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How to design a show-stopping resume

If you dread updating your resume, you’re not alone. Over 30 percent of people surveyed* consider writing or updating their resume their least favorite part of the job search. Our career expert sponsor Maxie McCoy joined us to share top tips and tools for creating a resume that expertly combines your professional know-how with the design flair that will get you noticed.

Nail your cover letter

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A stellar resume starts with a strong cover letter. The key? Showing how your talent and experience will solve a problem or drive results for your future employer. For example, if you say you’re collaborative, discuss how you used that skill at your last internship, and then connect it to what you aim to accomplish for the new company. Never underestimate your worth; Maxie tells us, “Even if you’re new to the industry, it’s all in the language you use to describe what you’ve done. If you speak to the value you provided rather than the expertise you have, you’ll navigate this nicely.”

Know your audience

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If you’re going for an accounting job at a big firm, keep it simple and classy, not flashy. For an ad agency position, take a creative plunge with design and format. Speaking the company’s language is important too. Look at the company website and job postings, speak with current employees and mirror that tone and voice in your resume.“ If you’re unsure of who will be looking at your resume,” Maxie says, “it’s best to err on the side of simplicity and elegance.”

Write a resume you would read

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Remember, recruiters are human—and they can see right through the fluff. Avoid sounding stuffy or using resume jargon like “team player” or “hard worker.” Make summaries short and your experience descriptions results-driven and to the point.

Name drop

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“Name and company dropping in your resume is often a good thing; it gives your interviewer a frame of reference,” says Maxie. Who have you worked with, assisted, learned from? Think partnerships, clients, projects, etc. It all helps.

Show your value with data

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According to Maxie, “Candidates often don’t show enough with numbers, statistics and quantitative descriptions of their work.” So use data and specifics to make your past responsibilities and projects more tangible for the recruiter. For example, rather than saying you managed the university newspaper, explain that you led an editorial staff of 20 at the university newspaper, which reaches a student body of over 350,000.

Do something, anything, to stand out

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“Employers are looking for wildly passionate people. And passionate people do crazy things, like go the extra mile,” says Maxie. A professional resume is important, but in today’s job market, it’s often not enough on its own. Supplement your resume with a digital portfolio; pen a blog post about your passion for the industry, trends you’re seeing or a past project you’ve learned from. Or, create a brief video that shows off your communication skills and passion for the company you’re applying for. “Whatever you’re doing must come full circle and point other directions, telling a clear story of yourself,” Maxie notes. “People need to be able to show who they are online as much as in person.”

Use the right tools

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Writing your resume, creating a portfolio or writing a blog post is tough enough, but formatting or coding it can be even harder. Maxie’s recommendation? “Don’t reinvent the wheel—use templates and tools that make it easy.”

To help, we’ve tapped the design expertise of digital print and design company MOO to create all-new resume and cover letter templates in Microsoft Word.** One in four people we surveyed think having a “plain resume” could hinder their job search, and we think these customizable templates will strike just the right balance to get noticed.

We also created online resume, portfolio and blog post templates in our digital storytelling app, Sway. The free app makes it easy to create a digital representation of your work even if you don’t have professional design or coding skills. Once you’re finished, you can easily share it with a link. Pro tip: Sway has high-resolution images from sources like PickIt, Flicker and Bing right within the app. Just click the Insert tab to start browsing.

Download a cheat sheet with these tips here.

To check out our new templates and to find more career advice and inspiration from Maxie, head to office.com/dreamjob. Tweet us @Office with the hashtag, #dreamjob. We’d love to hear what you think. Happy resume building!

*Online survey conducted by Ipsos. General population sample of college and post-grad-aged males and females, 18-25 years old. June 2016.
**Word templates optimized for Office 2013 or later.

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