Updated: Feb 17
As a certified resume writer, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is: “How can I make my resume stand out?” Job seekers understand the competition they face during the application process and know they have to stand out from the crowd to earn a coveted interview slot.
At ReFresh Your Step, our team of talented writers will work with you to create a resume that helps you to Kapitalize on your talents, demonstrate your Pattern of Excellence, and take the next step in your dream career. Read on for five ways to make your resume stand out…in a good way.
1. Tailor your resume
According to data from Glassdoor, corporate job postings attract an average of 250 applicants. Of those applicants, around five receive interview requests, and ultimately only one gets an offer. That’s some serious competition.
To earn your spot among those who receive an interview request, you need to convince the employer that you have the qualifications they’re seeking. Start by reviewing a job description, make note of the key skills, attributes, and experiences emphasized. Then, compare that list to your resume. Are all of those items reflected in your document? If not, take the time to tailor your resume to include them. Be sure to use verbiage similar to what you see in the job description. Does the company call their customers “clients?” You should too!
The three primary areas on your resume that benefit the most from tailoring are: the heading, the professional profile / core competencies, and the experience section. The goal is to create a document that can be easily customized to match individual roles.
2. Focus on accomplishments
When writing your resume, you may feel tempted to create a laundry list of tasks for each role. Many of our clients find it challenging to move beyond their day-to-day tasks and focus on accomplishments. However, most hiring managers can infer a decent picture of your job responsibilities simply by reading a job title. Instead, show them the impact you have made in your roles, and the outcome of your work (with quantifiable metrics whenever possible). Asking yourself the question “why” can help you to turn a task into an accomplishment.
Example: “Wrote new standard operating procedures (SOPs).”
By asking “why,” thinking about the impact, and using quantifiable metrics, that bullet point becomes:
“Wrote 14 new standard operating procedures (SOPs) to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and achieve compliance with federal regulations.”
This gives your reader a much better idea of the scope and scale of this achievement, plus the role you played in the bigger organizational picture.
As an added bonus, taking the time to reflect on your Pattern of Excellent serves as early interview preparation.
3. Make your resume visually appealing
Your resume is a marketing tool. Not only does it contain your skills and accomplishments, but it conveys them in a visually compelling way, making it easy for the reader to identify key content. Good news: you don’t need a design background to create a visually appealing resume. We do suggest avoiding resume templates – they are beyond frustrating to edit and tailor!
Rather, look to features in word processing software that can add color and style to your resume while maintaining a professional look.
Using a colored font for your name and section headings
Adding lines under your section headings
Including shading for selected sections
Bold fonts for key content.
Always be sure to maintain appropriate spacing (including margins) so that your resume does not appear as one solid block of text.
A computer system will most likely be scanning your resume before it reaches a human’s eyes. Some of these applicant tracking systems (ATSs) have difficulty scanning and parsing content that contains complex formatting. Graphics and charts will almost never be scanned. So, keep your formatting fairly simple.
4. Create an error free document
With so many applicants to choose from, most hiring committees look for quick and easy ways to eliminate applications. Having a spelling mistake or two could convey that you do not pay close attention to detail. Unfortunately, this could be enough to move your resume to the “no” stack.
Take the time to quadruple check your resume for errors. Do not rely exclusively on spell check. After all, “manger” is a word, but I doubt you ever held the title of “Assistant Regional MANGER.” Let a trusted friend or family member proofread your document too – having a second set of eyes helps tremendously.
Even as certified professional resume writers, we ensure every resume has multiple people review it to ensure it is perfect before it reaches a hiring manager.
5. Be both strategic and true to yourself
The best resumes I have seen tell a story. They reflect the individual’s unique career history and accomplishments without trying to fit into a predetermined box. Perhaps your career trajectory has not followed a typical, liner path; embrace the twists and turns - you have learned valuable insights from those experiences that will likely make you a stronger candidate for your next role.
Linear or non-linear career path, your resume needs strategic content built with your targeted positions, desired industry or sector, and the personal attributes you want to highlight, in mind. This will increase your resume’s effectiveness.
We get it, resumes are not everyone’s idea of fun (we’re outliers)! If you want a team of support to help you navigate it all - reach out!