10 Tips to Stand Out and Improve Your Resume

The hardest part of getting a new job is getting the attention of the person reading through all the resumes. You know you can showcase your skills in person and demonstrate why you deserve the job, but first, you have to be able to impress on paper.

With most hiring managers receiving stacks of resumes every day, this is easier said than done. The secret is to tweak your resume so that it stands out from your peers.

Here are 10 tips to make sure the hiring manager notices your resume and calls you to schedule the interview:

1. Keep the Text Easily Scannable

As the hiring manager is scanning through the stack of resumes, you will want to make sure your resume catches their eye. However, the caveat is that it still has to look professional. There are several ways to do this.

First, you need to organize your resume in a way that isn’t too intimidating. Blocks of text seem like too much work, and the reader probably won’t even take a second glance.

However, if you use headings in a standout text, highlight key points with bullet points, and keep everything short and to the point. The reader won’t hesitate to give it a scan.

2. Make a Unique Resume for Each Job

Most hiring managers have specific skills in mind that they are looking for when they are perusing resumes. They want an experience that fits the job they have open, and your resume needs to match what they want in an applicant.

The best way to predict what they will want to see is to take a look at the job listing. If you can tweak the wording of your resume to emulate the job listing, the hiring manager will be able to see that you fit all of their requirements quickly.

If your previous experience doesn’t mirror the job listing, get creative and word it in a way that emphasizes the skills that will be transferable to the new position.

3. Use Industry Keywords Strategically

Some companies don’t even have a person reading through resumes from the get-go. First, your resume might be scanned through their software to look for particular industry keywords.

If your resume doesn’t have these keywords, it’s likely no one will even look at it. Again, if you are unsure what keywords to use, study the job listing for what phrases or words you think are the most relevant.

4. Skip Responsibilities and Focus on Accomplishments

The fact is that most hiring managers are well aware of what general responsibilities you had as a sales manager, clerk, or any other job that is out there.

What they want to see is what you accomplished at this job. So instead of giving a generic description pointing out what you did on the daily, focus on the impact you had in this role.

Depending on the job, this could include the time it took you to complete a task, the number of jobs you could perform in a given time, performance rankings, and customer satisfaction results.

For example, instead of saying “made cold calls,” you could emphasize that you “outperformed your peers by earning a 25% connection rate on your daily calls to C-level professionals.”

Focus on facts and stats and leave off any common knowledge.

5. Highlight Your Most Impressive Achievements

Most resumes include a summary statement to help hiring managers to learn about you. But most job seekers waste this space on overused words, such as excellent communicator, hard worker, and a quick learner.

These words are so overused that you may as well leave this spot blank. Instead, capitalize on this critical real estate by providing the most impressive highlights of your achievements.

6. Leave Off Irrelevant Information

When creating a resume, the key thing to keep in mind is that you have seconds to capture the hiring manager’s attention. So, it is essential to try to keep your resume to one page. To accomplish this, you need to edit the information you include.

Make sure only to list job experience that is relevant to the position for which you are applying. Nobody cares if your first job was at the movie theater or if you worked as a waiter through college. Make sure every single word on your resume contributes to the cause.

7. Put Colors to Work

The psychology of colors can make a significant impact on your resume. For one, using color at all will make your resume stand out amongst the sea of black and white.

But more importantly, if you use the right colors, you can sway the mind of the hiring manager without them even realizing it. You can use darker blue accents to demonstrate your honesty, loyalty, and approachability, while red will showcase your passion and excitability.

If you do incorporate color, make sure you use it discreetly, like with lines to separate the sections, a border, a decorative accent by your name, or as the paper color.

8. Include a Custom Cover Letter

Another surefire way to make your resume stand out is with a succinct cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to shine and let the hiring manager know precisely why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

Make sure you create a new cover letter for each job you apply for that directly addresses the requirements in the job listing and explains why these are your areas of expertise.

Take the time to research the company and see what qualities and skill-sets are the most important to them and highlight them in your cover letter.

9. Proofread Twice Before Sending

This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people send out resumes and cover letters without even giving them a proofread. Ideally, you would do two revisions.

One when you finish it and another a few hours later with fresh eyes. If a potential employer sees typos and grammar mistakes on your resume, then you just wasted your time applying.

10. Save as a PDF

If you are sending your resume digitally, never send the word processing document. You never know how the reader’s computer is going to change the formatting when they open it up, and you don’t want anyone being able to edit it. Instead, save your resume and cover letter as a PDF.

When you send a PDF file, it is guaranteed to look clean no matter who opens it and what software they use—and it makes you look like the professional that you are.

In most instances, your resume is the only way to get an interview, so if you are serious about your job search, you need to put the time and effort into creating a standout resume. While it may seem monotonous and tedious, once you have your dream job, you will be glad you invested the time.

Written By
Mark Strong, the owner and CEO of Mark Strong Coaching & Training is a highly sought-after coach and trainer. Since 2004, he has worked with both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to provide them with the actionable tools they need maximize opportunities, improve productivity, and increase profits.

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