To get ahead of the competition and show employers that you’re uniquely qualified for the role you want, your resume needs to do more than just list your experience — it needs to help you stand out from other candidates.
Here are eight expert tips for making your resume stand out and grab the attention of employers:
1. Add a convincing introduction to your resume
Hiring managers (especially those at larger companies) sometimes have hundreds of applications to review every day. They need to see your most relevant qualifications as soon as possible, otherwise they’ll likely skip over your application.
The best way to get their attention the instant they open your application is by starting your resume with a convincing, brief summary.
A resume summary is a concise, 1-5 sentence statement at the beginning of your resume that highlights your key relevant achievements and skills. This gives the hiring manager a clear idea of your general qualifications, and how well-suited you are for the role before they even read the rest of your resume.
Here’s an example of what a standout resume summary looks like:
Resume summaries are ideal for candidates with some work experience. However, if you’re writing a resume without experience, there are other resume introduction styles that may better highlight your qualifications (don’t worry, they’re all pretty similar):
2. Target your resume to the industry and position you want
One of the best ways to make your resume immediately stand out to employers is by customizing it for the specific position you want.
Hiring managers write job descriptions with certain skills and experience in mind, and no two job descriptions are exactly alike (even if they’re for jobs in the same industry).
So to make your resume stand out, scan through the job description and look for specific skills or traits that the hiring manager is seeking in new hires. Then, mirror this language in your resume’s experience section and skills section to show them that you have all the expertise needed to excel in the job.
While targeting your resume this way for each job you apply to can be time-consuming, it’s one of the most effective ways to pique the interest of employers and convince them you’re worth inviting in for an interview.
3. Highlight your remote-working skills
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many workplaces have permanently transitioned to full or partial remote working schedules.
Even if you don’t personally work remotely, familiarity with remote-working software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams and having the ability to work independently are highly valuable skills in today’s workplace.
When up against other candidates with similar qualifications, showing that you’re able to adapt to a remote working environment may be just what you need to make your resume stand out and convince the hiring manager to give you an interview.
4. Include relevant industry keywords
Many large companies use a type of software called an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help them filter through the hundreds of resumes they receive.
Essentially, ATS software scans your resume for industry-related keywords to determine whether you’re qualified for the job or not. If the software doesn’t find the keywords it’s looking for, it automatically rejects your application.
To find the resume keywords you need to include, read through the job description and take note of any skills mentioned in the requirements section.
Here’s an example of a job description for a with the keywords underlined:
Peppering these keywords throughout your resume gives you two advantages over other candidates.
- it makes you seem like a stand-out candidate tailored for the role
- your application will more likely get approved by ATS software and get into the hands of a hiring manager.
5. Keep things concise and clear
Two of the most common mistakes people make when writing a resume are listing every position they’ve ever held, and generally being too wordy when describing their previous roles.
Hiring managers have limited time to read through your application, and every second they spend reading filler is a second they’re not getting familiar with your skills, qualifications, and background.
To help your resume stand out, keep your writing concise and only include information that’s highly relevant to the position.
For example, if you’re applying for an office job and you already have some work experience, it’s don’t include that bartending job you worked in college.
By being concise and focusing on your recent, relevant experience, you can quickly highlight your most valuable qualifications while keeping your resume length to an easy-to-read one page — ultimately making any hiring manager’s life easier.
6. Add numbers to the bullets in your experience section
Employers love to see that you made a quantifiable impact at your previous jobs. Adding hard numbers to some of the bullet points on your resume is a great way to make your resume stand out by showing employers exactly what you achieved in real terms.
Not only that, but hard numbers give employers a clear idea of what you can achieve for them as well.
Here’s an example of how adding hard numbers to your resume can improve your bullet points and give your accomplishments more weight:
- Successfully pitched new products to clients
This bullet point states that the candidate was successful at their job, but without giving specific numbers it’s impossible for employers to know exactly how successful they were.
Now, here’s that same bullet point improved with a few specific hard numbers:
- Pitched 14 new products to clients, successfully boosting revenue by over $12,000 in 2021
7. Use a modern resume design
One way to make your resume stand out and grab the attention of employers is by updating it with a sleek new resume template.
If you’re applying for a job in more creative fields like graphic design or advertising, add some subtle splashes of color to your resume and play around with more unique resume headers.
For example, here’s what the top of a creative resume that stands out might look like:
If you’re employed in a more traditional industry like finance, go for a more confident, minimalist look (and maybe drop Times New Roman in favor of a more modern sans-serif resume font).
Here’s an example of what a more formal modern resume design looks like:
Just by updating the appearance of your resume, you can make your application stand out and leave a positive impression on employers.
8. Start each bullet point with a strong verb
Most job-seekers talk about their previous jobs using passive language like “responsible for” or “tasked with”. These kinds of phrases don’t highlight what you achieved at work, and often don’t leave employers with a lasting impression of you as a candidate.
To make your resume stand out, start each bullet point in your experience section off with a strong action verb that illustrates something you accomplished.
For example, here’s a bullet point that doesn’t use action verbs:
“Tasked with completing a full update of the website homepage”
Now, here’s that same bullet point but featuring strong action verbs:
“Spearheaded a full update of the website homepage, boosting overall impressions by 35%”
Unlike “tasked with”, “spearheaded” communicates exactly what the candidate did, and indicates that they succeeded in completing their task.
Including such words in your resume is a great way to make yourself look more proactive, and show employers exactly what you’re capable of achieving in a professional environment.