No frills required when crafting a successful resume.

My first resume out of college was printed on a type of paper that was supposed to look like you could see the paper grains. With a pink tint. Somewhere I had learned that “interesting” paper could make the difference in getting my resume noticed. And while I did get some comments from female interviewers like, “Pretty paper!” or “Cool paper!”, that did not mean I got the job. In fact, I wasn't hired anywhere I submitted that resume. Later, after I got some resume-writing training and rewrote the perfectly well-crafted resume to make it simpler, I got the jobs.

Back then, companies did not use applicant tracking systems (ATS) and the world economy was very different. Companies have changed from mentoring employees to demanding benefits from employees. We're in the “what can you do for us?” era.

So, while your resume with the beautiful fonts, specially formatted indents and nice graphics on the border might look attractive to you, it does not look good to the hirer. In fact, all that great, creative work it took to make your resume layout stand out might actually block it from successfully passing the ATS.

Companies and hirers want simplicity in resumes and resume layouts. One to two simple fonts, maximum. No fancy borders. Plain white paper. Most application submissions are electronic now, anyway, so the hiring company will be printing the resume — on its own plain white paper. Interviewers want the resume to be calming and easy to read so they can, you know, read it. Remember, the hirer might be reading hundreds of these things. The company is looking for any reason to discard an applicant. That means your script font might be a deterrent, not an asset. Can you read it?

Many clients have presented resumes to me that look similar to the one described above, and when they get my revisions, they have said to me, “This is a plain Word document!”, as if they were expecting an intricate Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollack painting. That's right, job seekers, it might feel really awkward to do so, but you have to keep your resume layout and style simple. This is not about what you think works. This is about passing the ATS, getting past phone interviews, and getting in front of the interviewer so you can impress him or her by explaining all those fantastic and impressive achievements you're so proud of. Don't let what you like stand in the way of what works for the hiring system. Instead, work with the hiring system.

Companies don't want glitz and glamor. They want simplicity. And accomplishments.

Remember, it's not about what you think looks pretty or will stand out or guessing what the company wants from you. A resume is about telling the company what you can do for it. Your accomplishments matter, not the font or fancy resume layout. Stop worrying about whether to use script or italic and start figuring out how to explain all the ways you have helped companies you've worked for stay in the black or expand. Or how you helped improve the office somehow. Companies like that.

The simpler the resume, the more likely the interview.

Catch any recruiter's eye with a professionally written resume. Learn more.

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