Unfortunately the days of making your resume stand out from the pile of other applicants just by using colored paper or a fancy font are long gone. In this age of recruiter databases and automated e-mail responses to applications, you really need to make the extra effort on your resume to ensure it stands out from the pack.
This does involve a change of mind set for many job seekers as you need to think of your resume as a strategic document. It should not just be a list of your previous work experience; it should be a marketing tool that sells you as the best applicant for the role.
The first 10 seconds that a potential employer spends looking at your resume can be pivotal in whether you receive an interview invitation. Here are just a few tips that can help your resume stand out from the pack:
Put the Most Important Information First
Don’t be afraid to break away from the standard resume format that is now decades old. The people reviewing your resume will want to make a quick decision whether to place your resume on the interview pile or not so give them the information they need as quickly as possible.
Add a Photo
Adding a photo of yourself to your resume converts you from just another faceless, unknown applicant to a real person. A photo will create a visual point of differentiation between your resume and the rest immediately. It will also make your resume, and most importantly you, much more memorable.
Tailor Your Cover Letter
Be sure to tailor your cover letter to the role and company you are applying to. Companies are placing increasing emphasis on whether an applicant not only meets the advertised job requirements but also shares the same values as the company. You can generally learn a lot about a company and the values that are important to them by looking at their website. Pay particular attention to their Mission Statement and explain in your cover letter how you can be a part of the company achieving their Mission Statement.
Use Positive Language
Your cover letter and resume should contain nothing but positive language. When talking about unfinished studies say “Still to be completed” rather than “Not completed”. When explaining a lack of experience or knowledge in a certain area of the role say “Willing and enthusiastic to learn” rather than “No relevant experience”. These seemingly small choices of wording can have a large impact on how well your resume is received.
Review and Revise
Be very critical when reviewing your resume. If possible, ask a friend or colleague to look over your resume and ask them to be as critical as possible. Ruthlessly check for spelling and grammatical errors as in some cases this could be all the reader needs to discard your resume.
We all know that first impressions count so putting the effort into creating a resume that really stands out from the pack will pay healthy dividends. Recruiters and internal Human Resources departments are typically extremely busy so do whatever you can to make your resume impressive in the short time they will have to review it.