By now, you’ve likely learned that resumes come in many different forms: chronological, skills based/functional, or a combination of the two. And, let’s not forget that you may change elements of your resume to target the information for a specific job that you’re applying to…
With all of these options, resume writing can get very confusing very quickly. So, here are four of the most important ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd – regardless of which format you choose.
1.) Use Keywords
More than anything else, keywords are the ticket to your success. When a recruiter or hiring manager reviews your resume, he or she is looking for very specific words that are tied to a given job description. The easiest way to incorporate keywords is to read the job description and write down the words that match your skills and experience. Then, when reviewing your resume, ensure that these same exact words are used in the appropriate places in your resume.
For example, a job description for a dietitian may include words/phrases like “plans food and nutrition programs” or “promotes healthy eating habits” or “educates clients on dietary modifications.” A job description for general manager may include “develops strategic plans” or “builds company image,” or include a list of skills like “performance management, staffing, training, fiscal management,” and more.
If you’re applying to either of these jobs, you’ll want to use these keywords/phrases in your resume as appropriate to showcase your skills and experience in these areas.
2.) Achievements are Better than Duties
Even though you may be just starting out in your career, a list of accomplishments speaks louder than a laundry list of the duties associated with each position you’ve held. While it’s important to convey the type of work you have done, you really want to show that in doing the work you’ve achieved a goal or two.
- Sales Associate, Favorite Mall Store, September-December 2012
- Served as cashier, maintaining a 100% accurate register
- Managed inventory and developed new processes that resulted in moving merchandise to the floor 50% faster than old system
- Provided customer service that resulted in a 5% increase in customer satisfaction results in quarterly survey
As you can see in this example, I did not just list “cashier, managed inventory, provided customer service.” I tied measurable results to the work to show how this person performed these tasks. The added achievements help recruiters see the level of your experience and can help translate work that may not be part of your career field, but includes similar responsibilities or skills – like organizational skills, customer service and money management – that can be associated with the career-related job you really want.
3.) Clean Up the Layout
Regardless of the way you organize your resume, having a clean layout is helpful for recruiters. Your resume should be one page in length, two for more experienced applicants. Your name and contact info at the top. Then, only use one clean, easy-to-read font (like Arial or Times New Roman), use bulleted lists to break up large blocks of text, use bold text to differentiate section headers and allow some space between sections to make your document “breathe.”
Even the most well organized resume can be difficult to read if all of the text runs together. Help the reader’s eye move naturally through your document, allowing for the eye to quickly scan and find the most important elements of your resume.
4.) Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
More than anything else, proofread for spelling and grammatical errors. These mistakes can call into question your attention to detail, and can negatively impact your reputation.
Two suggestions for proofreading: (1) have a friend or family member proofread your resume, and (2) read it backwards (start at the end and read right to left). Amazingly, reading your resume – or any document – backwards will help you catch unexpected spelling errors.
Writing your resume can seem like a tedious process, but including the right information in a clean, easy-to-read format is key to your success!
For even more resume writing and other job seeker tips, click here.
Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.