If you're job hunting, then you naturally want to make your resume stand out among the dozens, if not hundreds, of candidates you're competing with. You've probably even looked for the perfect resume template or the best resume builder app to produce that all-powerful, job-snagging curriculum vitae (CV).
It's not enough that your resume looks great, though — you also have to include the right elements to catch a hiring manager's eye. Here are some tips for crafting a resume that gets attention (and hopefully lands you an interview) with your chosen company.
1. Demonstrate Impact
Instead of rattling off a list of tasks and responsibilities for each job you've had in the past, think impact and results. Dr. Chela White-Ramsey, senior specialist of employee development at Indeed, offers up a formula to help: "Use the 'action word + skill = result' format for structuring your job duty explanations."
An example she provided is for someone who has a job as a fast food cashier: "Phrasing that job as, 'Greeted dozens of customers on a daily basis and ensured that orders were correct, resulting in both revenue growth and repeat business for the company,'" demonstrates how you made an impact for your employer.
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Pros and Cons of Demonstrating Impact
Pros: Demonstrating impact gives HR professionals and hiring managers a glimpse of how you could be an asset to their companies. It makes them curious about what you could bring to the table and how you could improve company operations.
Cons: The impact you demonstrate might not align with a company's core values. For example, you might express achievements in revenue when the company you're applying for has other targets and outcomes in mind. Make sure you customize your impact according to what matters to your prospective employer.
2. Use Numbers
Amina Emenena is a brand strategist with a long history of recruiting for Fortune 500 companies. She suggests using numbers to demonstrate your impact and draw attention in the first few critical seconds the recruiter's eyes land on your resume.
"You have about 10 seconds to capture a recruiter's interest when they encounter your resume," she said. "Numerical data typically leaps out from the page and attracts more interest in the candidate (you)."
To make your resume stand out from the crowd, use the numerical information to detail your duties on the job. And be specific with percentages and dollar amounts that indicate growth, improvement or any kind of increase.
Pros and Cons of Using Numbers
Pros: Numbers can be appealing because they demonstrate concrete proof of your achievements in past positions. Results-oriented companies will appreciate this attention to detail.
Cons: You could unknowingly insert statistics or results that either don't matter or are underwhelming. Avoid adding numbers for fluff or just to impress recruiters. For best results, use metrics that matter and are accurate.
3. Highlight Your Personal Brand
A resume that stands out has to be backed by a personality that stands out. There's a reason a company will choose your resume from the pile: you. The goal is to show how you are uniquely equipped for the role you're applying for.
A communication strategy consultant, Nicole Williams said, "Create an authentic, yet powerful personal statement."
If you're struggling to do this, think of your personal statement like a sales pitch, or better yet, an elevator pitch. She gives an example of what this might look like on your resume:
"I'm an energetic, self-motivated professional [with] exceptional writing and interpersonal communication skills, with the entrepreneurial stamina and wisdom to drive lucrative business, growth and results."
Pros and Cons of Highlighting Your Personal Brand
Pros: Creating a personal statement can help "sell" your employment candidacy in a concise, efficient manner. Recruiters and other hiring personnel are usually time-strapped. Anything that catches their eyes could garner you a position on the callback shortlist.
Cons: Using too much cloying or hype-filled rhetoric could be a total turn-off. Be confident and specific about what you bring to the table, but also be realistic about future achievements.
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4. Use Keywords From the Job Description
This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you are sending the same boilerplate resume out for every position, it could be a problem. If the job description mentions certain skills, like working with specific populations, software applications or complex machinery, call that out on your resume.
"Before [sending] your resume for any position, carefully assess the job description for the specific, qualifying and desired skills," said Williams.
Pros and Cons of Using Job Description Keywords
Pros: Including keywords can make your resume searchable electronically and provide a convenient way for HR personnel to pick your resume out of the pile. If you've got the "goods," as demonstrated by the keywords they are searching for, you're more likely to move to the next step in the hiring process.
Cons: If you don't hit the exact keywords recruiters are looking for, you could be missed in electronic searches. Try variations and keyword combinations to describe your skills and experiences.
5. Know Your Strengths
One reason you might not be getting hits on your resume is that you aren't actually suited for the jobs you're applying for. A punchy, noticeable resume should reflect a confident candidate secure in what he or she can bring to the table.
Career coach and licensed clinical social worker Lequita Brooks administers career-related assessments to her coaching clients to help them find the right jobs the first time around.
"I administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory and Career Reports to help individuals make an informed career decision with guidance," she said. You can even include some of your results on your resume to show hiring professionals you are serious about being the right fit.
Pros and Cons of Knowing Your Strengths
Pros: Taking assessments can help you pin down careers and job positions that align closely with your personality, skills and experience. You'll spend more of your time applying for jobs that make sense for you.
Cons: Though potentially helpful, some assessments might not tell the entire story or even box you into a professional trait that doesn't serve you well in your job search. Take test results with a grain of salt, and make sure you analyze what the outcomes actually mean for your career and job search.
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6. Use Video
Video is quickly becoming a crucial content medium. Along with playing a part in sales and marketing endeavors, companies are now using video to make hiring decisions. According to a 2015 customer survey conducted by Montage, a provider of tech-based recruiting solutions, 74 percent of clients expected video interviewing to increase over the next 12 months.
Companies like BombBomb require all candidates to make a video as part of the application process. To be fair, it is a software company that sells video-email services. But the demand for the app should give you an idea of the growing popularity of video in the job search process.
If possible, include a video link in your resume, and make sure it's prominent and enticing enough to be clicked. If this is not possible, try to send a personal email with your video.
Pros and Cons of Using Video
Pros: Video is still cutting edge enough to get you noticed among a large pool of candidates. It also shows that you're willing to take big risks.
Cons: Though video content is hot, the written resume is still more prevalent. Use discretion when it comes to adding video to your resume. Not every company will appreciate this daring move.
7. Drop Names
If you've worked with big-name companies (or people), don't be afraid to mention this fact on your resume. Perhaps you've only worked with small companies but had roles where you served major brands. These names catch attention and should absolutely be included on your resume.
If you've worked with prominent figures or companies, you might even want to highlight these names with italics or bold type, so recruiters take notice.
Pros and Cons of Dropping Names
Pros: Big names like Amazon, Elon Musk, Facebook or Mark Cuban will definitely garner attention and can give you a credibility boost in the eyes of a hiring manager.
Cons: You don't want this name dropping to turn into a crutch to hide insufficiencies on your resume or in your experience. Don't think that working with big brands, people and companies will replace having the skills to do the job.
8. Include Testimonials
Make your resume stand out with testimonials from people you've worked with. Choose one or two testimonials from superiors, co-workers, industry peers or clients. The goal is to select those testimonials that emphasize your strengths and highlight personality traits that are hard to come by in the workplace.
Pros and Cons of Including Testimonials
Pros: Testimonials show that you are a good worker who gets along with others and brings results. Supporting your competency claims with a testimonial lets a recruiter know that you are results oriented.
Cons: Over-the-top testimonials that sound canned can be a red flag. It might mean you asked a friend to chime in when it would have been better to get a client or supervisor to attest to your work ethic. Try to use testimonials that aren't overly doting but rather realistic and character revealing.