8 Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters, used under CC BY / Desaturated from original

Finding employment, let alone your dream job, is difficult. Job searchers must often apply to tens, if not hundreds, of jobs prior to earning just one interview. Applicants with lengthy work experiences, multiple degrees and certifications, and with lofty titles held often hog a majority of recruiter interest. Besides, corporate position openings receive an average of 250 resumes. Of those 250, usually only four to six applicants are selected for interviews.

As such, it's normal to feel your resume is not good enough. Other than applying for hundreds of openings, here are 8 effective strategies to making it stand out.

Resumes are living documents

Resumes are not meant to be static, unchanging from job opening to job opening. They are living — but no, your curriculum vitae should never walk and talk — documents and should be modified for different job openings. Some skills are more relevant to certain employment opportunities than others. If applying to a veterinarian's office, you may want to include formal experience you've had with animals or experiences demonstrating caring and compassion.

Conversely, when seeking employment at a computer manufacturer, animal-related or compassion-requiring experiences will likely not help your resume stick out. Modify your CV to reflect new certifications or degrees you have earned, as you leave older positions and find new ones, and — most importantly — showcase relevant skills and experiences to various employers.

Clean up your resume above the fold

In today's technological age, resumes are usually not sent in paper form. They are most often sent in digital form. When opening documents on computers, usually, at most, the first halves of the documents are viewable. Because employers often base their opinions on applicants from first impression, the upper portion of your document must look appealing to employers. Avoid labeling contact information as such; for example, do not label the city you live in as "city", or your phone number as "phone," etc.

Do not place contact information in headers. Employers often use computer software to weed out resumes not meeting various criteria, one of which is the presence of contact information. Employers must have contact information to contact you in the case of hire, and headers are usually not considered in searching for such information. Also, if you include links to professional sites such as LinkedIn, clean up the length of its URL with a link shortening tool such as bit.ly.

Ask someone to review your resume

Reach out to hiring managers or upper-level employees at companies related to fields you are applying for. It may take a few tries to locate someone willing to lend a hand, but it's well worth the effort. Getting advice from an objective third party who doesn't already know you is wholeheartedly unbiased and often highly valuable. Advice from parents, friends, or coworkers may not be as truthful as advice from those who don't personally know you.

Stretch your resume to one full page

Resumes that take up more than one page or do not fully fill a page don't look as good to employers. However, don't increase font size past 14 or 16. Find meaningful, relevant items you can include on your CV. Include times you volunteered for a cause or organization. Add any unpaid work you've done, such as maintaining personal blogs or performed freelance writing for others. Do not include instances of helping friends or family members with various tasks, as personal experiences are not valued as highly as professional experiences.

Synchronize LinkedIn with your resume

If you don't already have a LinkedIn page, go make one. If you do have one, make sure information on LinkedIn runs in concordance with that of the resume. If you recently graduated college or earned a certificate, employers may worry about the legitimacy of such claims. Also, not synchronizing the two may cause you to appear unprepared.

Avoid highly technical language

Your CV should be readable to those who view it. Don't include technical terms or jargon in those submitted to employers who may not understand them. However, you can include such terms if they are directly related to employers' fields of business.

Beefing up little to no work experience

Employers highly value work experience, no matter what field of business they operate in. Candidates with relevant work experience often beat out less experienced candidates. Even if you have no work experience, there are several ways to beef up your resume.

Make sure to add relevant skills you learned from high school, college, or extracurricular courses you have taken. Include academic projects related to potential employers' fields or showcase your skills. Writing cover letters to employers is highly recommended in every circumstance, but applicants with no work experience should always include cover letters.

Include benefits

Past experiences at work or school included on your resume should feature how they benefitted classmates and coworkers. For example, if you created custom graphics for a project, state the benefit provided to your classmates. Similarly, detail benefits of various tasks performed at work or when volunteering. Employers are interested in knowing how you add value to their business.

No matter what your situation is, these tips will help your CV stand out to employers. Explicitly detailing what you bring to employers on your professional biography yields higher chances of getting interviews. Presentation of your resume is oftentimes more important than what skills you actually bring to employers.

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