Do you think every resume template in the Google search results feel soulless? Or, maybe, you worry that you come across as bland in your cover letter? Employers don’t want another corporate drone taking up space in their office, they want enthusiastic team players who can help breathe new life into their company. That could be you, but maybe it’s just not shining through in your applications. Here’s four ways to inject more of your personality into your applications.
1 – Coordinate Your Look & Layouts
Format your resume, cover letter, portfolio and anything else you’re submitting in the application with the same look. This means matching your colours, fonts, images and borders on all of your application assets. You can even tie the aesthetic you chose into your LinkedIn banner, portfolio or personal website, if applicable. Keeping all of your application assets as cohesive as possible creates an aesthetic that will be remembered as uniquely yours.
Make sure your personality shines through with all of your visual choices. Use your favourite colours or ones you feel represent your personality, or make any imagery match your interests – for instance, using little stars instead of bullet points if you have an interest in astronomy (bonus if your visuals align with your industry). Just be subtle with any aesthetic choices so they don’t become distracting.
It’s also worth trying to meld your layout’s personal aesthetic to the company’s. You don’t have to copy the company’s exact look from their site, but you can use similar colours and imagery if they appeal to you. It’s a sly way to hint to the hiring manager who views your resume that you’re compatible with the company before they even read your application.
2 – Get Social
Showing your personality on your resume can be as simple as linking to another place where the hiring manager can see it. “Include links to your LinkedIn or Instagram on your resume – only if it’s professional enough!” says Style Nine to Five founder, Christie Lohr.
This doesn’t mean offering up all your party pictures to a potential employer, of course. Keep a professional looking social media presence, potentially where you discuss your interest in the career path you’re embarking on. Share photos, thoughts and reposts that relate to the interests you share throughout your resume and cover letter, and keep a consistent personal brand throughout your accounts.
3 – Nod to Your Hobbies & Values
Christie suggests putting little touches of your personal interests into your cover letter to create a clearer image of who you are. “Share some of your values, or paint a picture of your hobbies and how it relates to your job,” she says. Sharing how these things relate to your career journey is key – it speaks to who you are outside of work, but still finds a purpose beyond that in your letter.
Here’s Christie’s example of how to do this in your cover letter, from a job seeker client who works in childcare:
I love getting into nature and hiking with my dog, but I didn’t start out as an experienced trail master. It took planning, equipping myself with the right gear, and learning to navigate along the way. Trial and error, discovering my own path, and the support of fellow adventurers brought me to a place where exploring the trails has become second nature. Just like anyone learning the ropes and finding their way in a new activity, kids absorb their education and the world around them in the same way—through hands-on play, overcoming obstacles, and collaborative interaction with their peers. Regardless of their abilities or circumstances, I believe that every child has it in them to grow, gain unique experiences, and excel, and my passion lies in guiding them along that journey.
This is an especially great tip for people who are lacking in job experience. Bring up what you passed the time with before getting a job and how it’ll help you become a successful employee.
4 – Disrupt Generic Descriptions
Job applications are all about referring back to your prior work, but don’t be afraid to get more specific than simple bullet points with it.
“Perhaps add a day in the life section to your resume, or a photo of you ‘on the job’,” Christie suggests. These would both be good things to add in place of a personal profile or resume objective, which are often redundant. Since Christie’s suggestions are uncommon to traditional resumes, they’d definitely help you stand out.
When it comes to your cover letter, why not add a testimonial? “Share what a boss might say about you,” says Christie. After all, your former boss’s words hold more weight than your own perception of how you operated on the job. If you’re still close with a prior boss and can get a quote from them, it shows a level of creativity that’ll impress a hiring manager on top of the positives your boss offers.
Where other people’s resumes and cover letters all blend together, yours will rise to the top of the pile when you use these tips and get creative with your own ideas. Not only will they help you stand apart from the crowd, but hiring managers will get to know you before you even step foot in their office – meaning you’re that much closer to doing so.
Want to take the first step to bettering your job applications? Try purchasing a set of Style Nine to Five’s Job Application Templates and create your own stellar application assets.
Emily Morrison is a freelance writer and media professional with passions for film and storytelling.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock