necessary to realize your goals. A new or updated resume is a great place to begin!

Turbocharge Your Professional or Executive Summary

From a reviewer’s prospective, few design elements will get you noticed faster than starting your resume with an attention-grabbing, articulate, and creative professional/executive summary. Conversely, it does not matter how good the rest of the resume looks if your intro is uninspired or merely average. You have approximately 6 seconds to grab the reviewer’s attention, make the most of it!

·        Pro Tip 1: Start off with a distinctive headline. A powerful phrase or statement can be a great way to generate interest.

·        Pro Tip 2: Incorporate desired job title(s) into your headline. Frame yourself in the way you want to be seen and indicate position types for which you want to be considered.

·        Pro Tip 3: Make an impact (statement). Define your candidacy by setting yourself apart from the get-go.

·        Pro Tip 4: Put your money where your mouth is. Do not just list skills, but rather list value statements and then support them with facts from your employment background. Elaborate on them further in the resume’s experience section when needed.

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Tame the Automated Beast (Applicant Tracking Systems – ATS)

More and more employers are using ATS systems with every year that goes by. While the algorithms used by ATS developers and providers become more sophisticated with each upgrade, these automated candidate screeners still pass over thousands of qualified applicants every day. Avoid rejection by optimizing your resume!

·        Pro Tip 5: Build an online use resume. You will only use this version of your resume when applying through ATS systems, but this allows you to carefully control how the software sees you and helps to ensure that you are selected for review by a flesh-and-blood recruitment representative.

·        Pro Tip 6: Be careful to avoid resume flourishes which confuse ATS systems. Pictures, graphics, text boxes, and even more basic formatting choices like column layouts can send your resume to a virtual trash bin, never to be seen again.

·        Pro Tip 7: Use standard section headings. While word choice creativity is great for a resume which is read by a human, forgo fancy language for your online use version. For example: use “Employment Experience” in the place of “Career Progression” on your ATS compliant resume.

·        Pro Tip 8: Optimize your content by carefully selecting the keywords you incorporate into your document. Perform the research required to determine exactly what employers in your targeted industry are looking for, and write using language that they will understand easily.

·        Pro Tip 9: Formatted headers and footers can confound older ATS systems. Include your name and contact information as part of the main document.

·        Pro Tip 10: Beware of active hyperlinks. Make sure to turn off (or remove) the active hyperlink (the content which turns blue) when you type your email address or LinkedIn URL. Some older systems have trouble reading active links.

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Avoid Distractions!

A picture may be worth a thousand words in some settings, but they are generally a distracting waste-of-space on a resume. Unless you are in a creative or artistic field, save the pictures and graphics for your LinkedIn profile or other professional sites.

·        Pro Tip 11: Leave off unnecessary frills such as company logos, personal pictures, and pointless charts. An exception to this rule may include using infographics if they add significant value and are acceptable given the position for which you are applying.

·        Pro Tip 12: Use easy-to-read font types. Certain fonts (even traditional ones) are not the best for screen reading. For more info on good and bad font choices, take a look at Why Your Resume Font Is Killing Its Vibe by executive resume writer Wendi Weiner, JD.

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Dazzle with Simplicity and Elegance

In terms of appearance, there is a big difference between a boring resume and one that is laid out in a logical yet stylish fashion.

·        Pro Tip 13: Combine form with function. A high-performance resume should be instantly striking, yet easy to read on a computer screen or mobile device.

·        Pro Tip 14: Design a masthead (header) that stands out while simultaneously conserving space. For more info and masthead design tips, take a look at Michelle Robin’s article, 10 Ways to Not Write a Boring Resume.

·        Pro Tip 15: Use white space (or negative space) in a manner that allows the reader’s eye to effortlessly transition from one line to another. Strategically spacing your content will allow information to jump off the page more readily.

·        Pro Tip 16: Add a dash of color. Using color as a tactic to draw attention to sections or distinguish between blocks of content can be very useful, especially if your audience is viewing your resume on a screen.

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Coordinate Your Materials

Developing complimentary documents (cover letters, resumes, professional networking profiles, etc.) is important to a well-polished and professional-looking application package.

·        Pro Tip 17: Make sure your Resume and LinkedIn profile work hand-in-hand with one another. An updated and optimized resume, when used in conjunction with professional networ

Adam Zajac, NCRW is Head Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer and Executive Recruitment Strategist for Vocamotive, Inc. He is 1 of only 54 Nationally Certified Résumé Writers in North America and is an expert career development professional with over 11 years of industry experience. As a proud member of the National Résumé Writers’ Association and leader of the career development team at Vocamotive, he has successfully assisted thousands of job seekers, career changers, and business executives achieve their professional goals throughout the United States.