Create Résumé. Apply. Wait. Interview. Repeat.

I read something the other day that the act of looking for a job was in and of itself, a job. And yet the only reward to said job was another job. Only it’s not that simple. Get a degree, they said. Multiple degrees later and years, decades even, of experience later and some are still struggling to get their foot in the job market. Why? While it may be a number of factors, there’s one that determines whether you escape the trash pile: your résumé.

Use bullet points, don’t use more than 1-page, add your references, don’t put personal information, stand out, don’t try too hard. With the ever-changing rules attached to building a résumé, it’s no wonder most end up with the résumé blues.

I have looked at or been approached about editing no less than 20 résumés in the last month alone. My Yelp page has been inundated with messages asking about career changes and updated résumés. I’ll gladly take on the business but I’m just wondering where the sudden surge came from.

Even in my personal circle of friends and acquaintances, I’ve probably edited more than I can count.

So instead of taking all of you money, I’ll share some tips to help your résumé stand out. Take these tips with a grain of salt, I am by no means claiming I am a professional résumé writer or guaranteeing you will get hired. Those people are here, here, and here.

#1. Proofread. For the love of all that is holy, proofread

Growing up we all had that grade school teacher or college professor who drilled into our heads the importance of proofreading. Create a rough draft, proofread, create a final draft, proofread, and then submit. Realistically, no one did it. The first draft looked good enough and was always sent on its merry way to be edited to death by the professor. Besides, that was their job, right? They’re the professionals.

Well, we’re not in school anymore.

Most of us anyway.

A portion of your professor’s salary was dedicated to cringing through your 11-page paper discussing The Theory of Cat/Toast Equilibrium, the hiring manager at the company you’re applying to won’t bother for more than six seconds.

Don’t assume they’ll understand what you meant or try to fill in the blanks.

#2. Formatting

If you want to use square bullets, commit to square bullets. Checkmarks? Commit to checkmarks. If you’re going to double space, commit to double spacing. Want to use Impact for your headers, Time New Roman for subheads, and Arial Narrow for your paragraphs? Go ahead, just don’t throw in Comic Sans in every other sentence because it looks cool.

Be consistent no matter what you do.

Also, don’t use any of the fonts mentioned above.

You want to stand out, but not because it looks like 15 different people have worked on it.

#3. Get Creative

In order to be taken seriously, your résumé does not have to be drab, boring, and lifeless. Worried that your text is going to spill onto a second page? Use columns. Have an amazing sentence from a former boss singing your praises? Add a pull-quote. Want to send someone directly to a webpage or social media profile without taking up too much real estate? Do it with a QR code. Not quite sure how to show you’re not exactly an expert with certain programs but have more than intermediate experience? Use a bar graph.

Again, there aren’t many rules as to how your information should be presented. Just that it should be contained to one page. You don’t need to add every single task or responsibility you’ve ever taken on, just highlight what specific tasks and/or responsibilities will allow you to adapt to a new environment, or which will show that you’re right for the company.

Having trouble deciding what you should and shouldn’t do? Look at some examples online. Canva is a great online tool that can help you once you’re ready to get to work. A team of professional designers have put together a ton of templates that you can choose from. Best of all, it’s free to use (see former post for other great low-cost online tools).

Whatever route you decide to go, be confident. You are a walking billboard for no one other than yourself. Might as well advertise how great you are, I do it all the time.