How to Make Your Resume Stand Out From the Crowd

Woman typing on a laptop

Beyond the more conspicuous aspects of a resume such as ensuring there are no typos, let’s focus on three of the most significant methods of ensuring your resume catches the eye of the recruiter—-with a positive impression of course!

1. Be intentional about your bullet points

First and foremost—consider your action verbs, because words matter! Rather than something such as: “responsibilities included”, or “duties involved” (i.e. job description language), twist that around to detail what you accomplished or achieved, rather than simply what you were assigned to do. Even terms like “worked with” or “wrote” come across as bland–let’s spice them up! Depending on the context of the activities you’re involved in, there are a host of verbs that will blend in well and accentuate the extent of your skillset and value addition. Here are a few categories below, taken from our Action Verbs & Keywords page:

Management Skills: Administered; consolidated; delegated; oversaw; produced; strengthened

Communication Skills: Addressed; corresponded; drafted; formulated; interpreted; mediated

Helping Skills: Assessed; clarified; counseled; expedited; facilitated; rehabilitated

Secondly, it’s important to note that different industries you’re interested in and applying to will place a premium on different tools, skills, and tasks. Thus, doing your homework on what to focus regarding a consulting role, versus one in copywriting or journalism, will make your resume that much more tailored–thereby showing your commitment to detail. For instance, here are a few examples to consider within the consulting field:

  • Performed a comparative analysis and presented to 8 person executive team…(showcases research and presentation ability)
  • Resolved [XYZ issue] by gathering feedback,…(showcases problem solving ability)
  • Redesigned [XYZ solution], increasing efficiency by x%…(showcases creativity and entrepreneurial drive)

Here are a few to consider in the marketing /media journalism industry:

  • Catalogued graphic designs from previous issues (showcases organizational and creativity skills)
  • Collaborated with 3 Assignment Editors to develop consumer insights (showcases teamwork and consumer-focused mindset)
  • Directed content development…(showcases leadership skills)

Far more than just buzzwords, being intentional with a blend of action verbs and industry keywords will help you not only appeal to recruiters and hiring managers, but also convey your experiences in a manner that is rooted in meaningful, results-focused contribution.

TIP: For more bullet point insights, check out our blog post entitled: “The Key to a Great Resume Bullet Point”.

2. Keep it concise (1 page)

Striking the right balance between compelling, yet concise is oftentimes easier said than done, but always important on a resume! This will help ensure that you’re not expending energy into creating content for additional pages that are unlikely to be looked at, or coming across as scattered (and therefore raising more eyebrows than boxes checked, leading to the proverbial “waste bin”). Follow these 6 quality tips from The Muse on how to cut down your resume to a single page, summarized below as:

  1. Trim Your Margins (shortening to 0.5 or 0.75 inch)
  2. Combine Sections (e.g., combine your Skills & Interests sections into one)
  3. Create Multiuse Lines (e.g., does your GPA need a whole line onto itself?)
  4. Maximize the Line Spacing (decrease spacing between section headers and paragraphs; also reduce your font size to 11 or 10-point)
  5. Shorten Bullets (e.g., keep bullet point length to 1-2 lines by condensing run-on language)
  6. Understand the Reality of the Situation (think hard about what content can be cut!)

3. Quantify and Qualify!

You’ve likely heard this one before, but to emphasize: just like words matter, numbers matter as well! The manner in which you use numeric language is not only eye catching; it also paints a crisper picture of the scope and scale of your influence, and is therefore crucial no matter the industry or position you’re applying for. Quantifying can be accomplished through the number of individuals (i.e. colleagues, clients, peers, supervisees/ers) you’ve engaged with, as well as money you’ve raised/saved, or a percentage that can be represented in terms of time or waste saved, or clients/customers increased.

TIP: Check out this blog post from The Muse entitled “How to Quantify Your Resume Bullets (When You Don’t Work With Numbers)”, for helpful insights.

Similarly, while quantifying is a huge boost, qualifying (i.e. adding results-based, qualitative language) can do wonders for your resume as well. Collaborated on a 6-person research project. Great. But how did it go? What were the results or outcomes? Delivered a PowerPoint presentation to 5 senior staff members, in which key suggestions were archived for future incorporation into next fiscal year’s employee development plan to enhance engagement and productivity. Wonderful! Now I the hiring manager can gain a sense of the purposeful direction your contribution headed in. All in all, incorporating numeric, quantifiable detail, with qualitative, qualifiable language into your resume will bolster your cause, improving your odds of making it to that sought-after interview.

Now that you have the tools in tow to put together a stellar resume, go forth and execute! Don’t forget that in addition to visiting a resume workshop led by a career coach (check EagleLink for upcoming dates), you can visit our office for 15-minute drop-ins without having to schedule an appointment, handy for getting started or gaining a final nod of approval before you send it in (or anywhere in between). 

TIP: Once your resume is all set (congrats!), the job may be far from over in your application process. For instance, working on a cover letter? Check out how to write a laser-focused cover letter that gets noticed, as well as 5 mistakes you’re making, if you’re not feeling so good about it.

Jabril Robinson
—By Jabril Robinson, Assistant Director, Career Education

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