Make Your Resume Stand Out from the Crowd

You’ve probably heard that the average time a recruiter looks at each resume is a measly 6 seconds. I don’t know about you, but that would make me feel…well, desperate! What can you do to make the most of those 6 seconds?

First of all, if you’re a new college grad and don’t know what your resume should include, read this. For those not new to the workforce, keep in mind that an applicant tracking system has likely already screened out resumes that lacked the basic qualifications. This means that if someone is actually looking at your written resume, advises Marcelle Yeager of U.S. News.com, it must visually stand out with a clear message about what you have to offer.

Lily Zhang, writer for The Muse, makes a great suggestion: “In place of ‘Work Experience,’ consider customizing this section to ‘Event Planning Experience’ or ‘Editorial Experience’ — whatever is most appropriate for your skill set and the position you’re looking for. Having a keyword right in your section heading has a great branding effect on your overall resume.” For more tips from Zhang on how to make your resume stand out from the crowd, click here.

What’s one big resume mistake people make? Ruben Quintero, Medicare Broker Relations Manager, gives this warning:

People like to announce their career objective and aspirations on the top of their resume. We have been led to believe that this shows you to be a highly motivated and ambitious individual. This is a mistake. The decision maker is wasting valuable seconds reading about your career objective and may move on to the next resume. No one cares about your career objective. Nobody cares. NOBODY. The decision maker has a problem and they want the answer to just one simple question, “CAN YOU HELP ME SOLVE IT?”

Quintero recommends instead that you to replace Career Objectives with a list of your pertinent qualifications in bullet points at the top of your resume. Click here to read his complete advice.

Ryan Mann, Executive Search Consultant for Amtec, agrees that using bullet points is a great way to make your resume easy on the eyes. Bite-sized pieces of information are easier for resume screeners to digest quickly, giving you the chance to put your best foot forward in those crucial 6 seconds.

Also, if you want to keep from sounding like everyone else, avoid describing yourself with the most overused words on resumes in the past two years, according to Women’s Health:

1. Responsible
2. Strategic
3. Creative
4. Effective
5. Patient
6. Expert
7. Organizational
8. Driven
9. Innovative
10. Analytical

Another hard-to-believe tip, but one that is supported by research, is to include your middle initial when putting your name at the top of your resume. According to Jill Fanslau of Men’s Health, adding that middle initial makes people assume you’re smarter. It’s probably because people associate initials and names with certifications and degrees earned, but, hey, if researchers have found that it works, why not give it a try!

To sum it all up, says BusinessNewsDaily.com, your well-written resume will mirror the candidate described in the job posting to which you’re applying. It will use the right keywords, the right job functions, and an aesthetically pleasing format. The headings you use will draw the reader’s attention. The results and accomplishments you list will connect with the posting’s job functions, and your core skills will be rich with the right keywords.

Here’s a final great tip I heard recently to make your resume stand out from the crowd: Save your resume as a PDF before you send it. This preserves the formatting, ensuring that your resume looks the same on the hiring manager’s screen as it does on yours. (Be sure to email it to yourself to check its appearance before sending it out). As Mann admonishes, don’t let a poorly formatted resume ruin your chances of moving forward in the hiring process!

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions.

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