5 Résumé Tricks and when to Use Them

In the age of digital sophistication, job seekers are employing all kinds of gimmicks on their résumés - from infographics to portraits - to get attention.

While some of these fancy features may give you an edge, it's important to do your research first to make sure your résumé matches the culture of the company you're hoping to impress, according to Cassandra Jackson, instructor in the MBA program for the University of Phoenix Detroit Campus and human resource manager for the city of Detroit. Many of these tricks only work in specific fields and for less-conservative companies.

So how do you know if the gimmick is right for you? Jackson weighs in on five résumé tricks and what to consider before using them:

QR codes

Quick Response (QR) codes are those square bar codes that are showing up on products and ads. The codes can be scanned by smartphones to quickly connect users to a website.

By creating a QR code and placing it on your résumé, you can easily direct potential employers to a web page containing more information about you than they could get on a one-page résumé.

What to consider: The only people who will scan codes are those who know what the codes are and have a smartphone in their hands, so Jackson suggests only using a QR code when applying to a job where employing the latest tech gimmick matters, such as with technology, marketing or social media positions.

Creative presentation

From delivering a pizza-shaped résumé in a box to designing a résumé resembling a Monopoly® board, some applicants are pushing the envelope in terms of visual presentation.

What to consider: "For many companies, the first person reading your résumé is someone in HR, and they may not be impressed by creativity," Jackson says.

She recommends resisting highly inventive résumés unless you're looking for a position in graphic design, advertising or marketing, where ingenuity will be an asset.


Some job applicants include images of themselves, hoping that if they "look the part," they'll connect with an employer.

What to consider: The only time Jackson recommends a photo is if you're hoping to work on camera or in front of the public, when how you present yourself is critical to the work itself.

Graphic visuals

Many job seekers are spicing up résumés with colors, unusual fonts and even infographics. The goal: to add visual interest and reflect sophistication.

What to consider: If you want to make one section of your résumé pop, it's fine to add colors, highlight text or even use an interesting font, as long as it doesn't look cluttered, Jackson says.

She doesn't recommend infographics when applying for positions at large, traditional corporations, where such résumés might be viewed as obstructing the clarity of your work history. "Remember, HR professionals tend to only spend 60 seconds on a résumé."

However, for a tech, sales or marketing job, where the person on the receiving end is accustomed to infographics, your extra effort may be appreciated. But use caution, Jackson advises. "It's got to contain relevant material. Fancy graphics won't get you the job if you don't have the skills."

SEO optimization

"Do research on search engine optimization (SEO) - keywords typically used to describe your specific position," Jackson encourages, "and include those in your résumé to increase the possibility of being seen by an employer."

What to consider: By including the most searched-for keywords on your résumé, you can help employers more easily find you when you post your résumé on job-hunting websites.

One caveat: It's important not to "stuff" your résumé with too many keywords, Jackson says, which can backfire by making content sound stiff.

-By Jenny Jedeikin

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