Despite the “aahs” and “oohs” you might get from friends or family (or yourself), actual employers are not impressed with “splash” resumes—those that use over-the-top graphics and/or layouts so as to distinguish your application from the hundreds of others sent to a job posting.
Most employers simply don’t have the time or mental wherewithal to be entertained thus, so while the thinking behind such an approach may reflect that of being “out of the box,” their destination is usually “into the waste paper basket”.
One truly professional way to stand out is to use footnotes and/or text links—sparingly, of course—so as to provide your reader with additional details that can help him or her better understand the nature of your accomplishments…which is what your resume should really be focused on.
For example, instead of using wordy paragraphs or bullets in the main area of your resume to confer hefty descriptions, use footnotes at the bottom of the page; this way your reader is not distracted with information that, while interesting and relevant, is not quite pertinent enough to share at the highest level (i.e., the first reading of) your document.
More specifically, footnotes might be used to communicate:
- Promotions, particularly when one has received several over a short period of time (e.g., “Promoted from Analyst Level II to Analyst Level III in 2011”)
- Company descriptions (e.g., “Acme, Inc. is a multinational corporation headquartered in Wayne, NJ that offers data storage, information security, analytics, cloud computing and other products and services that help businesses to store, manage and protect data.”)
- Definitions of technical terms (e.g., “A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump used to support heart function and blood flow.”)
The obvious uses for links are to take your reader to your LinkedIn Profile or your website or online portfolio; but you can also use links to guide your reader to a different place within your resume, where you might have an extended list of publications, lectures or software skills.
By using footnotes and text links, you reward yourself several benefits that help you to stand out in a good way:
- It helps you to offer your reader additional details in a way that keeps your resume clean and easy to navigate.
- It demonstrates somewhat advanced knowledge of MS Word, as well as organizational and communication skills.
- It shows that you understand how to assemble a professionally written document.
True, footnotes and text links are not as sexy as animations or laying out your text in the shape of a robin’s beak, but—more than likely—it will provide better odds of landing the interview you seek.