Award-Winning Résumé Writer Offers Advice on How to Makeover Your Résumé in 2012

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Laura M. Labovich, of Washington DC-based career firm Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group ( showcases how visual aids can transform a dull résumé from blah to beautiful, and help get an employer's attention in the process.

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"Visuals aids on résumés are no longer taboo. In many cases, visual elements are intriguing and can increase the chances that a applicant's résumé will be read" says Laura M. Labovich of Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group in Bethesda, MD.

To get a job today, job seekers must try often considered "wild" tactics to get noticed.

While it may seem like surprising advice, résumés that incorporate graphics and color are not just for creative professionals anymore. A purely textual résumé may not be enough to stand out in a crowd of candidates, especially in a competitive economy.

According to Laura M. Labovich, award-winning résumé writer and founder of Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group, "Visuals aids on résumés are no longer taboo. In many cases, visual elements are intriguing and can increase the chances that a résumé will be read. When done tastefully, graphics, charts, color, and pizazz in the form of quotes or testimonials, can be the "wow" factors that will catapult that resume to the top of the hiring manager's pile."

Tasteful and professional visual accessories (note: no clip art or cheap graphics) can add value—and charm—to a résumé and can be helpful in grabbing attention, creating interest, and increasing appeal to employers.

To add some zing to a stale, bullet-heavy, or otherwise boring résumé, consider the following:

1. Charts or bar graphs: Charts demonstrate that the candidate has exceeded expectations by illustrating actual vs. projected performance. By incorporating charts or graphs in the accomplishments section, a job applicant can provide very clear proof of achievements (i.e sales and/or revenue goals exceeded, etc.)

2. Certification logos: A certification that is impressive, hard-to-achieve, and contributes strongly to a job seeker's story is a useful visual accessory to add to a career marketing document. Of course, it's important to first confirm that doing so is approved by the certifying agency or organization.

3. Industry-appropriate icons: Consider the inclusion of images that represent a field or occupation—such as a chef’s hat for a chef or a pen for a writer—as they can be eye-catching, visually interesting, and relevant.

4. Drop caps: Drop caps—or large initial letters or words at the start of a paragraph or document—can add style and focus—and are frequently used at the top of the résumé, in the career summary or profile section, to draw dramatic attention to a word or sentence.

5. Watermark: The use of a watermark can add a touch of flair to a résumé, as long as it doesn’t interfere with readability. Graphic artists or other creative professionals may consider using their work samples as watermarks.

6. Text box: The inclusion of a text box can help to separate lists of unique accomplishments or skills. Many job seekers use text boxes to highlight a client list, technical and/or software skills, a career summary, and/or testimonials.

7. Spot color: Liven up a résumé with the addition of text color or, for something a bit more subtle, spot color on icons such as bullets or other non-textual elements.

Charts, graphs, tables, logos, watermarks, drop caps, text boxes, color, and industry icons are among the other graphic aids available to a job seeker in the quest for a compelling résumé, but Labovich cautions: "Some industries will not approve of this bold strategy and it's important to investigate, in advance, if yours is one of them. Select and incorporate each visual element carefully, so they will complement—not detract from—your qualifications for a position.

To find additional job search advice or get your question answered, view the Ask Laura! Career Advice Column.

About Laura M. Labovich and Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group:

Laura M. Labovich, MLRHR, Founder and President of Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group, is a Guild Certified Five O'Clock Club Career Coach, an award-winning résumé writer, and the co-author of the soon-to-be-published book: "100 Conversations for Career Success: Learn to Tweet, Cold Call and Network Your Way to a Dream Job" (LearningExpress, LLC.)

Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group ( is a full-service career consulting firm that arms high-achieving professionals with empowering job search solutions enabling them to attract more job offers, at higher rates of pay, in a shorter period of time. Aspire! Empower! offers job search strategy coaching, résumé and career marketing document development (bios, Linkedin profiles, executive summaries) social media training, and career development workshops for individuals and companies, in the Washington D.C. area, and throughout the U.S.


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