Make your job application materials stand out!

Today I thought I’d share a few tips for making your application materials a bit more eye-catching. Have other ideas or advice you’d like to share? Post them in the comment section!

Formatting your resume can be time consuming work but it’s well worth it. Adding subtle (and professional) colors or more creative formatting can make your resume stand out visually – and this is a visual field!

There are many resume templates available for free (I really like the options on this website:, but be aware that templates may be difficult to work with in software such as Microsoft Word because of inherent formatting.

If you do decide to go with a more distinctive resume format, you can create a cohesive look for the rest of your application materials by mirroring the heading from your resume on your cover letter (including altering the text colors, etc. if applicable) and any other documents you’re submitting.

Something you probably already know – remember to tweak your resume for each job to emphasize the skills listed in the position announcement. This might mean changing the order of the bullet points under positions in your “work experience” section, or possibly changing words to match those included in the description. Also, make sure your tense is consistent in your descriptions of your work activities – I was advised that if you are still at a job, make everything present tense, even projects you’ve already completed.

Another element of your application could be a portfolio of your work. I created a website and populated it with examples of my image editing, providing both a “before” and an “after” image. If you have image editing experience, this is ideal for showcasing your skills. Websites are easy to make – again, it can take some time to make an attractive site, but this is a visually focused field. Google Websites has some good options for a customizable website, or WordPress is always popular. Keep basic design elements in mind such as legible font and the right amount of contrast between the text and background.

Finally, something that came up at the 2016 conference in Seattle – have all of your materials ready before you log in to an HR site to submit your materials. Also, while most sites will have you upload a resume and cover letter (hopefully as a PDF), it’s good to have a plain text version ready to paste into a free text field, as some sites will also require that.

Anything else you’ve found helpful, or any other topics you’d like to see written about on the VREPS site? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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