Whether intended to fulfill larger career goals, support oneself, or fulfill social expectations, employment is one of the most salient markers of success and means of socioeconomic survival in modern society there is. Of course, most reputable jobs require potential employees to submit resumes, which document their qualifications and goals. However, particularly for job postings that receive large numbers of applicants, a resume must be made to stand out and attract attention from a potential employer, who may only glance over it in a cursory fashion due to time constraints or generic content. While this can be a daunting task, particularly for those lacking experience, there are many strategies that can make resumes stand out to employers and give employees a better chance of being noticed or hired.
1. Respond Directly
The first way to make a resume stand out to an employer is to remain focused on responding to the job description directly. Hiring managers are usually looking for someone who has the specific skills and expertise to successfully perform the job and its duties as listed. As a result, a resume that gets to the point will likely demonstrate to employers that the potential employee understands what is being asked and is prepared to perform accordingly. The resume should thus be written in a parallel fashion to the job listing or description as seen on advertisements or elsewhere. If previous work experience does not directly match the role for which one is applying, the solution is to creatively frame the experience as transferable.
2. Emphasize Accomplishments
The second way to make a resume stand out to an employer is to focus on describing concrete accomplishments rather than restating responsibilities. For example, when applying for a pizza delivery job, to simply say that one delivers pizza is not enough, as that is a given expectation. Rather, one can highlight a record of timely deliveries and satisfied customers. Therefore, it is better to showcase concrete examples of how a job was performed successfully and beyond the call of duty rather than simply restating the obvious, which any applicant could do.
3. Quantify Achievements
The third way to make a resume stand out to an employer is to quantify achievements whenever possible and appropriate. Offering subjective accounts of experience can be biased and skewed in a way that overestimates one’s own ability, whereas cold hard numbers are accurate and more objective indicators of quality. Some examples include how many people have been hired, trained, or managed, what the monthly sales and budget were, and how much money the company was saved due to the employee’s work. Not only is this more accurate, it is easier to interpret for hiring managers, and thus will provide a better chance of a more timely review and response.
4. Use Summary Section Properly
The fourth way to make a resume stand out to an employer is to utilize the summary section primarily for distinguishing details. Since this section occupies the most salient, central and strategic spot in the resume format, what it states is highly important. Vague, subjective and generic self-descriptors all too often fill this section. Most of these indicate a likelihood of not possessing the traits one claims to have. So instead of using filler, it is better to showcase concrete examples and details of actual accomplishments.
5. Exclude Irrelevant Information
The fifth and final way to make a resume stand out to an employer is to leave out irrelevant information. While there is a mistaken assumption that more is better when it comes to resumes, the opposite is in fact truer. Padding a weak resume with more empty information usually sends a message to the employer of uncertainty and unawareness as to the expectations required for the job. Exclusion can be just as potent as inclusion, and giving an employer irrelevant information to fish through will likely lead to being passed over for the job. If knowing what information to leave out or include proves to be too challenging, obtaining professional executive resumes can help.
In today’s competitive job market, it is always best to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to finding employment to which one is best suited and showcasing oneself in the best possible light to employers. While it’s a daunting task, many are in the same boat, and many resources exist which can help.
Samantha Higgins is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.