Imagine you are vying for a great position against 50 other equally qualified applicants (not far-fetched in today’s job market). Now imagine your resume is at the bottom of the stack, only to be given a recruiter’s 10-second glance after hours of scanning resumes. Does your resume blend in with the rest or does it shout “READ ME”?
To get noticed your resume must be brief yet illustrative, professional yet unique, interesting yet organized.
Striking this balance is truly an art, one which professional resume writers strive to achieve with each resume they write.
Though it is often difficult for people to write their own resumes, there are some simple ways to make your resume immediately jump off the page and stand out among a sea of competitors.
Leave Enough White Space (Unused Space)
Open any magazine and look at the advertisements. The world’s top brands have the simplest ads with lots of white space. So, take note and remember less is more. Don’t think cramming everything you have onto one page will make your resume more appealing. Too much text on one page just looks crowded and unprofessional. Widen your margins, break up long paragraphs, and edit down unnecessary wording.
Use Symbols to Make Figures Stand Out
The eye is always drawn to symbols, so using $, #, % and so forth will make the reader’s eye jump straight to it. What looks more eye-catching: “Achieved number one district sales positioning” or “Achieved #1 district sales positioning”? Not only does it save valuable space, this small change adds interest.
Break Paragraphs Into Bullets
After hours of scanning resumes, plain blocks of text are almost unbearable for hiring managers to read. So, separate your thoughts and put them into bullets. If your resume contains a single paragraph that addresses your managerial skills, computer skills, and accounting skills, break those up into three bullets containing one to two sentences each.
Use Applicable Keywords from the Job Posting
There is a good chance the person reading your resume is looking for very specific skills and keywords. Does the job require a specific number of years in the field, knowledge of a specific software, or ability to travel? Address these requirements from the get-go and get their attention. Don’t expect them to dig for it!
Use Action Words
For people writing their own resumes, it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming the person reading your resume knows exactly what you did in previous jobs and how fantastic you are. You are still just a piece of paper to them at this point. It is the job of the words you choose to paint your picture for them – so use the most impactful words you can!
This is especially important for verbs you use in your work history. For example, words that explain a “doer” (e.g. completed, assisted, managed, handled, worked with, etc.) don’t make a hiring manager care to read further. However, words that explain an “achiever” (e.g. led, accomplished, drove, increased, directed, etc.) tell a hiring manager you can deliver and make them want to know more about you.
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Hiring managers and recruiters see many resumes in a day, most of which are almost exactly the same – objective, summary of qualifications, work history, education, etc. In order to pass the 10-second glance, your resume must stand out among the many other equally qualified candidates. Starting with the tips above, your resume immediately has a better chance at getting noticed.