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DETROIT — Will color help?  What about a jazzy design with eye-catching graphics?  Will that pizzazz help me catch the eye of an employer, elevate me to the top of the list, and speed my job search?

colorWhen it comes to the use of color, clever graphics and nifty design on a resume, the answer is yes, some of that stuff does work.  For about 15 to 20 seconds.

There is little doubt that the current job market is extremely competitive — in many industries there are more people competing for the best jobs than there are vacancies.  So color and design can help attract a recruiter’s eye.  But you better deliver the goods pretty quickly or the nice, probably expensive resume, will find itself in file 13, aka the trash bin.

Because there are more people competing for the top jobs — the ones with a challenging, interesting scope of responsibility and the big bucks/benefits to match — companies and their recruiters can be far more discerning.

If you have not connected with the potential employer in the career summary of your resume during that first 15 to 20 seconds, no amount of crafty design or other attention grabbing techniques will overcome a lack of interest.  Delivering the goods means identifying relevant experience and quantifiable accomplishments — those things the prospective employer is looking for, and then tout those in that career summary right beneath your contact information.

If you are submitting your resume directly to a recruiter versus a computerized corporate talent acquisition resume scanner, I would dump all those key skill-set lists at the top of the resume.  More and more people are employing that strategy as resume writers look for a way to propel their client forward at corporations with big talent acquisition digital platforms, but unless the document is being electronically scanned first you are wasting valuable resume real estate, top of the first page.

To be honest, I don’t care if you know how to use Outlook or any number of other programs unless the client specifically requires that in their selection criteria.  To be frank, at this point in our rapid digital evolution, most people do know how to use those tools.

For me, and many of my colleagues, it is all about value — your experience with the specific needs of the employer, your relevant accomplishments that are quantifiable and convey to the hiring authority that you can deliver the goods, the value that every employer desperately wants and needs.

Successful candidates are the ones who do a better job selling themselves by quickly and clearly defining their value proposition for potential employers.

Sending the same resume for every job opening, regardless of how much you paid for some resume writer’s work, is not the best way to tell your story.