An article in the Wall Street Journal, (full disclosure: I write for the WSJ’s Experts Blog) has gotten a lot of attention for how it describes the reaction of many employers to resumes that “are starting to look like Instagram – and sometimes even Tinder,” resumes that almost exclusively represent Gen Z candidates. These candidates include photos of themselves as well as bitmojis in how they format their resumes as ways to differentiate themselves from other candidates.
Differentiation is critical, for sure, but are photos and cute designs the way to rise above the competition?
In a word, “no.”
While there’s nothing wrong with a judicious use of color or a pleasing font, photos and bitmojis are really bad ideas; photos for legal reasons and bitmojis for how they may be interpreted. Let’s break it down first in terms of your resume format.
While Applicant Tracking System software is continually evolving, and like all forms of artificial intelligence getting smarter, it still can’t parse images. The software works by scanning for keywords, and if it likes what it reads, it de-constructs the resume into its own format, so there goes flaunting your design skills.
And consider how prospective employers may view bitmojis or emojis. The WSJ article quoted several employers who characterized their use as “juvenile.” And I agree; after all, aren’t you in large part being hired for your ability to express yourself in written form for the digital age? So why rely on a picture?
As for photographs, that’s a huge no-no in the U.S., although it’s still acceptable in European countries. When I was running human resources for global companies, I deleted resumes with pictures because I didn’t want my hiring managers to be even subliminally biased for or against a candidates based on appearance. (Yes, I know photos are imperative on LinkedIn profiles. What can I tell you? Not everything follows a logical thread).
Differentiate yourself by showcasing your accomplishments as the key part of your resume format.
I format resumes by including a section called “Selected Accomplishments” at the top of the page, right under the short summary paragraph. This curated list of specific things that the candidate has done provides context to the skills he or she purports to have.
Resume formats have changed a lot (remember “objectives?”) and continue to evolve. In 2020, this means designing a resume that will increasing be read initially by software, and then circumventing that software by networking the resume to an actual human. While keywords appeal to software, accomplishments appeal to humans.
Are you ready to have a resume that differentiates you by focusing on your accomplishments? Click here to read about my pricing and process. You may also want to read how your resume design can help your job search.