How to Create an Online Resume with VisualCV

This resume tutorial is part of the free remote job course.  🌴

A one-page resume that’s personable and succinct will cure hiring managers of their resume blindness. This is the type of resume I’ll teach you how to create today with the online resume builder VisualCV

Based on my experience, an online resume outperforms a static resume when applying to remote jobs. I’m always receiving compliments from hiring managers about my resume, something I never received before when applying to remote jobs with a traditional black and white resume.

There are probably many reasons for this, but I think the main reason is that it shows hiring managers you’re capable of creating an online presence. This is a necessary skill for remote work. After all, most of your job relies on you being present on the web for video calls, Slack chats, and team collaboration that relies on online software.

Example of a Bad vs. Good Resume

I wanted to find an example of an ineffective resume for landing an interview for a remote position. To do this, I Google’d “example of the perfect resume.” I knew what most people consider to be a perfect resume is a parasite in the eyes of most hiring managers.

It took me exactly 0.63 seconds to find an example of an “excellent resume” posted by Business Insider. As I suspected, it was far from excellent.

Let’s take a look.

Example of a bad resume that's too busy and wordy
Source: Business Insider

There are countless reasons why this resume is bad, especially for getting a remote job. Here are just a couple:

No personality. Most remote companies are startups that prize the person as much as the person’s skillset. Here, Joan is bland, black and white, even though she’s probably a unique person. The resume you’ll create in a bit will have a picture and a bit of color to make you appear personable and authentic.

Too wordy. There are too many words and sentences. Period. It’s ironic this is considered an “excellent resume” even when it’s stated in the Business Insider article that “recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume before they make the initial decision on candidates.” Finding anything valuable in this resume in 6 seconds is hard because nothing sticks out.

Now, compare that “excellent resume” to this resume that has landed me remote jobs at some really cool companies.

Online version of my resume

I’ll show you how to create a resume like this below, but first let’s start thinking about what you should put in the resume.

Write down your accomplishments

Creating a solid resume takes three times longer if you skip this step. The goal here is to reflect on your previous jobs and write down everything noteworthy you did. This is a shorthand, free writing practice designed to uncover accomplishments you might overlook when creating your official resume in a structured way.

Do this exercise in a Google Doc named My Accomplishments for your previous three jobs, internships, research projects, or similar types of experience.

Here’s what my brainstorm looked like for one of the jobs I included in my resume:

  • Grew blog traffic significantly
  • Helped the company get acquired
  • Assisted the sales team on calls to sell to new clients
  • Helped put together the company’s core values
  • Got two posts to rank number 1 on Hacker News
  • Created a content initiative that brought in a lot of new traffic
  • Created case studies
  • Created content that was linked to by authoritative sites
  • Created content that started relationships with authoritative companies
  • Managed technical freelance writers and designers
  • Created a viral article
  • Started a successful newsletter

Each of my accomplishments starts with an action word. This is important because it signifies that you actually did something. Avoid saying that you were something (i.e. a dedicated and hard-working employee).

Action step: Write down any accomplishment that comes to mind for previous positions, even things you don’t think are important or relevant. The main goal is to get a bunch of shit down on paper. Do this for the previous three positions you had.

Make your accomplishments sound strong

Using the list you created for each position in the previous section, pick out your top five accomplishments for each position and bold them. Because I was applying for a content-driven marketing role, I selected accomplishments that were closely related to content creation and marketing.

  • Grew blog traffic significantly
  • Helped the company get acquired
  • Assisted the sales team on calls to sell to new clients
  • Helped put together the company’s core values
  • Got two posts to rank number 1 on Hacker News
  • Created a content initiative that brought in a lot of new traffic
  • Created case studies
  • Created content that was linked to by authoritative sites
  • Created content that started relationships with authoritative companies
  • Managed technical freelance writers and designers
  • Created a viral article
  • Started a successful newsletter

I also selected these accomplishments because I could attribute them to a key performance indicator (KPI). In other words, I could prove that they had an impact on the company’s bottom line.

In the list below, you’ll see how I transformed my top five accomplishments into accomplishments that have authority.

  • Grew blog traffic significantly → Made blog readers 2.5 times more likely to become a lead or sale
  • Created content that was linked to by authoritative sites → Created content that was linked to by Google’s developer team
  • Created content that started relationships with authoritative companies → Created content that started a relationship with Yahoo’s cloud team
  • Created a viral article → Created article that led to 10K daily readers and 20+ same-day sales
  • Started a successful newsletter → Started newsletter and grew to 11,000 opt-in subscribers

Check out my resume again. These are the same accomplishments I listed on it. They start with a verb that represents an action (something I did) and they are supported by numbers/KPIs or recognizable names. In my case, these recognizable names are actual companies (Google and Yahoo), but they can also be popular software brands or people.

For instance, if I was an accountant and worked with a famous accountant on a project, I would put their name down. And if I was a waitress and worked with table seating software, I would name that software (example: 5,000 tables seated with Software X).

You can stretch the truth a little here. For instance, if you don’t have access to actual numbers, you can estimate.

Action step: Pick out your top 5 accomplishments for your last three positions and add specifics to them (numbers, popular names, etc).

8 key elements of a successful resume

Less is more with a resume, but you need more of the right things, and these things need to be easy to locate and scan.

The Business Insider resume mentioned above has some good information but it doesn’t matter. This information is buried in excess. If it’s true that recruiters spend an average of six seconds checking out resumes, this information will never get seen.

The specific problem with the Business Insider resume is the horizontal left-to-right reading layout. What you want is a vertical left-to-right reading layout. This layout makes it easy for hiring managers to consume the most amount of information about you in the least amount of time.

A vertical left-to-right layout has more single-word and single-phrase lists, and all accomplishments are kept to one line. The goal is to let eyes move down the page just as quickly as they can move across it.

Below, notice how quickly you can consume my name/picture, tagline, summary, skills, and tool competencies on my resume in the left column. With this layout, hiring managers can consume five key elements of my resume in five seconds. And if they like what they see, they can easily move to my list of accomplishments.

Annotated version of my online resume

In a bit I’ll show you how to easily design a resume similar to mine,  but first let’s finish creating the content.

1) Accomplishments. Keep these to one line, start each one with a verb, and increase their potency by including a number or recognizable name.

2) Links to showcase pages. If the hiring manager is interested about what you did at a specific company, give them the opportunity to learn even more. This is also a good way to show off your website, something that many remote workers have. (I show you how to create a website and showcase pages in this tutorial. Do this after creating your resume.)

3) Testimonials. These back up everything you say. Using testimonials is an effective sales and marketing tactic, which is applicable here because you’re selling and marketing yourself. (You don’t need three like me. Having 1-2 powerful ones is probably better anyways.)

4) Specific skills. Here you want to list things you have experience using. I chose to list off tools I have experience using because using software is a big part of content marketing.

5) General skills. Here you want to list things you have experience doing. Pick the skills that are most vital to your job role and rank your skill level on a scale of 1-10. This ranking system increases the impact of your top skill that has a ranking of 10. It also shows hiring managers that you’re well-versed in other skills but not perfect, like a human. Startups wants humans, not workbots. These subtleties matter and help you get an interview. Remember, most remote companies hire people, not skills. Use this skills section to show you’re not afraid to say that you’re less than perfect at something.

6) Summary. Who is your professional self? What do you do? Capture it in one sentence. Unlike an objective statement, say what you do instead of what you want. Rewrite this until it sounds right.

7) Tagline. In your summary you’re saying who you are and what you do. Here you want to say something about your bigger mission. Why do I do content marketing for tech startups? To help grow them. Simple, but powerful. An accountant for startups might say “I help keep startups lean.”

8) Headshot. Find or take a picture of yourself. It should be casual – not suit and tie. My picture is just a selfie. This will add a face to your name and make you memorable to the hiring manager.

Update your LinkedIn account with the information you added to your resume for consistency. The hiring manager is likely to look at your LinkedIn resume, too.

Action step: Put this information in a two-column Google Doc. You can copy this template. To make a copy, click the link and, in the Google Doc, select by going to File > Make a copy. You’ll need this filled out for the next step.

Design Online Resume with VisualCV

Hiring a designer to pretty up your resume isn’t cheap. It can cost a few hundred dollars, even more if you need something custom. But because we don’t need anything custom — just something that looks better than every other applicants’ — using a web-based design tool is the best option.

After some research, the best solution I found is a platform called VisualCV. In addition to offering an affordable monthly service, VisualCV designs your first resume for you for free and returns it within 24 hours of you signing up. They did this for me and I was very pleased with the result.

VisualCV made it easy for me to turn my two-page black and white resume into something more compelling. The VisualCV template is more engaging and personable than the black and white document. It also utilize space better. This allowed me to add a more cohesive summary, a testimonials section, and a skill-ranking barset –- all on one page.

Here is some other stuff VisualCV offers:

  • 17+ professional templates that are easy to customize with the VisualCV web application
  • Analytics that show how many times your resume was viewed and downloaded
  • Analytics that show which city your resume was viewed and downloaded from
  • An online version and PDF version of your resume
  • Free support for help designing your resume

My resume made a strong first impression on hiring managers. Many of those who replied back to my application made a point to say how much they loved it.

Here’s how to get up and running with VisualCV:

Sign up for a VisualCV account. This costs $36 upfront for 3 months and then $12/mo after that. Because this is your first impression for hiring managers and allows you to create an effective resume without any design skills, it’s well worth the price. You’ll need the pro account to use the same template I used which is, in my opinion, the best VisualCV template. You can choose from other templates though. Just make sure there’s a placeholder where you can add a headshot of yourself.

Choose a resume template. After you sign up for a pro account, click the + New button on the top left part of this page. Then choose the “start from scratch template” option and pick the Avant theme.

Change settings. On your resume page, click the Settings icon on the left side of the page.

Settings button in VisualCV

In the box that appears, change the title of your resume to “My Resume” and change the resume type to “Public.” Choose a URL for your resume based on your name, then click Save.

VisualCV settings

Have VisualCV format your resume. On your resume page, you’ll see a question mark button on the bottom right part of the page. Click on it and then type “resume formatting” into the search bar. After this, click Send a Message.

Send a message to the VisualCV support team
For the topic, select “Need help with the product.” Then write the following in the message box:

Hey! I’d like help formatting my resume – I just bought a pro account. Here is a Google Doc with all of the content: [Google Doc Link]. May you use the “My Resume” template I started with the Avant theme and base it off my friend’s resume? You can view his here: https://www.visualcv.com/robs-resume. I have attached a headshot of myself to this message. Thanks!

Be sure to attach your headshot file.

After sending this message, you should receive a message from the VisualCV team within 24 hours saying that your resume is formatted. You can then make changes to details. For instance, you can change the color from blue to whatever color you prefer, change the font type and size, and much more.

And that’s it. When your resume is designed to your liking, you can start sending hiring managers direct links to your online resume. You can also download a PDF version of your resume for when you need to upload it along with your application.

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