Slidesumé: Why hiring managers will never choose your résumé
I’m used to designing slides for my clients, but recently something unexpected happened. A client asked me to redesign his professional résumé. I organized a briefing session and I asked him what he needed me to do and why. The problem was that he had a traditional, self-made résumé in Microsoft Word, which looked normal and boring. If you search for the word “résumé” on Google, Wikipedia comes up with the following definition:
A résumé is a document used by persons to present their backgrounds and skills. The résumé is usually one of the first items, along with a cover letter and sometimes an application for employment, which a potential employer sees regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview.
He asked me to redesign the résumé to make it more appealing and to turn it into a more impactful document for hiring managers.
I went back to my desk and spent some time brainstorming several layouts. Once I found one that I liked, I started sketching it. From there to Adobe Indesign, it didn’t take very long to professionally recreate, and the redesigned résumé was quickly ready for the client.
I scheduled the delivery meeting and presented his new résumé. I was very satisfied with my new design, and the client liked it a lot. However, he felt something was missing. The new résumé was much easier to read, the information was organized in a smart and impactful way, but it had something in common with the original, boring version: you needed to read it.
This new résumé included all the information to describe the professional life of my client. Therefore, based on his seniority, we ended up with a 3-page document. This design would surely simplify the life of a recruiter, reducing the time to go through the 3 pages, but it wouldn’t have brought any major changes in the boring screening process. The client, who felt something was missing, asked me to find a way to summarize the résumé into just one slide, and to select the most relevant information about himself.
That was the point where I realized that, with the right design, we could have achieved much more than just simplifying the design of the résumé.
What’s the objective of a résumé?
Let’s think in a lean way. What’s the objective of the brief the client gave me? The idea is to impress the hiring manager with a document that really stands out among thousands of other résumés so that she advances to an interview meeting.
Traditional résumé screening process
The opening position is posted online somewhere and the hiring manager, at his desk, is ready to be inundated by résumés. Thanks to the fame of the hiring company (good employer branding), thousands of résumés start flowing to the hiring manager’s desk instantaneously.
It would be impossible to filter them all efficiently, so there are HR tools which help hiring managers perform a pre-screening, based on general quantitative achievements, e.g., the graduation score. Many résumés are killed at this stage, and the others are personally analyzed by the hiring manager.
The HM needs to read the remaining résumés document by document, and absorb only the most important highlights of each profile. It often happens that companies do not even have the pre-screening tool, so the HM receives loads of résumés to read.
In this process, he reads first and then takes out the main highlights later. If the highlights do not correspond to the hiring requirements, he discards the résumé.
However, reading résumés can quickly become a very boring and tiring task. All of them look very similar, albeit in different formats, so the HM needs to carefully read them one by one.
A drop of attention often happens at the very beginning when the HM begins to read the résumé. Did you know that people decide whether to read an article or not based on the headline?
According to Copyblogger, 80% of your visitors will read your headline – but only 20% will go on to finish the article. We can say the same for résumés.
People love reading by hooks, to be led through deeper levels of detail. When first approaching a document, people look for the title, which gives them an indication of whether it is worth reading the contents in detail or not. If the article has subtitles or highlights keywords, people will first read those and finally will decide whether to read it all or not.
People love skim reading – Every reader skims. Whether you’re reading web content, a newspaper article or a book, skim-reading is something everyone does to decide whether it’s worth devoting time to reading the piece thoroughly. Listicles are particularly brilliant because, unlike with traditional long-form articles where skimming might cause you to miss important information, the content on each section of a list is usually concise and self-contained
When a hiring manager faces a résumé, the title is often the name of the person and only in the best cases, the job title, so this does not provide indications on how to proceed. The HM needs to read it all, line by line, being unable to judge if that résumé fits the hiring expectations. This process is frustrating and extremely time consuming.
On the other hand, when the hiring manager decides on the right person to call for the interview, he needs to have a complete framework of detailed information about his professional life. So, what to do?
How did I come up with the idea of the slidesumé?
The traditional screening process is:
- Read résumé
- Identify key highlights
- Call the chosen person
What if we could swap the steps, giving the highlights to the HM at the beginning of the process? Would this save him the time to scout for highlights reading all the documents?
As you can imagine, analyzing highlights takes much less time than reading the whole résumé, so it allows the hiring manager to read faster and to come to the decision much quicker.
Ideally, the hiring manager could decide whether the résumé is interesting in a few seconds. Based on that, he would choose to proceed reading the entire document.
What information exactly should the slidesumé include?
At a higher level, we can say that the HM will look for two main things:
- Does the candidate fit in?
- Does the candidate stand out?
Nowadays, qualifications, degrees and masters have become very popular, so they become a basic requirement for most of the “intellectual” jobs. We call “fit in” all the minimum requirements needed to access a specific job position. If you want to become an accountant in a Big-4 consulting company like Deloitte, EY, KPMG or PWC, you most likely will need a degree in Economics. As you can understand, this is a must-have requirement. We call this fit in.
Accordning to The Atlantic: The problem, it seems, is the proliferation of B-grade B-schools. Universities are now conferring 74 percent more business degrees than they did in the 2000-2001 school year. Much of that torrid growth has been driven by part-time and executive MBA programs at less-than-prestigious institutions looking to cash in. And while the supply of business grads has continued to grow, the WSJ finds that pay for young MBAs has dipped 4.6% since the recession, reflecting both the slow job market, and the fact that the degree seems to have lost some of its cache
At this point, your résumé would be in a pot with many others that fit in. The question is, which of those stand out?
Normally, you stand out because of personal traits or special achievements that you earned in your professional or personal life. The stand out part is something that really leaves the HM astonished.
Finally, we need to include fit in and stand out information in such a way that we can communicate main highlights to the HM to speed up his choice.
What can you do for me?
If you have said that you have the minimum requirements to be taken into account and you are also the special one between your peers, there is one more thing missing… I need to know if you understand my problem and if you can solve it.
I hate when, every time I hire a consultant, they start talking about themselves. It seems they love talking about how special they are and about the uniqueness of their achievements.
Have you ever seen the sales pitch of a top consulting firm when they propose their services? It’s incredible how they can create long and boring presentations talking about their companies. What you really miss is the “What they can do for you” part, but if they don’t even mention it, how likely do you think they have really understood it?
Tell the client or the hiring manager which problem you solve through the services you offer. Every job position is filled to solve specific problems, and this is what you want to be: the right problem solver at the right time!
So first and foremost, showcase your top services that address your client’s main problem. This way you’ll tell him that you clearly understand his challenges and that you are there to solve them.
Slidesumé: let’s make it!
As you have probably noticed in the cover photo of this blog post, a slidesumé is a one-page document that leverages the visual power of a slide to showcase the highlights of a résumé. Do you like it? If you do, why don’t you G+ it? It costs nothing to you and it adds value to the content!
Let’s analyze the structure of what I created for my profile:
You’d better start by telling the HM your name—then we will at least we know what to call you! I like to make it crystal clear and to pin it to the top, because this clearly makes the slidesumé a personal document.
What’s your job? I know that nowadays many job titles mean basically nothing, so please avoid things like:
Chief of Creative Design and Marketing, Distribution Channel Inspiration Manager, Business Development Officer… etc.
Try to go for something short, honest and very simple that really reflects what you do.
Behind documents, website or business cards, there will always be people. Sending a slidesumé, you are trying to connect with other people, letting them know that you are willing to work for them. Therefore, make it personal, and use a picture of yourself.
I’d strongly recommend to avoid pictures from Facebook with an extremely low resolution, and especially from parties where you were drunk! Choose a picture that really shows your face in a good resolution. If you have a picture where you smile, it’s even better.
This is the “what you can do for me” section. Remember that everybody is interested in connecting with you professionally if you can solve his problems. Especially a hiring manager, who is looking for somebody who can solve someone else’s problems (the manager who posted the job opening). So I’d recommend you to make crystal clear what you are there to do.
I can perfectly understand if you tell me that this won’t ever include all the things you can do, especially if you have years of experience under your belt. However, remember that you need to give your HM the main highlights, so focus on what you can do better.
In my case, I focused on Presentation Design, making the difference between content creation and content maintenance. Of course, I can approach design widely and generally design documents as well as other like logos, business cards, banners, etc., but here I focused on a single specific skill.
I personally use it for language skills, but you could use it for skills in general. My best recommendation is to use it for the skills that support your service offer. Back to my “languages example”: if I’m applying for a job in France, I’d better show off my French knowledge.
I prepared the following slide as a food-for-thought excercise. Download and use it to design your skills. All the shapes are ready to use, so you just need to choose the ones you like the most and adapt to your slidesumé.
In this section, I highlighted my personal traits that, of course, support my services and that make me stand out. For example, stating that I’m focused on details assures the client that I can design their slides accurately. They can trust me, not only as a presentation designer, but also as somebody who will double check their content and prevent mistakes.
For personal traits, I’d recommend using vector icons that make each trait more visual. I know you could say, “Why shouldn’t I use icons for all the other parts?” Well, you could technically use them for services, for example, but I’d recommend you not to abuse using icons in the slidesumé. It is preferred that you to use them for one section only, to make it unique enough to stand out next to the others.
Where can I find vector icons for PowerPoint?
There are many websites where you could find vector icons, but the one that I use the most is definitely http://flaticon.com. You can download most of them for free if you mention the author in your slides, or you could subscribe to flaticon. The service is very cheap (something like $US9.99/month) and you get the full catalogue of icons, including premium icons. And you can use these icons without mentioning the author.
Now let’s see how it works:
- Connect to http://flaticon.com
- Search for the icon
- Select the one you like the most. I’d recommend choose black and white icons so you don’t introduce color noise to your slide
- If you go for the PNG, you will have to choose the color and the resolution.
- The biggest problem here is that, if your color is not among those already featured, you’ll have to input the hexadecimal color of the code. However, PowerPoint does not give you the HEX codes of colors. PowerPoint only gives you the RGB.
Therefore, you’ll need to go to adobe color, input your RGB and calculate the HEX code.
I believe this takes too long, especially if you need to try multiple colors, because every time you try, you will need to go through the whole process again. Is there a way to import icons in PowerPoint and change the color from it directly? Well, PNG is surely a no-go because it is an image file. As an alternative, you could download the EPS file and then elaborate it in PowerPoint with a nice top secret trick.
You’ll have to confirm the ungroup. You will know you got it right because you’ll notice a small border around the icon.
To cancel it, select the icon, then click again and select the border. You’ll be able to cancel the border, and the icon will be finally customizable. Therefore, you’ll be able to apply the colors you like directly in PowerPoint.
If you send your slidesumé, you’d probably want to be contacted back. Therefore, I’d recommend you introduce your contact details at the bottom. I like to supply as much information as I can. To design them, you can use the icons as shown in the previous point. In this case, icons won’t bother the whole design, because you would include very small icons to just fit the bottom bar.
I showed you a structure and instructions how to fill in the layout, a method which I find very flexible and extremely effective. In my opinion, this layout includes all the information you need to fit in and to stand out. Therefore, in a single slidesumé, you could attract the attention of your next employer, or eventually acquire a new client.
However, creativity has no limits, so feel free to use your own personal approach and develop your slidesumé version. I invite you to share it with us on the Facebook group of Presentation Designers I created for knowledge-sharing purposes.
Finally, in this post, we approached for the first time an innovative design product named “slidesumé”. This represents a new way of visualizing your résumé in such a way as to reverse the screening process and to attract the attention of the hiring managers for a higher conversion rate.
You learnt how to create it and you got access to layouts that will help you get started immediately with your next slidesumé.
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