Advanced Techniques to Accent Your Resume

The Highlighter Technique

An unconventional method of bringing additional focused attention to your resume is to selectively highlight two or three of the most important points with a yellow highlighting pen. Use of a highlighter is often accepted as a means of emphasis in communications and will provide your resume with the nearly immediately eye-catching color that will draw the reader to the key areas of your background.

Also note that if your resume is circulated beyond the original recipient, it will sometimes be assumed the recipient highlighted the resume, making it an even stronger message.

The Bolding Technique

A twist on The Highlighter Technique. If you are sending your resume via email or online submission, you can also emphasize important points in your resume by bolding keywords and key phrases. This technique is especially helpful if you know what the employer is looking for in filling a position and you want to highlight that experience on your resume.

This technique is used quite often by staffing agencies and contracting firms who are responding to specific employer requests with candidate resumes. By bolding or highlighting the key information, it jumps off the page (or the screen, as the case may be) to emphasize that the resume meets the necessary qualifications of the position.

The Picture Perfect Technique

Get ready for a politically incorrect (yet often effective) suggestion. This one goes against almost everything written about proper resumes. Yet it still works in the majority of cases.

Put your picture on your resume. Not pasted on separately, but digitally integrated as a small 1" x 1" image at the top right on the page.

Granted, you are not supposed to do that. And employers are not supposed to care about what you look like. But they do. Especially when hundreds or thousands of miles separate you, it can effectively communicate the vital message: "I am a real person. Talk to me."

There are some caveats to this technique. If you look like you just woke up from winter hibernation, your choices are to either shave or skip using this technique. But for the majority, there should be no problem with personal appearance. Remember, this is going to shrink down your photo to less than one inch square, so complexion problems or even a large nose will not matter much.

Many large company Human Resources Departments will screen, cover up or delete the photo, thereby masking a small part of your resume. So don't use this technique when sending your resume blindly into a large company. Only use it if your resume is going direct to the Hiring Manager or if it is a smaller company. And finally, the main reason all the books say this is wrong is because of the potential for discrimination. They are right, but only to a very limited degree. Bottom line is that there are still some out there who will discriminate against you for your race, your sex, your religion, and any of a variety of protected classes. Reality is that you probably would not want to work for them anyway. Yes, discrimination does happen, but it's rare. So if you are worried about potential discrimination, you have to go into this one with your eyes open. But remember that for every bigot, there are scores of professionals who will value your diversity. It is a risk, yet it is up to you to take that risk in a calculated way. If you feel it has the potential to enhance your job search, use it. If not, don't.