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 Adding a Personal Touch to Your Resume

By Joe Stein

If you have been following my column over the years, you have probably read quite a bit about the writing of your resume. You are aware that the average Recruiter or Hiring Manager only spends seconds when giving your resume a preliminary review.  On the flip side, hours can be spent on making the document perfect for the reader.
Since each Recruiter reads hundreds of resumes in a week, you may wonder how you can make yours a bit different from the rest. At the same time, you probably are concerned about breaking too far away from the traditional format or standard, and therefore potentially standing out for negative reasons.
There are some ways you can give your resume that personal touch while maintaining the more traditional conservative style that a resume generally requires. Below are some possible ways you can inject some of your personality or uniqueness to the document.
·         Link Your Social Media - This is, of course, assuming your social media (such as your Linked In account) is entirely professional and not personal in nature. You don’t want to take a potential positive and make it a huge negative by having something on the site that you will regret. The idea is that this allows the reader to take a more detailed look at you from a business perspective. You can do this by adding your link information to your address information on the resume. WNYJOBS also has a tool for Job Seekers that allows you to create a profile for your search. Doing this can separate your social media account completely from your search. The WNYJOBS profile tool ( ) is especially useful for unemployed as well as those who are employed but open for opportunities.   The profile has an option that allows employed candidates to add some detail into the profile regarding what may entice you to leave your current employment.
·         Create an Awards or Recognition Section – Over your career, you probably have been recognized for your work in some way. Most companies have some type of program for this, whether it is a traditional Employee of the Month program or some type of specific recognition tied to an event or project. What is amazing is that many people leave this valuable information off their resume, probably since it may not naturally fit into the chronological format of their resume. If you can’t work this recognition into the area designated to that employer, then create a separate section for it. Every Hiring Manager likes to think they are hiring a superstar from all others, and noting your awards plays right into that thinking.
·         Volunteer Activities – The days of writing how you like to read books and scrapbook are over, as it pertains to resume content (although it is still used to a pretty high degree outside of the U.S.). There are, however, some personal activities done away from work that can be entirely appropriate to place on your resume. An example of this is your volunteering activity. If there is a particular cause or organization you are passionate about, I am sure it will be with great pride that you note your work on the resume. As Social Responsibility becomes more and more important for employers, it can also be very noteworthy for a Recruiter.
·         Transferable Skills – If you are seeking a position that is different than what you are currently doing or have done in the past, you will want to focus on transferable skills. These are core skills that can be applied to a variety of positions in different industries. These are, therefore, areas you will want to emphasize as you personalize your resume to a greater degree. For example, strong Microsoft Office skills can serve a wide variety of positions and should be noted on a resume. If you possess specific proven leadership talents, this can be noted even though you may be seeking a Manager role in a different industry.
·         Sell Yourself – Don’t forget that the ultimate personal touch is informing the reader why you should be hired for the position. So, don’t forget to sell yourself. You don’t want to make your document all about “I”, but a Hiring Manager will generally give you some latitude when taking credit, as long as you can describe your role and do it without overt arrogance.
Where I usually caution Job Seekers away from being too creative in the process is with the overall format. Refrain from going with something that will be completely foreign to the Recruiter or Hiring Manager. Chances are they won’t take the time to see if they understand what you are trying to write. Also, unless you are applying for a graphic artist position, I would refrain from clip art, photos, etc. It may seem really creative, but will most likely prove to be a head scratcher to the overworked Recruiter.
While I am an advocate of a more traditional approach to creating a resume that does not mean that they have to be stripped of all signs of personal touch. There are a number of ways to subtly add detail to your resume that will help you display something personal in nature, whether it is an award you won or a charitable organization that you hold dear. Not only will you obtain the personal satisfaction of knowing it is on your resume, you may also find that this information provides you a competitive advantage by separating yourself from the crowd.
As always, best of luck in your job search!