Your resume is arguably the most important asset you have in your job search. The all-important job interview is often the hot topic of discussion when it comes to discussing career advice, but your resume is your key to getting to the interview stage in the first place. Think of it as your first impression on the hiring manager; your only opportunity to showcase your skills, merits, and work experience that qualifies you for the job. You can’t win them over with a resume that reads like a carbon-copy of all the other candidates’, so making your resume stand out from the competition is imperative.
A bad resume can stand out just as much as a good one though, so it’s all about making it both memorable and convincing. Make your resume stand out for the right reasons with these tips and tricks, as well as some key resume dos and don’ts when it comes to winning over hiring managers.
Relevance is key
Using the exact same resume information for all of your job applications and calling it a day might be the most convenient thing to do, but unfortunately, this won’t help your job prospects much. Instead, it’s worth taking the time to tailor your resume to the company or jobs you apply to. The purpose of a resume is to show the employer why you’re the perfect fit for their company and the position they’re offering, not just to tell them every one of your skills and accomplishments regardless of whether they’re actually relevant. There’s no point in going into great detail about your background and previous positions on your resume if they don’t make you more qualified for the job in question.
That’s why you should take this opportunity to focus on making your resumes as relevant to each specific job opening as you can. A good way to do this is carefully read different job descriptions and then rework the keywords and phrases in your own words. This will indicate that you understand what the employer is looking for in a candidate, but that you haven’t simply copied and pasted the job description.
Tailor your resume to the company or position in question by highlighting the skills and experience that are particularly relevant, but avoid overused buzz words such as ‘ambitious’ and ‘hardworking’ that hiring managers have likely seen time and time again.
Think about visuals
Obviously content is the most pertinent element of your resume, but all those carefully crafted sentences won’t be as effective if they’re presented in a messy, confusing, or dense manner. Remember that the hiring manager will probably be working through hundreds of resumes when they get to yours, so having a resume that is both relevant in content and pleasing to the eye will give you an edge over competing job seekers. It may be a professional document, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be visually appealing.
There are a number of ways to make resumes stand out visually other than just using the first job resume template you find. These include using easy-to-read fonts and a clear header. One important tip, tying in with the previous tips about relevance, is to keep your resume concise by omitting any unnecessary information. Don’t make the hiring manager read through long, dense chunks of text that could easily be made more succinct and to-the-point. Think about using bullet points to display important details at a glance. If you have additional information that you feel like you need to include but it won’t fit on your resume, you can always think about including it in your cover letter instead where possible.
Another way to make your resume eye-catching is to make use of quantitative data. This can mean using numbers and percentages to describe achievements so that they jump off the page. Doing so can also make sure the information in each bullet point is memorable, which is exactly what you’re going for with your resume. Don’t be afraid to put numbers or other important details in bold text for added emphasis.
Choose your words carefully
As we said above, highlight your skills and experiences that are most fitting for each job posting but avoid generic resume clichés and keywords. Phrases like ‘enthusiastic’, ‘responsible’, and ‘hard-working’ are overused and have most likely lost their impact on employers, especially when you think about how many other candidates’ resumes use the exact same stock phrases. The fact that you’re enthusiastic and hardworking should go without saying, so there’s really no need to use up valuable document space with these generic terms.
For a professional resume, using formal and complex language can seem like the obvious thing to do. But career experts will recommend avoiding overly complicated language. Using unnecessarily long words to describe your achievements and skills can actually distract from them, so using simple, uncomplicated English can help you get across your point more clearly.
Also try to avoid negative-sounding words, even if they’re intended to say something positive. This could be describing the ways you overcame something ‘difficult’ or a time when you dealt with a ‘problem’. Try to rephrase statements using negative words with more confident, affirmative language.
Reinforce skills with evidence
Being able to effectively describe your most relevant skills is all well and good, but you’ll get the most impact if you back up these claims with accomplishments you’ve made. This goes for both hard and soft skills. For example, don’t just say that you’re ‘results-driven’ without mentioning any actual results your work has had. As we said earlier, representing these with quantifiable numbers where possible is one of the most effective ways to make your success stand out from other candidate resumes.
This also goes for describing your work experience. Instead of simply listing the job duties and responsibilities you were tasked with in previous jobs, frame it in a more assertive way by describing what you actually did. This way, you’ll be putting the focus on your capabilities rather than what was expected of you in previous positions.
Now that you’ve read all the top tips discussed here, you’ll know how to make your resume stand out for your next job application.