Does it seem impossible to create a resume that stands out?
Resumes require more thought, effort and research to be competitive in today’s job market. You can’t just put information in a template and hope to catch and hold the attention of a busy recruiter. To really stand out, you need to be strategic about how you organize and prioritize information on your resume.
For example, do you put your contact information under your name on your resume? Have you ever thought about why you automatically do that? It’s because everyone does it and most resume templates are set up this way. Also, look at the large amount of wasted white space above the name.
If you’re leading with your contact information on your resume, you’re squandering an opportunity to make your resume stand out because you’re wasting the most valuable real estate on your resume (the top) on less important information.
Because of technology, the employer already knows how to contact you if they are reading your resume...unless you’re one of those people that uses a stealthy ninja to deliver your resume to the hiring manager’s desk after the building is closed.
Instead, consider putting something under your name that is going to catch the resume reader’s attention and entice him or her to keep reading since recruiters spend eight seconds or less scanning a resume before making a judgement.
If you have key qualifications that match the requirements listed in the job posting, consider putting a few of those under your name instead (like in the example below). This strategy helps encourage the resume reader to invest a little more time on your resume because you made it easy for him or her to quickly see that you meet some of the important requirements at minimum.
This is a simple yet highly effective strategy can help make your resume stand out, especially if your audience is a busy recruiter that has to go through hundreds of resumes. The more important the information is to the resume reader, the closer it should be to the top of your resume so he or she has to do as little work as possible to find it.
To learn the rest of my resume secrets, check out my best-selling books, The Common Sense Resume, and Resumes Made Simple.
1. You didn't plan your resume.
Writing a resume takes effort, research, planning, and an understanding of how the hiring pipeline, the system that employers use to manage the recruiting and hiring process, works. You need to tailor your resume to every single job you apply for in order to come across as the best candidate.
To tailor your resume effectively, you need to:
If your resume reads like all of the other candidates' resumes, how do you expect it to stand out? Many resumes fall flat because people use the same robotic language to present their experience in the same, old repetitive way:
3. Your resume lists more responsibilities than accomplishments.
Recruiters and hiring managers know that certain core responsibilities are associated with job titles. If your resume reads exactly like the job description, it won't go very far. When possible, qualify a core responsibility with a related accomplishment like in the example below.
4. Your resume is full of dense paragraphs.
Recruiters and hiring managers don't have time to read your resume word-for-word. Instead, they skim and scan until they find what they are looking for or something interesting catches their attention. Dense paragraphs of text like what you see below are much harder to read than clear and concise bullet points. On average, recruiters spend eight to ten seconds scanning a resume before making a decision.
5. Your resume has irrelevant information.
A finely tuned one-page resume filled with relevant experience and skills will create a much better impression than every single detail of your work history. Employers are interested in your most current experience (within the last couple of years) and much less interested in previous experience and your career objectives.
If you put important skills or experience on a second or third page, they won't be taken into consideration when your resume is initially considered. If recruiters don't see what they want to see on the first page of your resume, they are not going to dig through a second or third page to find what they're looking for because they are busy and have potentially dozens of other resumes to consider.
You need to present meaningful connections between your experience and the job you're applying for in a simple and organized way. Don't expect your resume readers to work hard to make the connection on their own.
6. It describes you in subjective terms.
The biggest gap in the hiring process is knowing that candidates and employers mean the same thing on paper. You can say that you have great customer service skills on your resume, but how can employers really trust that your self-assessment is accurate unless you qualify it up with facts or context? Qualify soft skills with specific details to make your resume stand out.
I had the opportunity to interview a top recruiter in Denver. Read what she had to say about resumes.
What excites you about a resume?
There are a lot of things that can make a resume stand out, but I think what I notice most is when someone’s skills align well with the skills mentioned in a posting. This can take effort on the candidate’s end because a lot of times it involves tailoring several resumes for specific jobs, but, ultimately, it will get you noticed.
What turns you off to a resume/candidate?
Nothing is more frustrating than looking at a resume that has off margins, different fonts, and no dates. Contrary to what people tell you, hiring managers DO look at resumes, and delivering a well put together resume is essential. Talking to candidates who come off as arrogant and overly focused on money is all a big turnoff. People want to work with people they like, and if you act like a jerk or a know it all, people aren’t going to want to work with you. There is a lot of good talent in this market; having the hard skills isn’t enough anymore.
What are the top 1-2 things job seekers can do to make their resume stand out?
It sounds crazy, but just making sure there are no spelling or formatting errors is huge. Also, giving good examples of responsibilities and specific technologies used during positions gives candidates more credibility. When someone is very vague about technology or projects they worked on, I begin to question how involved they actually were. Nothing too crazy, but 4-5 bullet points with good worthwhile content will get you noticed, especially when it’s relatable to the job they are seeking.
I went undercover at a job fair to figure out what you should know before signing up for one.
1. Go to the job fair early. Job fairs get busier around lunch time because many people have to work.
2. Have a 2-minute overview ready. When you go to a job fair, recruiters will ask you to give a 2-minute overview of yourself after you sit down.
3. Smile. Recruiters are looking for people that smile and are friendly.
4. Recruiters don’t care about your schooling. They’re looking for people who are dressed professionally, have good communication skills and give out a positive vibe.
5. Use professional resume paper. It will make you stand out because 99.9% of people use cheap copy paper.
6. Your resume is only a point of reference. You need to bring copies of your resume. However, recruiters are judging you on how you present the information on your resume in person.
7. The biggest mistake you can make is not being knowledgeable about the company you’re interviewing with. Research the companies represented at the job fair in advance.
8. Be open-minded. Some recruiters may be leaving their companies soon and will be recruiting for other positions. Even if you’re not interested in a position or company, don’t be afraid to reach out and make a connection with each recruiter.
9. Don’t be nervous. Recruiters at job fairs are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and have great people skills. Their job is to make a great impression on you!
10. Be prepared for these questions: What brings you out? Where do you work now? What are you looking for?
During the interview, the recruiter will take notes on your resume like “nervous” or “great vibe.” After the interview, the recruiter will send your resume to someone else in their company to judge it without actually meeting you. If the company wants to move forward, expect to continue the interview process soon after the job fair.
Have you applied for jobs that you are qualified for, but you never heard anything back from the employer? Did you wonder if they even saw you resume?
Here's why you're not getting any callbacks.
1. You're resume doesn't show how your experience is a good match for a job fast enough.
Recruiters are experts at scanning resumes. They spend less than 10 seconds reading a resume before making a decision to interview someone. Your resume needs to quickly show how you meet the basic job requirements to be effective in today's job market.
For best results, you need to be able to anticipate what recruiters are looking for in your resume and in what order so you can organize and emphasize information in your resume according to their needs. To learn how to do this, watch my free online training on how to create a resume that employers can't resist.
2. Another applicant has better quality experience.
If another candidate has worked for larger companies, has worked in a more relevant industry or type of company, or has explained his accomplishments more effectively on his resume, employers will choose him over you.
3. You waited too long to apply for a job.
The longer you wait to apply for a job, the larger the candidate pool is going to be (larger candidate pool = more competition). For best results, apply for a job within three days of it being posted.
4. You live more than 25 miles away from the job location.
One of the main filters that recruiters use to rank candidates is location. They prefer to look at candidates that are in a 25-mile radius of the job location. If you live more than 25 miles away from a company, you may never be considered for a job no matter how good your resume is.
5. You didn't include the right combination of keywords in your resume and application.
In order to get your resume past the applicant tracking system (i.e., the screening software), it needs to have the right combination of keywords because recruiters use keywords to search, filter, and rank candidates. To learn how to anticipate what keywords need to be in your resume, read this free chapter from Resumes Made Simple.
6. You don't meet enough of the basic requirements.
If you don't meet at least some of the basic job requirements outlined in the job posting, the rest of your experience is meaningless. Employers want to hire people who don't need much training and can hit the ground running, which is how they come up with the list of requirements embedded in the job posting.
Do you wish there was a way to bypass the online application process and send your resume directly to a recruiter? If you're in the market for a new job, set aside a few minutes to scroll through your LinkedIn news to discover job opportunities.
For best results, spend 5-10 minutes scrolling through your news feed each day. While you may have to wade through a lot of irrelevant information, you will find job posts that encourage you to directly contact the recruiter (see example below). Keep in mind that the larger your LinkedIn network is, the more opportunities you will be exposed to.