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The Top Tips on How to Make a Resume Stand Out

Resume Writing Tips

The odds of you landing a job are often better during a candidate driven labor market. However, to take full advantage of aggressive hiring you need to avoid cutting corners.   One of the most surefire ways of raising your chances of getting the job is to have a resume that stands out from the crowd. 

You don’t need to have huge public successes to build a successful resume. Often, the way you present your skills, experiences and qualifications on paper can make the biggest difference on how to make your resume stand out. 

Sales Practice Lead Brandyn Keller has over 11 years of recruiting experience. To say he’s seen a few resumes would be an understatement. He explains how to make your resume stand out from the crowd.

What is a Resume?

Simply put, a resume is a document that lists your work experiences, education, skills, and contact information. The term “resume” may often be used interchangeably with “curriculum vitae,” or CV. They’re used by employers to quickly learn your relevant experience, education, and skills to see if you’re qualified for the position. 

Why is a Resume Important? 

A resume is often the first “encounter” employers have with you, and they can learn a surprising amount from reading it. The length of time you’ve spent at a job, the education you’ve pursued, your cover letter, and even the way the resume is formatted can all give insight into your personality. First impressions matter, and that’s why it’s important to make the best possible first impression with your resume. 

“Resumes are an opportunity for a job seeker to paint a picture of their past accomplishments, while adding in their goals and intentions for the future. Recruiters, hiring managers and other decision makers’ first impression of a candidate typically comes from their resume. It is important to ensure it’s well thought out and tailored to the role and company they are targeting,” says Keller.

What Should a Resume Look Like?

Every resume will be a bit different: some people prefer to add a splash of color, some like to include a photo, and some may omit skills or references. But in general, you must list your name, contact information, work experience (each job you’ve had, how long, and a brief description), education, and a list of skills.

What to Include on a Resume

What to include on your resume will depend on your job and experience level. The resumes for a new welder and an entry-level production worker would be significantly different.

“The main difference will come from the amount of work experience an individual has. A skilled trade applicant that has finished technical school, but no on-the-job experience would want to highlight their intentions, education, projects completed and certifications ahead of their work experience in unrelated fields. These ancillary experiences are still important to show professional experience in the working world, but the educational section will be the core piece of the resume,” says Keller.

As a skilled trades worker gains experience — they can begin to emphasize the projects they’ve completed and skills they’ve added. Keller recommends a different tactic for those applying to entry-level jobs. 

“A candidate that is new to light industrial manufacturing or warehousing work will want to highlight job experiences that are transferable. If someone has worked in retail stores or the food industry in the past and they are applying for a light industrial manufacturing position — they can highlight their transferable experiences such as computer utilization, inventory, etc.,” says Keller. 

How Much Time Do Employers Spend Reading a Resume? 

According to Forbes and LinkedIn, most employers read your resume very quickly — about 6 or 7 seconds on average. Each employer’s hiring process varies, but just like meeting someone in person, you make a first impression very quickly. Therefore, it’s very important to make your resume stand out: you want yours to be the one that employers pause to take a second look at. 

“Resumes are the first impression from a candidate to a prospective employer. Hiring managers are looking for skills to meet their job requirements, but each hiring manager is truly looking for individuals they want to invest their time into,” says Keller.

How To Make a Resume Stand Out From the Rest

You only have seconds to capture the attention of a potential employer with your resume, so time is of the essence. Use these quick tips to hook them in and raise your chances at getting that job interview. 

1. Keep it short and sweet

One of the most effective ways to make your resume stand out — and easier to read — is by making it short and to the point. Leave out the high school summer jobs and college internships — it makes your resume cleaner and focuses on the relevant information. 

2. Highlight achievements and impact to your past employers

Did you learn how to operate new technology or manufacturing equipment? Have you ever helped to improve a process that was part of your job? Make sure you include this information on your resume so hiring managers and recruiters can note your progress and professionalism.  

3. Add In the correct resume keywords

Most employers use software to screen applications and resumes. Research keywords for resumes in your field and be sure to add them in — don’t let the computer screen you out. Just be mindful that the resume keywords can differ with each job, so you might need to tweak each version you send out. 

“Many companies are overwhelmed with hiring demand and have made investments in recruiting and sourcing software to prioritize applicants. This means that keywords and resumes built for specific job requirements are very important to candidates aspiring for their next role,” says Keller.

Additional Resume Writing Tips

If you follow the resume writing tips in this article, you’re already ahead of the competition. However, it’s always a good idea to have a few other sets of eyes review your resume. Ask a friend or family member or freelancer to read yours over; they can check how easy it is to read and spot any typos or errors. If your potential employer finds spelling errors or basic mistakes, it’s another reason to stop reading your resume.

Keller also offers some final advice to help improve your resume.

“A resume is a reflection of you and should be treated as such. There is no one size fits all approach, as one style of resume could never reflect each individual’s style and qualities they bring to their employer. Be intentional, tailor the resume to your audience and be yourself,” says Keller.

Ready to See if Your Resume Stands Out? 

Having a better understanding of how hiring managers read and interpret resumes will make it easier to write a resume that stands out

Once you’ve had a chance to update your resume, check out the job board to find the latest opportunities near you.