Resume Strategies

Creating the Perfect Résumé

A great résumé is one of the most important tools you’ll use as you work toward your career goals. Not only does a résumé convey information about your accomplishments, it can convey aspects of your personality, your style, and your capacity for creative thinking.

Here are my top five rules for résumés:

1.       “B” Clear:  Many of you are familiar with my BRIDGE process. “B” stands for Becoming clear about your direction. If you’re not clear where your career is going, your résumé will show it. Have your goals firmly in mind before you start writing.  To learn more about my BRIDGE course visit

2.       Go for the bull’s eye: A good résumé should be targeted—not just to the general field you’re interested in, but to each specific job position, and even each potential employer. For example, if you’re interested in both graphic designer and art director positions, you will need two separate résumés: one to focus on your visual art skills and experience, and the other to focus on your directorial skills and project management experience. That doesn’t mean that the two résumés can’t overlap, but their individual focuses should be clear.

3.       Know when to bold: I’ve seen résumés where literally every other line was in dark, bold typeface. This is a big mistake. Too much bolding on a page makes everything hard to read. Use bold type (or if you’re using two fonts, your header typeface) only when it’s truly necessary. 

4.        Avoid font overkill: Your résumé’s layout should be unique and eye-catching, but you can easily go overboard with flowery, hard-to-read fonts and bright colors. Remember that, first and foremost, your résumé needs to be legible. If a prospective employer can’t read it, they won’t read it. Examples of good résumé fonts include Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and Garamond.

5.       Use snail mail: I know it seems like a relic from the Dark Ages, but the postal service is still a great way to send your résumé (unless your prospective employer has specifically requested that résumés be submitted electronically).  Sending a paper copy eliminates any hassles with file conversion and formatting, and ensures that your résumé will look exactly the way you intended it to when it lands on your new boss’s desk. If you are required to submit electronically, make sure to find out what file format the company prefers.  On a side note: most recruiters prefer Word documents, so they can edit if necessary.

You can use the tips above to perfect your résumé no matter what field you’re in. When it comes to getting more creative, the rules are different for every profession—but a truly creative résumé can easily make you a star candidate. Here are some tips for creating a truly stellar résumé.

·         Make a video résumé: According to a recent article in Time Magazine, video résumés are the new tool for the YouTube generation. If you’re job-shopping in a field where personal appearance and mannerisms are vital (think sales, marketing, and advertising) video résumés can give potential employers a taste of your charisma. 

·         Set up an online portfolio: If you’re in a field where it’s necessary for you to showcase a portfolio, you need a website. Period. Paper copies of your work, no matter how pretty, don’t measure up to an online presence, and they’re much harder for prospective bosses to share with other company members.  If time or money constraints prevent you from setting up your own website, consider utilizing a free online gallery service like or  If you have other resources that have worked well for you, please let me know so I can share them!

·         Use testimonials and quotes: If your old boss wrote you a glowing letter of recommendation, excerpt it on your résumé. Same goes for client reviews and coworker evaluations. These can be included as sidebar items or can be spaced throughout the résumé. Just be sure to use them sparingly: you don’t want your résumé to read like an infomercial!

·         Use online tools: Twitter, LinkedIn, and other online networking tools can be a great way to get your name out there. If you have a website, ask your friends and networking contacts to link their sites to yours. The bigger your web presence, the better the chances that the right someone will notice you.

Remember that when it comes to crafting a great résumé, the finished product needs to express not only what you’ve accomplished but who you are as an individual. If prospective employers can see you on that piece of paper, they’re more likely to feel connected to you, and call you in for an interview.

If you need help formulating your creative résumé, give me a call: I’ve recently partnered with a local résumé service, and I’m happy to put you in touch.  Also, I can offer advice for targeting your résumé—in my former life as a recruiter, I reviewed thousands of résumés (some great, some awful), and I know what works.  Finally, if you have a creative resume you’re proud of, send me a copy—I’d love to see it!

As a certified professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader, Dawn helps sales, marketing, advertising and creative entrepreneurs to accelerate their career so they’ll love their life!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *