How to Make Your Resume Stand Out
Imagine your resume is sitting in a pile of 200 other resumes for the same position. How can you make your resume stand out? I am not talking about printing your resume on pink scented paper like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde! I will give you practical tips to help your resume and application stand out to hiring managers like myself.
Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out
Have a Resume
This might seem obvious but unfortunately, it’s not! When I am hiring for HSI, I typically post the job on sites like LinkedIn. These sites are making it very easy for job seekers to apply for jobs with the “Click to Apply” buttons. This process sends me, the hiring manager, a link to your generic profile on their site.
This shows me that you are only willing to put in the least amount of effort. I am looking to hire rock stars! I want people who are motivated and high performers. Sending me to your generic profile is an easy way for you to end up in the “No” pile.
I also prefer to print out the resumes of the applicants. This allows me to make notes of questions to ask and it’s easy to share with my co-workers who are participating in the interview process. Your online profile is not formatted for this. If you need help, watch our course on How to Create a Resume in our career planning library.
Personalize File Name
I typically receive hundreds of applications for each job I post. Now, imagine hundreds of Word documents all named “Resume.doc” filling my inbox. An easy way for you to accidentally be eliminated from consideration is for the hiring manager to lose the electronic file. If your filename is “Smith_Resume.doc,” your digital resume will stand out. I can simply save the file in my folder for this position. If I have to rename it, there is room for error and your resume being lost in the process.
I also suggest you include the company name so you can easily keep track of which version was sent to each company. Smith_Resume_HSI.doc. That is also a signal to me that you have customized your resume for our position. Which leads me to my next tip.
Tailor Your Resume
Every company is looking for a different kind of person that fits the corporate culture. Every job has a unique job description to describe the ideal candidate. I don’t understand how job seekers think one resume can fit every job they apply to.
An easy way to customize your resume is to create a version that I call “fully loaded.” This version may be five to six pages long. It includes every accomplishment, success story, responsibility and bullet point for every job. When you analyze the job description, you choose only the most relevant content from your fully-loaded resume. Your resume will stand out when the content more closely matches the job description.
Whether your resume is going through an Applicant Tracking System or is being reviewed by the HR recruiter, your resume will stand out if you use the same keywords on your resume that are included in the job description.
Let’s use a marketing example. Your resume states that you “manage digital marketing campaigns from inception to execution and analysis.” That sounds very impressive but the job description is looking for someone who has managed a website redesign, is an expert in SEO strategies, and running PPC campaigns. If you do not explain in more detail what “digital marketing campaigns” include, your resume may be overlooked.
Include a Cover Letter
The cover letter is slowly becoming a lost art. More and more candidates don’t submit a cover letter, even when it is requested in the job posting. So, an easy way to help your resume stand out is to include a compelling cover letter that tells more of your story and shows your personality.
Let’s use an entry-level position as an example. Everyone has a college degree, a solid GPA, similar extracurricular activities, and an internship. Now think about that pile of 200 resumes on my desk. 99% of them will not include a cover letter. If you include a cover letter and it is a good one, you will stand above the rest. This is especially important in any business position that requires strong writing skills. The cover letter gives you an immediate tool to demonstrate your writing skills.
You can view our course on cover letters in our career planning library for more information.