6 Tips for Writing a Resume that Stands Out
The application process can be a long and arduous process. You may find yourself on auto-pilot, scanning through job advertisements, sending one general resume to any job ad that sounds remotely interesting to you. While you may be casting a wide net, you aren’t utilizing your resources efficiently. I’m here to provide you with tips to help your resume get noticed by a hiring manager.
1. Tailor your resume to the job advertisement.
You should always tailor your resume to highlight the skills, duties, and accomplishments from your previous or current employer(s) that most closely align with those of the job for which you are applying. Focus on the keywords in the job ad and construct your content in your resume so it mirrors the desired experience. Many companies utilize Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that have the capability to scan resumes for keywords and phrases. Mirroring the language used in the job advertisement can help your resume beat the ATS software and gives you a better chance of a hiring manager reviewing your submitted resume. Although it may sound like more work, your odds are much better sending 10 tailored resumes than 100 generic resumes.
2. Limit your resume to 1-2 pages.
Resume length is and probably always will be a debated topic. A recent college graduate would likely have a one-page resume that gives a recruiter all of the information they need to make a hiring decision for an entry level position. A more experienced professional may have difficulty narrowing down their years of experience to a single page, which is where I would recommend utilizing up to two pages for your resumes. Limiting your resume to 2 pages allows you to include 5-7 of the most critical job duties you have had in your previous roles. An added benefit to the extra page is space to include more of the keywords that would be picked up through an ATS, giving the applicant’s resume a better chance to be reviewed for consideration. A resume longer than 2 pages, with the exception of federal resumes, generally are less likely to be reviewed in depth by hiring managers.
3. Identify accomplishments, not just job duties.
Be sure to highlight anything you did that positively impacted your employer. Did you review vendor proposals to find a solution that would save the company money? Were you recognized by your company for any award or by any professional organizations for your work? These are important statements to include in your resume that show the hiring manager that not only can you accomplish tasks, but you can solve problems or satisfy a need within their company. These can be part of your own individual work or a team effort you were involved in, just be sure that you avoid exaggerating your involvement or the impact as falsification can lead to awkward interview situations or serious employment consequences.
4. Quantify your work whenever possible.
Can you translate your work into quantifiable outcomes a hiring manager can easily understand? Statements like “reduced turnover by 30%”, “increased ROI by 20%”, “re-vamped a process that reduced time and resources allocated to the project that saved the company $X in the next quarter” are eye-catching and stand out to a hiring manager. These actions may trigger the hiring manager to think of problems within the organization that an applicant like you may be able to solve within their organization. It may even prompt them to invite you in for an interview to learn more about how you accomplished these outcomes.
5. Use a format appropriate to your industry.
A resume for a Creative Director and a Registered Nurse will likely look very different. Do research about the industry in which you are applying before spending your time and resources creating a resume with a lot of color or out-of-the-box formatting. Yes- you want to stand out, but for the right reasons. A hiring manager will scan a resume in 25 seconds and determine whether or not they want to read more. It’s also important to consider that most ATS systems have difficulty detecting varied formatting, so sticking with a more basic layout with easy-to-read font may not only help a hiring manager scan your resume quickly, but it could also lead to more favorable results when scanned by an ATS.
6. Proofread your resume before you hit submit.
You’ve spent the time tailoring your resume and showcasing all of your skills and accomplishments, be sure to proofread your resume before you hit submit. I can’t tell you how many times I reviewed resumes that had obvious spelling or formatting errors that could have been avoided if the candidate used spellcheck or spent 30 seconds looking over their resume. Another blaring error I saw more frequently than I should have was applicants who wrote objectives that included the company or position they were applying to fill; however, they included the WRONG job title or even worse, the WRONG company name. This gives the impression to the hiring manager that the applicant lacks basic attention to detail and would be cause for concern about their performance if they were hired.