How do you make your resume stand out when there are literally hundreds of applicants? Most hiring managers agree that there are certain characteristics of winning resumes. The resumes that encourage further discussion, an interview or a job offer, incorporate many of these characteristics. Learn what those characteristics are so that you can sell yourself as unique and create a resume that will stand out from the crowd.
Learn the Lingo
Many job applications are electronic these days, so you must account for that. Research your industry and analyze the job position closely for industry “buzz words,” then work a few of those words into the body of both your resume and cover letter. The software that reviews and filters resumes when they are submitted will select your resume as more relevant and move it to the top of the pile. Be careful to not overuse the keywords, though, as employers and hiring managers know that savvy applicants will know to use them. Overusing them can give the wrong impression and, in the end, can work against you. The best rule of thumb is to use one industry word every few sentences or so. You can find out what the industry words are by going to the company’s website or researching online.
Customize the Resume to the Job
It is acceptable to use the same resume to apply for similar jobs, but you should avoid sending the exact same resume out. In other words, tweak each one slightly so that it is specific to the job that is being applied for. Include all of the accomplishments and skills that are relevant to that particular job and opt to leave those that are least relevant out (especially if you need the space). Experience that is decades old, unless it is directly relevant, should be removed, as listing something more than 10 years old can work against you as well.
Avoid Cute Graphics or Fancy Fonts
Hiring managers and human resources departments do not have time to deal with resumes that are difficult to read with fancy fonts, garish colors or cute graphics in the corner. The best resumes are printed on high quality paper, using standard fonts and black ink. Many new to the job search will attempt to use ornate fonts or colored inks in order to catch attention. Unfortunately, it catches the wrong kind of attention and sends the wrong kind of message. Where resumes are concerned, just the relevant facts are required. Remember, the entire purpose of a resume is to encourage the human resources manager to call you in for a face-to-face interview.
Make Sure There are No Mistakes
Resumes can stand out for good reasons and they can equally stand out for bad reasons. Making simple spelling mistakes or using poor grammar in a resume usually signals laziness to the interviewer. This is why it is crucial to make sure your resume is error free and that the most important information, as it pertains to the position, are listed early in the resume.
Quantifiable results speak volumes to hiring managers. Showing specifically how you kept costs down, the percentage growth you brought to a project or any other achievement that can be quantified using numbers, is resume gold. This is because most human resources managers know that past performance is often a very good indicator of future results. Most human resources managers have a rough understanding of most job titles, but where many resumes fall flat is on the job description portion. What the hiring manager most wants to know is how you contributed in a meaningful way in this position. A good rule of thumb is to go back through your resume and count the number of percent (%) or dollar signs ($) that you have, then make a point of revising and doubling those.
Use bullets whenever possible, in combination with the numbers or percentages because they make information easier to digest for the reader. Plus, the bullets call attention to the accomplishments. Above all else, your resume should be reader friendly.
Create a Dynamic Objective Statement
Objective statements are sometimes the hardest part of the resume to write. It is difficult because most job applicants make them too long. Instead of a very long, descriptive paragraph following a header, try condensing everything into an executive statement of a line or two. The objective statement is a preview of coming attractions and should include what you want the hiring manager to know most.
Clean Up Your Social Media
While it is not part of your resume, so to speak, most interviewers, if they are seriously considering you, will view your social media. LinkedIn, specifically, is geared toward business and often recruiters will flip through LinkedIn rather than post a job position. Make sure your social media is not presenting an alternate view of you, and if you are in the job market consider toning down other social media sites as well. Resumes uploaded to LinkedIn should match your current resume. It is all too easy to forget to keep that current. You can also post your portfolio to your profile there, increasing the visibility of your resume.