If you are a recent or soon-to-be graduate looking for your first job, getting your job search on the right track can seem like a difficult task. Therefore, it’s important to depict yourself in the most professional manner to prospective employers as early as possible. In the professional realm, your resume is your first opportunity to grab the attention of a hiring manager, and how effectively you highlight your skills and accomplishments can make the difference between an employer looking past your application or inviting you in for an interview.
Allison Shulman, a Staffing Manager for The Execu|Search Group’s Creative & Digital division, understands just how important it is to have an effective job search plan in place, as she guides a wide range of entry-level candidates through the process. “While there are a variety of roles you can pursue in the creative and digital industry, it’s important to familiarize yourself with resume strategies you can use to tailor your resume to the type of company and/or position you’re interested in,” says Allison. “Learning how to communicate your goals to potential employers through your resume may increase your chances of standing out against competition throughout the hiring process.”
1. Highlight relevant experience and skills
Throughout your job search, it’s important that your resume appeals to your overall strengths in addition to aligning with the job responsibilities you may have in your prospective role. “Employers are most interested in the skills that will add value to the position you are applying for,” highlights Allison. “For example, while you might have gained experience working as a waiter/waitress at your local restaurant, these skills may not help you be an effective graphic designer. As a result, a great way to highlight your knowledge in a space you have little experience in would be to emphasize certain classes and/or internships that align with the position you’re interested in.”
To further emphasize the skills you’ve gained from relevant jobs, internships, etc., you should compile a portfolio or design a website to show potential employers concrete examples of your work. “These examples are a great way to demonstrate your creativity and add a visual element to your professional profile that complements your resume,” says Allison. “However, while it’s important to be able to highlight concrete examples of your work, employers will also be very focused on the technical programs you have experience using.” For instance, if you are applying for a web designer role, in addition to directing employers to your website on your resume, list the specific creative tools you used in the process (e.g., Photoshop, Acrobat, InDesign, HTML, WordPress, etc.). The more specific you are when outlining your skills, the easier it may be for a hiring manager to see you are the best fit for the position.
2. Tailor resume design and format length
Keep in mind that while it can be easy to give in-depth details about the responsibilities you’ve held in the past, try to keep your resume under one page in length. Until you’ve established yourself as a professional in a certain specialty area, a one-page resume will give a hiring manager the quickest snapshot of your professional profile in an easy-to-read format. And while a streamlined format is important, tailoring the overall design of your resume to the role/company you are interested in is also a good way to stand out to hiring managers. “If you are interested in a copy writer position at a conservative financial firm, for example, a ‘clean-cut’ standard functional resume design may be the safest way to highlight your professional strengths. On the other hand, if you are interested in a web designer role with a younger, more progressive startup, a more visually creative resume design may help you stand out more against your competition,” recommends Allison.
3. Include social media links
Finally, while an impressive resume can get you in the door with your next employer, creative professionals should understand how important it is to have a strong professional online presence in such a digital age. Providing links to certain social media pages that highlight your professional interests may be a good way to depict yourself as a well-informed and unique professional that understands how to effectively use these platforms to connect with professionals.
Keep in mind that an increasing number of companies are utilizing social media websites like LinkedIn and Facebook to weed out unprofessional candidates throughout the screening and interview stages. Therefore, if you include links to your social media page(s) on your resume, they should honestly depict the type of professional you want to be perceived as. Since an unprofessional social media presence has the potential to negatively taint your professional reputation, pay closer attention to the types of information (e.g., pictures, status updates, tweets, etc.) you share publicly.
Taking the time to implement these small steps into your job search may not only improve your odds of landing an interview, but it may also demonstrate your level of professionalism to prospective employers as you move forward.