MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What are three things you look for in a resume? is written by Brit Morin, CEO of Brit + Co.
Your resume is the first chance you have to make a great impression on your prospective employer (and hopefully land an interview!). At Brit + Co , we’re always on the hunt for motivated, smart, and creative folks. And I must admit, we have received some pretty unique resumes. A few months ago, we even got one that resembled a handmade scrapbook. Now that caught my attention. It was one of the most creative resumes I’ve ever seen, second only to the engineer who laser etched his resume onto wood. With each one that comes to our office, I look for three key elements: unique design, a focus on metrics, and a relevant employment background.
At Brit + Co our mission is to unlock creativity, so we look for future employees that actively flex their creative muscles. The design of your resume is the first way to let me know more about your aesthetic. First off, keep it simple. Crazy fonts are never a good idea. Please, please, please never use Marker Felt or Comic Sans. It goes without saying that you should never use WordArt either. Second, keep your resume to one page. I don’t have much time, so highlight the really useful stuff for me so I can scan it in under a minute. Finally, consider the layout, color scheme, and overall design of your resume. Anyone can make a solid resume in Google Docs or Microsoft Office these days, but you will definitely earn bonus points if you can create one in Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. Double the bonus points if you use a nontraditional format (e.g. wood or an actual book as mentioned above) to tell your story.
Next comes the substance of your resume. This is the part where you (humbly) brag about yourself. You should elaborate on your past performance, but don’t use this piece of paper to merely list out your accomplishments. Instead, I look to see how you affected change in your last role. How were your ideas implemented and how successful were they? What areas did you improve and how did you measure that success? Don’t forget to share metrics—words can tell a story, but numbers can prove it’s true. Leverage the change you have delivered in the past to get hiring managers excited about the change you can deliver in the future.
As you’re listing past work experience, keep it relevant. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role, make sure you’re highlighting your past marketing experience. You’ll need a truly compelling story if you’re applying for a role in which you have no previous experience. Beyond your past jobs, show me your skills, any awards you’ve received, and any extracurricular passions that are related to the role.
I’m also curious about where you’re coming from. I want to see that you worked at great companies. Where you work says a lot about your past success and your desirability as a candidate. But your past experiences don’t completely define you. Just because you worked at Facebook doesn’t mean you’re the right one for the job. Don’t let a lack of big company names on your resume get you down, but also, don’t let it feed a Silicon Valley ego. Oftentimes, the best candidates come from startups or smaller companies. It shows they are open to risk and can keep up with the long hours and occasional harsh demands.
Finally, I want to see that you were at your previous company for at least two years (ideally three to four). No one wants to hire someone that’s going to jump ship a few months in. Now take these these tips and create a resume that has style and substance. Oh, and did I mention we’re hiring at Brit + Co? Be sure to check out our jobs board here. Good luck!