Monday, February 15, 2010

The Strategy Behind Bold

When preparing a résumé, the use of bold print is one of those things in the back of your mind that you should incorporate. Once all of the information has been gathered and typed into some sort of format, and the résumé is essentially complete, the first thing the average person does is go back and highlight items throughout the presentation in BOLD.

This event usually signals the light at the end of the tunnel, as the preparation process was absolutely, exhausting. The gathering of information took days, and trying to come up with a format was equally tiring, when having so many choices. Just having to consider all of the different approaches in résumé writing found out there on the Internet today can be intimidating. Then, you have to complete the task of compiling (writing) your information in the “best style” ever, in ways that each of us has fantasized will “wow” the reviewer.

Finally, after days or even weeks; the “Best Résumé Ever” is in the final stages of being ready to submit. With glee and a final sense of accomplishment, the final touches are set in motion to define our creative flair.

On average, the subject matter or things that people will use bold font on can be quite amusing. Some presentations will have only the dates of employment in bold (2003-Present); others will have the candidate’s name and category headings in bold (Professional Experience or Education), though some will use capital letters to help make these headings stand out. In some cases, the applicants address, phone number or even e-mail address is considered important information and call for bold accents. On occasion, you will find the employer name and/or job title prominently displayed in bold highlights, and of course the high school or college degree and institution.

For just as many people you find out there preparing a résumé, you will find just as many variations in the use of bold print when adding the final touches. What many people do not consider, is that there really is a strategy involved in using the bold print. How you choose to use the bold print can portray quite a bit of information to the reviewer about your approach in life, or to getting the job done. If your use of bold print seems hap hazardous, inconsistent, does not portray a theme, or employ a methodical approach; you may be sending the wrong message. Notice how nothing in this paragraph stands out?

Consider the following perspective when you set out to send a message to the employer, and decide to use bold highlights in your résumé presentation.

The purpose of bold font is to draw the eye to certain information, from the beginning of your résumé, right on down the first page and into the second. The information portrayed in bold should be the information you want the reviewer to notice, and to remember. When you consider that the typical résumé only receives 10-20 seconds of attention (some résumés receive even less), the use of bold print can be your best friend. Did you find your eye drawn to this statement when you began reading this paragraph?

Only the most valuable bits of information on a résumé should be portrayed in bold, and depending upon your career field or objective; this information will vary from one presentation to another.
The first and most common strategy is to highlight your name. You want to use an interesting font, and you want to portray personality through your name; in a way that the employer will remember the visual impact and associate your name with the position you are seeking.

The next most important thing to highlight is your job title. Most presentations today will list a job title right up front, and that should be the next thing the reviewer sees. The job title you choose to list should match the position you are applying for, and should be in bold. This covers two important areas. You have told the employer that you are exactly who they are looking for and stated your objective early on; and you have saved the employer valuable time, as they do not have to determine what your value is or what position you are seeking by reading through your information. This small attribute will leave a positive impression on the reviewer, almost at the most sub-conscious level, but there nonetheless.

This strategy can also be applied if you are using an objective statement or a profile narrative on your résumé. Make sure that you are careful to incorporate a job title in your statement, and highlight the information. Remember, that there is never a one size fits all résumé – you must design each résumé for the position you are currently seeking. Along these same lines, make sure that you highlight the job titles you have held when you incorporate your employment history. This strategy will draw the reviewer’s eye to your previous assignments; show progression in responsibilities and document advancement in your career field.

So, at this point, we have made sure the employer knows who we are, what job we are seeking, and this information is now reinforced by highlighting the job titles previously held. Great start! In other words, the target employer could care less about the names of your previous employers. If you choose to highlight the previous dates of employment, you are taking valuable review seconds away from other information in your presentation; not to mention drawing attention to the length of employment or any gaps in employment history you may have experienced.

The next strategy is to highlight a valuable contribution or accomplishment you have achieved in order to keep the eye moving, and prompt the reviewer to gather as much valuable information in the short period allotted as possible. By applying the bold font to a portion of one or more statements further down in your résumé, you will accomplish this task. For this strategy to be effective, the information you highlight needs to make a statement in itself. Review the following statement to get an idea of how this works; this statement provides two different opportunities to use the bold print effectively.

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment in XYZ Corporation which generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment in XYZ Corporation which generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment in XYZ Corporation which generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Notice how the highlighted text makes a statement in itself and could stand alone?

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment.

Generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Be selective in the information you choose to highlight, and refrain from overkill. Too much bold print can render the entire process just as ineffective as a bad strategy in choosing the wrong information to highlight. As a general rule of thumb, the use of bold is most effective when used sparingly and when well spaced throughout the page.

There is absolutely, nothing wrong with highlighting your education, degree, or special training that supports your objective. This is especially true if the employer has determined that a particular degree or level of education is a condition of employment. If this is the case, then you may want to incorporate the education information on the first page and draw the same attention to this qualification as you would your name and job title.

As long as you follow the basic concept, you will be able to intrigue the reviewer with the information presented in your résumé, and effectively portray the potential, or value you will bring to the organization. The competition is tough, and the little things that you use to promote yourself can go a long way. Your strategic use of bold print will serve to draw the eye down the first page, and on into the second as the reviewer tries to absorb more important information as quick as possible!

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