The internet provides plenty of ‘tips’ and ‘tricks’ that can allegedly treat all your résumé headaches. In reality, there is no magic pill to make a résumé shine with the flick of a switch, and you should take care to avoid anyone who makes such outrageous claims. A corporate job opening receives, on average, 250 applications; recruiters and hiring managers are especially well-practiced at spotting any clever tricks applicants may use to get shortlisted.
If you’re planning to include one or more of the following cheat codes in your résumé, then you may want to reconsider.
1. Graphical Diversions
Although an eye-catching or non-obtrusive template can certainly attract greater attention and help set your résumé apart, sound judgement should be employed when it comes to the inclusion of graphics or other types of visual art. If you’re applying for a position in the graphics or creative arts industries, then loud colors and charts and portfolios would make perfect sense; if you’re involved in any other industry, then indulge in the art of understatedness.
Another thing to avoid is including your picture in a résumé. While this was a popular practice a few decades ago, it went out of vogue as soon as it was found to encourage all types of discrimination during the recruitment process.
2. Keyword Stuffing
There are a few advantages to stuffing a résumé with job or skill set-specific keywords: The odds of your profile making it past an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) rise significantly; ensures that job board search algorithms automatically match your profile to relevant jobs; and helps a busy hiring manager understand with a glance whether you’re suited for an open position.
But there are disadvantages to keyword stuffing or creating a separate section for it in a résumé, too. The practice is extremely popular among candidates who’re trying to make up for the fact that their work history is threadbare at best; recruiters are far too practiced and clever to fall for such a trick. Ultimately, all the keywords and skills listed in your résumé will amount to nothing if you don’t have the necessary work experience to lend weight to them.
3. Number of Pages
Whether it is fresh-faced recruits or mid-level professionals, the length of a résumé gives them all sleepless nights. Although giving a detailed description of everything you did during your career might sound like a good thing to include, it is also a common mistake to assume that the length of a résumé is directly proportional to the ability of the candidate. If you have 8 years of professional experience, a hiring manager simply wouldn’t find the minute details of your very first job to be relevant anymore.
While the (unspoken) standard length of a résumé is two pages, it can vary a bit depending on where your career is at right now. To sum it up, a brief résumé — which contains only carefully chosen details about your experience — will not only hold a recruiter’s attention for a longer period of time, but also indicate your awareness of those past accomplishments which have a significant bearing on the job you’re trying to land.