Make Your Resume Stand Out from the Crowd
A solid resume is your key to getting noticed, whether you’re trying to garner the attention of executive headhunters or hiring managers. Therefore, you want your resume to stand out amidst those of your peers. However, there’s a right way to compose a resume and a wrong way. Be sure that you understand the difference.
First and foremost, highlight your experience. This may seem obvious, but many resume-writers neglect to describe their experience in a logical, easy-to-read manner. Practically speaking, what does this mean? Make sure to use active, specific verbs and provide instances of your achievements. For example, hiring managers will likely pass over someone who claims he “worked to promote team cohesiveness via local social media,” whereas a more direct description of “implemented office-wide online network used by 80% of company employees,” shows specifically what the job seeker achieved, and demonstrates a high degree of computer proficiency as well as the ability to engage peers. The difference is merely in active verbs and incisive descriptions – if you have the smarts to sell yourself well, people will notice.
Second, the more fact-based your descriptions are, the more believable they become. Many companies are in search of someone who has done things like “overhauled division sales pitch, increasing client sales 50% following quarter,” rather than simply “overhauled sales pitch, improving client sales.” In these two examples, the details and the quantifiable data in the former make all the difference – and this is what companies are searching for: someone who understands why what she does is important, and can describe it as such.
Third, a resume should have a smooth flow: each job experience should build on the last. Even if it feels to you that your jobs hopscotched from here to there, try to find the thread that holds them together. A good way to do this is to think of the following: What skills have gotten you where you are today? Then, highlight the experiences and skills from your previous positions that answer this question. Most likely, they will tell a clear narrative – and, presuming you want to stay in your field, this narrative will demonstrate that you’re serious about a long-term career and have a work history that describes a successful trajectory.
Finally, formatting is of course important – make sure to bold or italicize your previous job titles, discretely list the dates you worked at each position, and, if appropriate, use bullet-points when enumerating your skills and experience. That said, don’t fall into the trap of over-formatting your resume. Avoid the well-known disasters of brightly colored paper and unnecessary fonts. Remember that your resume’s formatting should be classy and subdued – it’s the content that will catch the eye of potential employers, not the hot pink paper and the comic sans.
In summary, if you stick to describing your work experience in active, quantitative terms, and make sure that your experience builds upon itself and directly relates to the jobs for which you’re applying, you’ll be well on your way to writing a winning resume.