When it comes to your resume, DIY may not be your best strategy.
It's never been easier to create your own resume. You've got word processing templates, examples on Pinterest and decent paper from the office supplies store.
Turn it into a PDF and you're good to go.
Maybe not, though.
A study from TopResume, a resume writing service, says using a pro gives job candidates a definite edge in the hunt — and it could mean more than the offer itself. According to TopResume, 150 recruiters assessed the professionally written resumes as deserving a bump in salary.
Hiring managers in November and December were shown sets of anonymous resumes: two self-written and one created by professional resume writers. They perceived candidates with the pro resumes as more polished and more capable —and estimated their salary worth as 7% more.
Recruiters then estimated the base salary for candidates, assuming figures in line with the New York City job market in 2018. The difference in estimations between high and low-rated candidates amounted to more than $25,000 in some cases.
A well-written, professional resume tells prospective employers that you take your candidacy seriously, and so should they, says Vicki Salemi, a career expert for the jobs site Monster.com.
Resume writing has some unspoken rules you can use to your advantage. Your resume is going to be read and assessed electronically. Remember, 75% of online applications are never reviewed by a human because they are filtered out, says Amanda Augustine, a certified professional resume writer and career coach at TopResume.
"Hiring managers often love to see that you've worked for a competitor," Salemi said. "It can be an immediate green light with the understanding that if you're good enough for that company, you're good enough for us."
Use these tips to get your resume to work harder for you, from someone who does this for a living.
Creating a winning resume is a mix of art and science. You need to curate the information that will appeal to a human reader but also get past a digital gatekeeper, Augustine says.
Optimize your resume with keywords using the specific language from the job description. Otherwise, the applicant tracking system won't realize you're a good fit. "They're better at weeding out the least qualified and not necessarily finding the best," Augustine said.
Hiring managers universally love seeing a clear story and visual balance, says Augustine. "If content is king, design is queen," Augustine said.
Avoid clutter. Be careful when with design elements. "A simpler design that has the right balance of white space [is critical]," Augustine said.
The reason: Someone is glancing quickly. You have 10 seconds or less to show them the most important information.
The average professional should have no more than two pages. But don't squeeze it down to eye-chart territory by shrinking the point size. "Around 10½ to 12 point type depending on the font is best," Augustine said.
She recommends standard fonts, sans serif for online resumes. If you send a hard copy, use a serif font.
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"Don't state you're a great leader or skilled in sales," Augustine said. "When you show the results of your work, you're automatically positioning yourself to make more money."
Instead of "managed a budget," rewrite and say you "managed a $1 million annual budget."
No specific numbers? Try to show how you were better, faster, more efficient. Perhaps you were picked to train new recruits or given the rush-hour shift at a restaurant. Other metrics can show that you are expert at your job.
Curate and edit your accomplishments. "Your resume should never be a laundry list of everything you've ever done or are capable of doing," Augustine said.
Each job entry should be a short blurb with a description of the role. Follow it up with bragging points: What you achieved, how you helped make things faster or bigger, or helped cut costs.
Ditch the objective statement, a dirty term in the resume-writing world. "We hate them because they are fluffy and filled with overused adjectives," Augustine said. Also, it's about what the writer wants, not the reader.
Include a title and an executive summary, three to five lines max. "It's your elevator pitch," Augustine said. "What you are great at, what you are passionate about, a summary of why you're qualified for the role."
It may sound like a cliche, but hiring managers love a compelling narrative. "Employers don't want to read a list of duties," Augustine said. "They want to package your career story with the job requirements in mind."
Show how your education and professional development prepared you for this role, and always focus on the specific job goal.
Put a snapshot of yourself at the top with highlights of who you are. Hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile under your name and contact info, and follow up with a professional summary.
Always lead back to the job description. "They want to know you read it," Augustine said, and everything should illustrate how your skills would mesh with the role.
Don't do an overhaul for each job you apply to. "You can only have one LinkedIn," Augustine said. You can't show three different versions of yourself.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.