How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

November 17, 2010

Secrets of a Great ResumeWith so many people in the job market, you have to be sure that your resume stands out from the crowd. Even if you don’t have an extensive work history, there are steps you can take to make your resume polished and professional.

Here are some tips from my book, “Secrets of a Great Resume:”

• Group your top skill sets into a summary.
• Create a professional email address (using your name – no nicknames) to include with your contact information.
• Use past tense – even when describing your current job.
• If you’re posting your resume online, don’t encourage identity theft by including too much personal information.
• Gear you resume towards the job you want, not the one you have now.
• List your most recent job first.
• Check spelling and grammar – don’t depend on your spelling errors being caught by spell check.

Your resume should only include your strongest accomplishments. Though it’s tempting to add all the details about every job or internship you’ve had, your resume is only a starting point. Use it to get your foot in the door so that you can get an interview. Once you have an opportunity to speak with the hiring manager, then you can go into more detail.

Since you have to catch the attention of the reader right away, stay away from passive-sounding words when describing your accomplishments and responsibilities. Passive sentences are indirect and don’t make much of an impression. Look at this example of a passive sentence: “Participated on product development team.” Compare that with this example of an active sentence: “Created scripts and tested new product.”

In addition to using active words and sentences in your descriptions, you also have to show results. Which description would appeal to you as a hiring manager? “Arranged new product development meetings,” or “Facilitated meetings for new product development team which led to cost savings due to reduced miscommunication between departments.”

If you’re just starting out or applying for jobs in a different industry than you have experience in, playing up your skills is very important. You may not have direct experience in the area you’re changing to, but you can show how the skills you’ve acquired in the old career can be carried over to the new one. Pick accomplishments that show that you are versatile and can think out of the box. Play up training and learning experiences to show that you can adapt to new environments. The person reading your resume is focused on finding the right person for the job. They won’t have the time to think about how to fit your skills into their requirements.

No matter how much experience you have, the person reading your resume should see right away that you can perform the duties the position requires. Of course if you know what type of job you want, it’ll be easier to create your resume.

However, if you’re not sure what you want to do next – or how to write your resume so that it reflects your skills – consider hiring a professional to help. These days you can’t take a chance that your resume will be overlooked. If you present yourself to your best advantage, you’ll have a better chance of being hired for the job you want.

Copyright © 2009 – 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

Deborah A Bailey

Deborah is a writer, writing workshop presenter and published author. She's host of the Women Entrepreneurs Radio podcast.

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