There is no doubt that you would make a phenomenal first impression if you had the luxury of making that impression in person. Alas, the vast majority of job applicants do not have the opportunity to introduce themselves in the flesh and will have to settle for paper instead. But just because you can’t put your literal best foot forward doesn’t mean that you can’t stand out in another way — and that’s where a stellar resume comes into play.
Needless to say, this is a tall order. The vast majority of resumes follow the same general format and seem to come from the same few templates. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t spruce up your one-page summary with a few tips. Here are 5 ways to make your resume stand out.
1. Use your resume to tell a story
Make sure that your resume tells a cohesive and cogent story about the unique applicant that you are. Rather than listing accomplishments that seem entirely unrelated to one another, you’ll want to curate your experiences so they can tell a consistent story that aligns with your desired role. That could mean highlighting certain aspects of your previous experiences or choosing verbs that stress the same set of abilities. For example, if your ultimate goal is to run a nonprofit, you may consider emphasizing experiences related to defining and executing upon a mission or vision, sourcing and managing budgets, and inspiring or leading teams.
2. Tailor your resume for the role
Not all jobs are created equal, and consequently, not all your resumes should be identical. While it may seem a bit onerous to create different versions of your resume for different roles, this extra bit of effort can not only help to show your employer that you’ve taken the time to consider precisely what they’re looking for, but can also help you better explain your story and your rationale for applying to the job.
For example, if you’re looking for a career in consulting, find opportunities to showcase your problem solving skills; you can highlight situations in which you took the initiative to fix a situation that no one else was willing to tackle, or demonstrate how you went above and beyond the purview of your responsibilities to effect change at your organization. Also worth noting are your quantitative and analytical abilities; you don’t have to have had a role as a data scientist to make this case for yourself. Rather, you can show how you were able to diagnose a problem and systematically come to a data-based solution. Finally, a consulting resume should include client-facing experiences, whether that means presentations in front of high-ranking executives at your company or other major stakeholders with whom you had a working relationship.
3. Be consistent
While it is true that most resumes look quite similar, you don’t want yours to be the one that stands out for the wrong reasons. To that end, going the extra mile to ensure that your resume is extra neat just might make your interviewer remember you a bit better.
Generally speaking, you should try to keep all bullet points to two lines at a maximum. Be sure that your punctuation remains constant; my recommendation would be to avoid periods at the ends of all lines (after all, full sentences are not necessary). Stay in the same tense (past tense is safest) throughout your resume, and to save space, use numerals rather than spelt numbers. Not only should you keep your font consistent throughout your resume, but you should also keep font sizes the same. These small details will go a long way in making you look more polished and professional.
- Try to keep all bullets to two lines
- Don’t add periods after some bullets and not after others
- Keep all font sizes the same
- Minimize the use of underlining, bolding, etc
- No colour
4. Show impact
Having an impactful resume isn’t just about using action verbs. You’ll want to quantify your contributions wherever possible and demonstrate the unique value that you add to your team. Explain what you made happen, and why it would not have happened without your efforts. Then, take things a step further, and attach a metric of success; not only will this prove that you have an analytical mind, but it will also demonstrate that you’re results-oriented.
For example, if you developed a PR plan that helped raise your company’s profile, indicate the percentage by which your press mentions grew. If you helped your company enter a new market, indicate sales projections in the first year. If you implemented a new human resources policy, explain the effects that it had on employee satisfaction, retention, and attraction. Explicating and quantifying your achievements is absolutely key to making your resume come alive and demonstrating the importance of your work. Present these points with the action first and impact second, for example:
- “Led market entry analysis, which resulted in a 20% sales increase”
- “Conducted in-depth analysis of procurement processes that resulted in 15% cost savings”
5. Don’t skimp on the fun stuff
Too often, resumes make their owners sound like robots. Even the most action-oriented, data-driven resume can begin to sound dull and cookie-cutter if there aren’t any elements of your personality embedded into the content. As such, it’s always worthwhile to complement your achievements with your hobbies.
Rather than adding “Additional Skills” at the bottom of your resume, consider having an “Other Interests” section that goes beyond Microsoft Word or SQL. Instead, tell your potential employer about your out-of-work interests; the things that you would chat about at the water cooler or on Monday mornings. It can be great fun to reach the end of a resume and find that a candidate is a fan of renaissance vocal music, bread making, or various sports. Having these tidbits will help your interviewer get a better sense of who you are as a person and a possible colleague, and can certainly enliven an interview. And if you can make your interview feel more like a conversation, suffice it to say that you’ve done the job well.
Not sure what to include in your resume? Sign up to Hiperpool today and connect with our Talent Sponsor team to receive tailored support through a career move.