5 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out

professional skills

In a highly competitive job market, your résumé can make or break your chances to be noticed and move on to the next phase in the hiring process. Follow these five suggestions to build a résumé that will help you stand out as a big fish in a crowded sea of applicants.

The Importance of Your Résumé

While many factors, including your interview, determine whether you'll be chosen for a job, your résumé is key to getting to the next step in the hiring process. If a prospective employer is impressed by your résumé, you'll have the chance to continue on to the screening and interview phase during the candidate selection process.

#1: Tailor Your Résumé to Fit the Job Posting

You can gain an advantage over other applicants if your résumé clearly shows how well you meet the needs of your prospective employer. The key is to strategically present an honest assessment of your skills and a factual representation of your work history, organized to make it immediately obvious that you're a highly qualified candidate for the job.

Tailor your résumé to match the job.

As long as it won't leave any gaps in your work history, consider truncating older, irrelevant parts of your employment record, or removing unrelated education and experiences. For instance, if you're applying for an engineering job, you can safely leave off your teenage stint flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant.

#2: Emphasize Your Mission-Related Experience

Research the company advertising the position. Take time to get to know not just its industry, but its aims and goals. The more you familiarize yourself with the specific mission of the company, the better you can show how your skills and experience will contribute to that mission.

Rather than introducing your résumé with your career objective, make your résumé stand out by outlining the particular strengths and advantages you'll bring to the company. Try to address both the broader context of the company's mission and the specific duties and goals of the position you want.

#3: Highlight Your Ability to Learn

Employers value your existing knowledge and skills. But what they also value is your ability to learn new things. Your aptitude for learning may not only help you land a new job, but also help you advance in that job after you're hired.

There are three primary parts of your résumé where you can spotlight your learning abilities:

1) Formal and continuing education

2) Professional experience, focusing on achievements made possible by mastering a specific skill

3) Personal accomplishments, including volunteer work through which you learned new skills

#4: Use Proper Industry Terminology

In addition to featuring your soft skills, such as problem solving and creative thinking, it's essential to demonstrate career knowledge and proficiency in your résumé. However, you must detail your abilities and achievements using industry-standard terminology. Even if you have many years' experience in a certain field, a prospective employer will not take you seriously if you confuse common industry terms or use slang to describe project methodology.

Employers will notice proper terminology on your résumé.

For instance, if you want to get a job as a Web developer, try ''Used JavaScript to provide input validation for forms on company website'' rather than ''Kludged together a set of web form scripts.'' Or, if you want to write curriculum for foreign language textbooks, it would be better to say, ''Designed exercises to teach students the proper conjugation of stem-changing verbs'' instead of ''Made worksheets for kids to learn boot verbs.''

#5: Proofread and Polish

A résumé is often the first impression you'll make with a prospective employer. No matter how experienced or skilled you are, employers may not give your résumé a second glance if it's sloppy or difficult to read.

Proofread your résumé thoroughly, using your computer to help you check spelling and grammar. Don't rely on automated tools exclusively, though, as they're still not as sophisticated as a human proofreader.

Ask a trusted friend with good language skills to review your résumé and make suggestions. Polish your phrasing and word choices as you want your résumé to be clear, concise, and professional.

Confident language makes your résumé stand out.

If possible, wait a day or two from the time you initially write your résumé, then go back and look it over with fresh eyes. Take note of its aesthetic qualities, such as font choice and size or spacing, to make sure they're appropriate and present your qualifications in the best light.

Stand Out from the Crowd of Applicants

A solid, well-written résumé can help you get noticed by an employer and give you a shot at winning the position you want.

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By Michelle Baumgartner
August 2018

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