Disclaimer - I am not a recruiter, career coach, resume writer, and claim no expertise of any kind on the job search process.
But something that I see and read quite a bit about that is related to the job search process makes me wonder. It is the seemingly standard resume advice that more or less goes like this:
1. Recruiters and HR staff will examine your resume for less than one minute before making a screening decision. I have even heard this is more like 30 seconds.
2. You should have a cover letter, but there is a pretty high likelihood no one will read it.
3. But in case someone reads it, it better offer a compelling reason for the Recruiter to read your resume. Except of course if the Recruiter follows the process that many of them seem to adopt, that is to head straight to the resume before reading the cover letter. So mostly the cover letter is intended to convince someone to do something they have already done.
It would be funny if the cover letter said something like: 'Thanks for reading my resume, you must have been impressed since you are now reading this cover letter. Let me tell you a bit more about how fabulous I am.'
4. But here is the one 'truism' that for some reason bothers me the most - the common advice to not do anything different, unusual, or out of the ordinary on the resume itself. No images, logos, strange or different colors or fonts. No cutting-edge design at all that might distract or annoy the hiring pro. Keep the the typical formula, plain white paper, two pages max, 10pt Times New Roman font, nice clean bullet points of your major accomplishments, etc.
In other words, make sure your resume looks exactly like every other one in the pile or in the recruiter's overstuffed e-mail inbox.
The Evil HR Lady wrote about this issue, referring to a online service called Vizual Resume that offers a collection of interesting and different templates for the creation of more distinctive resumes. Other similar services like VisualCV also offer options to create more visually appealing, engaging, and perhaps more compelling documents and testaments to someone's skills, background, and capabilities. And there is at least one iPhone App for resume building and transmitting.
Is the advice to genericize all the design elements of the resume the best to give and for job seekers to follow? In an incredibly difficult job market, where competition for positions in many fields and regions is historically high? Whatever you do candidate, don't do anything to make your resume stand out from anyone elses.
Sure, playing it safe with format, design, or interactive elements won't rule a candidate out in a competitive search process, but it won't make anyone's qualifications stand out from the rest either.
Am I way off the track on this? Maybe some real recruiting pros can set me straight as to why the standard advice seems to have the effect of making it all the more difficult to get noticed.
Why has the technical revolution that has impacted and dramatically changed almost every aspect of the workplace had such a difficult time disrupting the classic resume?