The Virtual Impression You Need to Make

MRHJob hunting can be painful. It’s a frustrating feeling when you’re putting yourself out there and not hearing back. Experiencing that feeling of rejection over and over again can be pretty defeating. How many resumes have you sent out in the past month and not heard back? 5? 10? 20? More? It hurts. What you might not realize is even if you have the perfect resume, if you make the wrong virtual first impression, you’ll never get past GO. My formula for the perfect virtual first impression has four parts: a stellar resume, an impactful LinkedIn profile, PG-rated social media, and a clean Google search report. I’ll give the must-know information for each:


1. How to make your resume stellar

  • It needs to be one page. Unless you work in academia or a similar field and need to site publications and the like, then you have no business having a resume that is more than one page. Having a two or three- page resume makes you look like you don’t know how to edit. What matters most is the information that positions you for the job you want – the rest is fluff. A little fluff can be good, but too much fluff makes you look lost.
  • The layout should be clean, simple, and easy to read. Feel free to use Arial font size 10 as a gauge. Use 10-point spacing between major sections and five-seven points between items in the same section. You can put the cursor into the ‘space’, highlight it, and change the font size of the space. You should also left align bullet points as it looks cleaner.
  • The name you put at the top of your resume should reflect the name you want to be called. Your name should stand out, ideally using a larger font size and bold text.
  • Include your city, state, phone, and email – no need to include your address. Potential employers will not be coming to your house.
  • You need to have a summary statement at the top of your resume that explains your background and states what you want.
  • After your overview statement, put your strongest section next – either education or experience. Also, include a section at the bottom to give some personality to your resume. What you’ll call this section will depend on your background. Possible section titles include: ‘Skills & Passions’, ‘Skills & Hobbies’, ‘Other Qualifications’, ‘Extracurriculars’, ‘Volunteerism & Awards’, etc.
  • Limit each bullet to one-two lines. You’re summarizing, not writing a story. Incorporate results and impact whenever possible.
  • If you have gaps on your resume, just use years, not months plus years.
  • Everything on your resume should have a purpose. It should strengthen your argument for the job you want. Don’t hesitate to eliminate extraneous info that has nothing to do with your career goals. If you are stuck on this, consider my resume review service:
  • Save the file as your name plus the word ‘resume’. Make sure you don’t just save it as ‘resume’. That shows poor attention to detail and awareness.

2. What makes your LinkedIn profile stand out

  • Make sure you have a professional profile picture.
  • Brand yourself with a background picture. This sits behind your profile picture and helps tell your story. Choose this picture carefully to convey a passion of yours that aligns with your professional goals.
  • Keep your profile information up-to-date. Write in first person, and make sure to keep your headline, location, and jobs current. Don’t forget about other sections that may add depth to your profile like volunteer work, awards, and languages.
  • Simplify your LinkedIn URL. LinkedIn automatically gives you a long custom URL including your name and a bunch of numbers and letters. In the contact info section, you can change this to get rid of all the extra numbers and letters.
  • Make endorsements work for you. Your connections may endorse you for various skills, but make sure you delete any that don’t make sense in terms of your career goals.
  • Ask for recommendations. Be sure to have a few strong recommendations supporting your expertise in the area you seek to grow your career.

3. Make sure you have social media that doesn’t derail you

  • Dig into your social media accounts, both personal accounts like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and professional accounts like LinkedIn. Look through old posts and pictures for any comments or images that may paint you in an unprofessional light. These might be things like vulgar language, polarizing political views, illegal activities, or overly-revealing clothing. These could be things you posted or posts you were tagged in. If you find anything that could reflect poorly on you, remove it or untag yourself from it as privacy settings aren’t 100% reliable.
  • Use your personal social media to showcase your passions. Ideally, these are things that occasionally overlap with your professional goals. Be authentic to who you are, but remember that hiring decisions about you may take what you post into consideration.

4. Ensure the Google search on you is clean

  • If you haven’t Googled yourself lately, it’s time. See what comes up. If there’s anything that is unfavorable, see if you can have it taken down.

Contributed by Merryn Roberts-Huntley, Made To Hire,