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Don’t Be a Needle in a Haystack – Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out


The point of your resume is not to land you the job — it’s to land you the interview. Think of it as a first date — it sells you well and creates enough interest for the hiring manager to want to learn more about you.

On average, hiring managers look at each resume for six seconds. This may scare you. But armed with this knowledge, you can use it to your advantage by having a succinct and eye-catching resume.

A Classy, Professional Typeface
Times New Roman. Yawn. There are thousands of typefaces out there, so why not break the mold? Pick one that is legible, credible, and has some personality. As part of design 101, avoid Comic Sans at all costs.

Because you already know to send your resume as a PDF and never a Word document (unless they request it), it won’t matter if the hiring manager has a specific typeface loaded onto her computer.

An Easy, Impressive Read
Make your resume readable by having:

  • 10-point typeface at minimum
  • Standard margin of 1.5 inches around all borders
  • Black ink
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Clear organization, either chronologically or by relevant skills
  • Bullet points for easy scanning
  • Zero grammatical errors (Always have a friend proofread. You’d be surprised what a second set of eyes can pick up!)

Results not Actions
There are many, many job seekers who are not very good at their current jobs. People can hide their lackluster results by highlighting what they did, not what they achieved.

Don’t say you managed a team of three. Tell us you trained and motivated a team of three to produce an award-winning creative campaign, to the best sales quarter of the decade, to finishing a project two weeks ahead of deadline, etc.

Numbers Are Concrete
Numbers are strongly tied to results and should be used whenever possible. Examples:

  • Attracted four new clients in three months
  • Lifted conference attendance by 120 percent
  • Crafted a new advertising campaign that led to sales exceeding target by $220,000
  • Spoke at six conferences across two continents to raise awareness of the company
  • Had two articles published in major trade publications in the last 12 months
  • Handled an average of 37 inquiries a day
  • Processed an average of 100 invoices weekly

Use a Consistent Format
Determine one format for how you will present dates, locations, and companies. For state, don’t write out “FL” in relation to one previous employer’s location and “Florida” in another.

Customize Your Resume Each Time
This may sound time-consuming, but how badly do you want that job? Be sure to customize your resume for each job posting. This is not the time for cutting corners.

Each bullet point should show a link either to the job description of the role you’re hoping to snag, or it should demonstrate your expertise and capabilities.

A one-size-fits-all resume will yield one result: a lack of response.

More is a Bore
Does the recruiter really need to know about the internship you had for four months in 2008?

People often try to shoe horn every shred of applicable information into a resume. Instead show a solid overview of your job history, but focus on highlighting the experience that will be of direct benefit to you in the advertised role.

If you find that your resume is not getting the results you’re hoping for, don’t be afraid to try something different: a two column format, switching up your word choice, etc.

What’s Working for You
Tell us in the comments what has worked for you in making your resume stand head and shoulders above the rest.   

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