The biggest question when you are looking for a new career is, “How can my resume stand out from the rest?” If you haven’t asked yourself this question, then it is about time you did! These days, you are one in a hundred, if not a thousand, applicants vying for the position you just applied for. Here are 5 tips to make your resume stand out from the rest:
- Add Pizzazz
The person who receives your resume has already seen more resumes than he or she can count and all of them have the same things in common. For instance, the main section heading is usually some variation of “Work History”, “Experience”, or the like. Where did this practice start? It’s time to break the mold and be creative. If you are looking to move up in the Customer Service industry, try, “Customer Satisfaction Achievements.” If you are in the midst of a career change, go with something like, “Relevant Sales Roles.” The real effect of doing this comes when you are trying to draw attention to a specific set of experiences or skills, especially when you are trying to change careers.
- Make It Achievement-Based
One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your resume is listing experience under a previous (or current) position, and not celebrating the achievement of that experience. This is your chance to show your future employer what you can do for their company. Which looks better?
- Exceeded sales quota for 8 consecutive months
- Exceeded sales quota by 125% for 8 consecutive months, which resulted in a revenue increase of 11%
It’s great that you exceeded your sales goals for 8 consecutive months, but it doesn’t tell us much. You may have surpassed your goal by a single sale, or by 200. Did you have to promise the moon to your clients to get them to buy, or are you just that good? Your future employer needs to know this!
I know what you are already going to say: “But Tom, I don’t have time to customize every single resume I send out every day!” Job searching is not really a numbers game. There is no magic ratio that will result in a new job. The name of the game is to work smarter. Take the time to read through the job description carefully, and take note of keywords, skills, specific experience, etc. Be sure that you highlight these elements in your jazzed-up work experience section.
This tip won’t immediately jump off the page like the first two, but once you have captured the hiring manager’s or recruiter’s attention, having a customized resume for that specific job WILL stand out.
- Try Keyword Stuffing
Like my last tip, this one does take some research to see what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. Keyword Stuffing is especially effective if you are posting your resume to a job board or to LinkedIn. Adding targeted keywords to your resume will increase the likelihood of it being found. Be careful not to use keywords for the sake of using them. Keywords need to fit into the story you are telling in your resume. They need to feel organic and not forced. Whatever you do, don’t just list keywords in a word bank somewhere on your resume either!
For more on using keywords, Patrick Murphy has compiled a list of 20 Powerful Keywords to Charge Your Resume.
- Use Great Formatting
Even if you are in desperate need of a new job, there is no reason not to take the time to format your resume properly. You would not believe how many resumes I see each day where the name and contact information are in the header, the work experience is listed with 5-6 bullets that contain no more than one line each, and then there is nothing else on the page. Whitespace is a good thing – it helps keep things uncluttered – but too much whitespace looks bad and can strain the eyes.
Speaking of resume length, your resume should be two pages – not one, not two and a half, TWO. This is where customizing your resume comes into play, especially if the list of all of your experience and skills would take over two pages to showcase. Get out the red pen and start eliminating what is not relevant to the particular position to which you are applying at that time.
Get creative: if you have design experience, then let it show! Be tastefully colorful and accentuate your experience and skills. Use some of the fancy bullet points to stand out, but don’t be obnoxious. A resume that’s too flashy could have a negative impact on the reader.
Once you have mastered these tips, your next hurdle to getting your new career is to practice your interviewing skills. Now if only I had some tips on interviewing…