4 Easy Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out in a Crowd

by Rich DeMatteo on March 8, 2012 · 17 comments

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Kyle Henderick is a digital marketing specialist at Yesmail and a Managing Partner/Resume Consultant at Dream Resume LLC. Before diving into a career of digital marketing and professional resume writing, Kyle tested the waters for his career by having 3 internships ranging from healthcare to media sales to marketing technology. Gaining valuable insight from the experience he was finally able to find and pursue his true passion. He loves all things Chicago and is a diehard Bears, Bulls, White Sox & U of Illinois fan. Connect with him on Twitter at @khenderick

 

Ok, let’s be honest, no matter what anyone says and how important resumes are, it does NOT make them any bit of fun to put them together. The worst part is while you put a lot of time and effort into creating a resume that truly represents you on paper, unfortunately you do not have a lot of time to make an impression on recruiters reading your resume. That is why you need to hone in on what you want out of your career and focus your resume around your personal strengths and goals. After you have locked down and nailed the job search tips and resume writing basics, here are 4 easy ways to enhance your resume and make it stand out in a crowd.

1.     Understand the job role first, then tailor your resume to it

When writing a resume typically people try to create a one size fits all version to send to any and every company they are applying to. Now imagine you are the recruiter sifting through a stack of resumes on your desk, do you think you’d pick the non tailored/generic resume? Before you begin writing your resume read the description of the role to figure out what personality traits are essential and what the company is looking for in a candidate.  After you find this, you can tailor your resume around these strengths and back it up with some of your real world experience. This will automatically put you a step ahead of other applicants who still stick to the one size fits all strategy.

2.     Forget about length, focus on clarity and a clean layout

People consistently ask me whether or not their resume should be narrowed down and limited to one page. I tend to agree with a previous post written on Corn on the Job, ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it.’ In my experience, recruiters tend to focus on readability and clarity more than they do overall length, so as long as every point you are making on your resume has a direct strength and goal attached to it, it needs to be included. What is more important than length when writing your resume is ensuring that you have a clean, clear and easy to read layout. Recruiters have a tough task of getting through more resumes than you can imagine every day, the easier you make their life and the better they can identify your strengths, the more likely you will be receiving that interview call.

3.     Reinforce your experience with specific and meaningful numbers

Whenever possible include specific numbers and results that reinforce your experience and highlight strengths.  This can range from results from a project to the number of people on the team (more people means it was typically a tougher project to manage). These specific numbers help to quantify your previous experience in ways that become a more telling story of you as a person. The more specific you make the description in the resume the better. For example, if you are referencing a website implementation you might say “Facilitated X team members over a  Y month period  to lead a website redesign and content production process, final result led to increased website traffic of Z%.’ When you backup your experience with specific numbers, it will show your benefit to the company you are applying to and will help ensure your resume won’t be tossed aside.

 4.     Use activities outside of work to fill gaps in your experience

No matter your experience level, there is always potential to run into a role that exposes a few gaps on your resume that your professional experience just doesn’t cover. This is a perfect time to use activities outside of work to fill these gaps while highlighting dedication to your personal development outside of work.  It is easy to work and be dedicated when you are getting paid, it is completely different take the lead and show passion during your free time.  These out of work activities allow you to showcase soft skills and qualities that you may not have been given the opportunity to show off in your professional experience. This is often common with young professionals early in their career when trying to define leadership. It is a hard quality to prove if you aren’t directing a team, and in your outside activities you can showcase how you led a club, group or organization to achieve their goal.

While everyone’s resume will have a different story to tell, using these 4 strategies will help make your resume stand out from the crowd.  These are just a few easy ways to help have your resume stand out, what are you doing now to differentiate your resume from the pack?

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6 comments
Jose Sanchez
Jose Sanchez

I completely agree with point 2 regarding the length of the resume. The 2-3 page resume proposed by many experts is a stereotype which should be ignored. It's a better idea to focus your efforts in readability and don't forget the details that can make you stand out from the crowd. 

 

Regards.

 

Jose Sanchez

http://www.resumetemplates.org/blog/

Peanutlee33
Peanutlee33

Very informative, and some newer tidbits I wasn't aware of. There are several factors here that some of the local job workshops don't tell you about. Many thanks for sharing :)

Mike Sunderlin
Mike Sunderlin

Very informative. I'm going to implement your tips and modify my resume. I am currently changing careers and have a lot of gaps in my professional experience. I have done freelance work outside of my jobs. How would I include this on my resume?

Doug Janssen
Doug Janssen

Great points, Kyle. I especially love your third point about using numbers. They are great for telling a story and can make your resume stand out, especially for finance and sales positions. Thanks for sharing! Doug

Kyle Henderick
Kyle Henderick

Glad to see you enjoyed the read and found it of use! :)

Kyle Henderick
Kyle Henderick

Hey Mike, Apologies I missed this comment earlier, hopefully I caught it in time. There are 2 different approaches to getting freelance work on your resume. 1. Depending on how strong you feel it is, you can include it in the body as an actual position. This allows you to add a major focus on the accomplishments within the work. 2. You can add a section called 'Key Projects' (or something along those lines) at the bottom of your resume underneath the 'Activities' section. This will not provide as much of a focus, but will still allow you to showcase these skills on your resume. Hope that helps, again apologies for the delay.

Kyle Henderick
Kyle Henderick

Thanks for the kind feedback Doug! I couldn't agree more, specific numbers are essential in telling your full story and a lot of times people often leave them off the resume of forget to include them.

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