How to Make Your Resume Stand Out: 6 Essential Tips

Black woman writing her resume at home
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Overview

It can be tough to craft a resume that truly stands out from the competition. Recruiters and hiring managers may look at dozens or even hundreds of resumes in a day — and if yours doesn’t catch their attention, it will likely end up at the bottom of the pile, never to resurface. 

However, there are some things you can do to really make your application pop and help you land that dream job you’ve been looking for. With that in mind, here are a few ways to make your resume stand out: 

Add Descriptive Words to Your Title

This may seem like a simple trick, but it can have a profound effect on your resume’s effectiveness. Hiring managers are constantly deluged with applications that have generic titles, such as “Content Writer,” “IT Analyst,” or “Marketing Manager.” However, when you add just a few extra details to your main header, you may grab the recruiter’s attention. For example:

  • “Marketing Manager with AdWords Certification”
  • “Content Writer with 10 Years of Experience”
  • “IT Analyst with Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration”

This technique works because recruiters are looking for candidates that are unique, proactive, and truly interested in the position. Adding descriptive words to your title signals these very characteristics to any hiring manager that happens to come across your application. In short, this is an excellent first step to create a good resume that is distinctive and memorable.

Tailor Your Resume to Your Industry

Obviously, you’d want your resume to reflect skills and qualifications that align with your desired job’s responsibilities. However, can you think of ways in which to customize your resume to reflect not only the core knowledge but also the sensibilities of your target industry?

For example, if you are applying for a creative position, can you word the information in a way that reflects your personality (e.g., humor, irony, wit, etc.)? If you are applying for a role as a web designer, can you include web design elements in your application? If you’re applying for a role in the financial industry, is there a way to include numbers within the body of your resume?

Basically, you should look for subtle ways to demonstrate your skills and expertise within the resume itself. This will put you one step ahead of your competitors — and also give you some extra momentum if and when you are called in for an interview.

Use Keywords Found in the Original Job Description

Companies usually develop job descriptions in a very targeted manner, and they want resumes that match the listing’s verbiage. For example, many organizations actually use some kind of filtering program to scan for specific keywords. They sift out the resumes that don’t have those keywords and keep the ones that do.

What does this mean for you? It means that you should carefully study the job description for industry-specific and “personality-compatible” keywords, and then reflect those keywords back to the company in your own resume. For example, if a web design company posts a job description that includes the phrases “self-motivated starter” and “JavaScript-certified,” then look for ways to include those same phrases in the “Skills and Qualifications” section of your resume.

Not only will using these keywords help you get past many automated filtering systems; they may also catch the eye of a recruiter and move your resume to the top of his or her pile.

Use Credible References

Your list of references can either make or break your resume’s effectiveness. If you only put personal references on your resume (and especially if you only have immediate family members listed), this will raise a huge red flag for your prospective employer. Basically, you’ll lose a lot of credibility.

On the other hand, if you can list two or three professional references — or even mix it up and list several personal and professional references — then you’ll be in a much better position to impress the recruiter who’s sorting through the pile. 

Asian woman smiling at a black woman while getting feedback on her resume

Keep It Simple

There are a number of reasons why you don’t want to clutter your resume with wordy phrases, complicated formatting, or an intricate layout. For one thing, many hiring managers today access resumes on their mobile devices. This could be a problem since an exquisitely rendered application on a PC could turn into an incomprehensible jumble of conflicting elements on a smartphone.

The solution? Keep it simple! When your resume is clean and concise, hiring managers won’t have to deal with the frustrating crossover of design elements from PCs to mobile devices; and they also won’t have to sift through a lot of filler. It will be easier on you, and you can bet that your target audience will appreciate it!

Proofread Before Sending!

There’s nothing more embarrassing (and self-defeating) than sending out a resume that’s full of spelling and grammar errors. Many recruiters that catch sight of such errors quickly discard the resume and move on to another candidate. After all, if an applicant can’t be bothered to proofread his or her resume, then why would the employer believe that he’d take his job any more seriously?

Therefore, make sure that you proofread your resume before sending it out. It might even be a good idea to ask a trusted friend or hire a professional proofreader to check it for you. 

Making Your Resume Stand Out = Landing the Job You Want

It takes some time and effort to build a visually appealing and attention-grabbing resume. However, if you put in the work, your resume will stand out from the crowd — and you’ll be able to land that dream job you’ve always wanted.

If you have your resume ready to go, then be sure to check out the job listings at Lensa.com. You can start applying for jobs right away and leverage your outstanding resume to land job interviews, and ultimately job offers. With your exceptional resume in hand, you can be sure that the entire job search process will be much easier.

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