How To Make Your Resume Stand Out

These proven tips will get you – and your resume – noticed by employers.

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Five top tips for creating a great résumé

As it stands, there are currently at least 3 million unfilled jobs and 11.8 million unemployed workers in the US. Competition in the job market is at an all-time high and, according to Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, there are three people seeking employment for every one job opening that is posted.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the length of a typical job search is around 16.9 weeks.

With the odds stacked against you and time being of the essence, it’s really important to know how to successfully sell yourself to your potential employer. One significant way to do this is through your résumé: one of the most important tools in the job application process. Look at it as the main catalyst for securing interviews and getting yourself noticed.

So how can you give yourself the best odds at snagging an interview and getting an opportunity to seal the deal in person?

Here are five résumé tips to help yours rise to the top of the (very tall) pile:

1. Keep it concise

Hiring managers don't need your life story; they receive tons of résumés and job applications on a regular basis, so they only want to see the most relevant information about you that’s going to be applicable for the job at hand.

Whether you're sending printed copies or PDFs, ensure that your résumé is as concise as possible. Some hiring managers have confessed to throwing away anything they receive that's stapled, paper-clipped, or longer than a page.

Fred Coon, CEO at Stewart, Cooper & Coon, thinks that one of the most important things to look for on a résumé is your target-driven accomplishments: “Include numbers, numbers, and more numbers that demonstrate your efforts and hard work have actually generated results.”

In addition to a brief job history, always opt for bullet points and lists over paragraphs when describing your qualifications and achievements. You want your most marketable and relevant skills noticeable at a glance. With this being said, it’s good practice to create several versions of your résumé for specific jobs you are applying for. This allows you to tailor your skills and experience to each company or role that you’re interested in.


2. Have fun with formatting

Keeping it brief doesn't mean your résumé can't reflect who you are. Depending on the type of job you're seeking, a custom design that goes beyond the buttoned-up, linear format could be the perfect way to get your résumé noticed.

Whether it's with your choice of typeface (no Comic Sans, please), a sleek layout, or colorful word choice, don't be afraid to add a little flair. Show just the right amount of your personality but make sure that you keep it professional.

You can download free résumé templates from hloom.com or, alternatively, browse some more creative templates on CreativeMarket.com.

The infographic résumé has grown in popularity in the past few years. If you're applying for a job in marketing, social media, or design, an infographic that describes your skills and qualifications might be a fantastic attention-grabber.

Further to this, creating a short video to introduce yourself and your skills is also becoming popular – just make sure that the video quality and editing is up to scratch. Try this TotalJobs.com resource to get some tips for creating a résumé video.

3. Pair it with a complementary cover letter

Use your cover letter as your initial opportunity to knock a hiring manager's socks off. Do more than recap what's on your résumé; highlight some of your proudest professional accomplishments to date, provide an insight into who you are as an employee, and really delve into the unique skills that you can bring to the job.

Even if you're sending a simple email to accompany your résumé attachment, don't underestimate the power a cover letter can have on the first impression you make.

James Kemper, President of WH Meanor & Associates, thinks it’s important to tailor your cover letter to the company:

“The cover letter needs to highlight the résumé and give more detail to the bullet points listed so it reinforces experience and qualifications. You also want to do a bit of research on the company to match experience and skills to the job in question. The cover letter is the introductory step that shows why you're their ideal candidate.”


4. Extend your footprint

Go beyond the single-page résumé – there are so many tools at your disposal. There are plenty of online services out there that will help you create beautifully visual and interactive versions of your résumé: About.me, for example, is a free option that creates a mini-site all about you.

You may also opt to create a website focused on your job search or professional skills. WordPress and Squarespace both offer low-cost website templates that make it simple to set one up.

In addition to a static website, blogs can be a simple way to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, provided that you're a decent writer with something to say — and can commit to updating it at least semi-frequently.

5. Leverage social media

Many hiring managers will be looking for you online, from your LinkedIn profile to a Google search for any other extra information or "dirt" they can dig up after receiving your job application.

Social media is also useful for you to look for online vacancies: on average, 79% of job seekers use social media in their job search and 45% use their mobile devices to search for jobs at least once every day.

First, your LinkedIn profile: Is it up to date? Have you included industry keywords in your headline and a summary to ensure your profile is search engine optimized (SEO)?

Check that your work history is current and that your profile headline and summary are adjusted for the type of work you're looking for. If your SEO skills are really sharp, you may even attract recruiters and hiring managers for jobs you haven't applied for yet.

It’s also important to choose a professional photo for your profile: a clear headshot with a simplistic background is usually a good start. If you need any more guidance, follow these steps to create a powerful LinkedIn page.

Secondly, make sure there is nothing too embarrassing or incriminating out there on social media that is accessible to the public. Those pictures from Spring Break 2008 may seem like fond memories to look back on, but your future employer could well think otherwise.

This is more important than you might realize, as more than a third of hiring managers immediately screen out candidates based on what they found on their social networking profiles.

Overall, it’s vital to ensure that your résumé stands out for all of the right reasons. This means really going that extra mile to make a good impression on your future employer by thoroughly researching the company you’re applying to first and adapting it accordingly.

Adam Hatch, career expert at ResumeGenius.com, said: “Many applicants attempt a "shotgun approach" to job seeking – they make a general, watered-down CV and send it to as many companies as possible, always opening with, "to whom it may concern."

CVs not tailored to a specific organization tend to wind up in the round filing cabinet, so while it seems like a time-saving strategy, it ends up working against applicants.”

We created some spoof résumés for our favorite characters from Star Trek – take a look here and let us know what you think.

What are some of your top tips for creating a great résumé? Get in touch on Twitter at
@AdeccoUSA.

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