You’re reading #4 of my Top Ten Tips for writing your resume. Read all the other tips by clicking on each link:
1. Be focused.—2. Be strategic and selective.— 3. Be succinct.— 4. Stand out from the crowd.— 5. Show results. — 6. Write it right.— 7. Make a great first impression.— 8. Be interesting. — 9. Be specific.— 10. Tell your story.
#4 STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
In my family at Christmas, we called them the “standards”—the typical shirt-box-sized gift that contained, undoubtedly, some item of clothing. Needed, maybe, but not too exciting! And virtually indistinguishable in a pile under the tree.
How much more intriguing were the oddly shaped packages, the non-standard gift wrap, the clear evidence that this was something special—or at least different from standard!
In your job search, do your best to intrigue and excite the hiring manager before you ever meet in person. Use your resume to showcase what makes you unique and special.
Here are a few ideas to help your resume stand out from the crowd:
- Provide specific examples of your successes—what you have done—rather than simply listing skills or responsibilities that state what you can do. (See Tip #5 for more on this.)
- Connect the dots from all of your experiences to create the picture of who you are today. Employers might miss these connections if you don’t highlight them.
- Avoid lengthy job descriptions. They are not interesting and they do nothing to set you apart from others with similar job titles. Instead, describe each job in the context of specific problems you solved. See Tip #9 and Tip #10.
- Don’t use resume templates. They discourage individuality and, even worse, create the appearance of sameness even if your content is different.
- Strive to create some visual distinction through font, color, graphics, or other formatting effect. Of course you’ll want to keep it professionally appropriate, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be bland.
- Consider briefly mentioning extracurricular activities and achievements that will add personality to your resume. See Tip #8.
Many resumes are quite similar in content because candidates are focused on mirroring job postings and trying to include all possible skills keywords to boost their chances of passing through a resume-scanning applicant tracking system (ATS). The end result is often a cookie-cutter resume.
Of course, your resume needs to include the requisite skills and experience for the job in question. But every applicant will (or should) have those qualifications, so simply meeting expectations will not elevate you above the “standard.”
SUMMING IT UP
- Give employers more, different, unique information to distinguish your resume from every other candidate’s.
- Job descriptions and skills lists can help you add keywords to your resume, but by themselves they are not distinctive and certainly not unique.
- Your achievements are exclusive to you and therefore cannot be duplicated on any other resume. They should be the highlight of yours!
BONUS TIP #11: GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT. Professional resume/profile writers are widely available for all professions, all levels, and in all fee ranges. Not only will we take an objective, employer-centric view of your career, we’re experts at uncovering the themes, threads, and success stories of your career that will sell your value.
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like a complimentary review of your resume, a few specific suggestions, and a proposal for a rewrite.
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