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Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

How to make your resume stand out: unveiling the secrets

16 min read
How to make your resume stand out: unveiling the secrets
Artwork by:Pablo Cammello
Applying for your next dream job? Before you press send, you need to know how to make your resume stand out. Read our guide to learn the expert secrets now.

A professional, engaging resume is your secret weapon when job hunting. Whether it’s time to get a step up on the career ladder or you’re going for your first position, this is the document that will get your foot in the door. Get it right, and your phone will be ringing off the hook with interview offers. Get it wrong, and the silence will be almost excruciating. So, that begs the question, do you know how to make a resume stand out?

If this crucial conundrum has got you stumped, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Resume.io, we have everything that you need to empower your job search. We’ve got a massive library of writing guides along with cover letter examples and resume examples. In the following guide, we will be delving into these key topics to help you out: 

  • Why your resume needs to stand out from the competition
  • Writing: expert-backed resume writing tips to help you get started
  • Design: how to make your resume stand out with epic design hacks
  • The mistakes you should avoid when making your resume

Why your resume needs to stand out from the crowd

Before we unveil the secrets of making resumes that stand out, let’s talk about why it’s important. When you’re applying for new jobs, the finer details matter. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the reasons that you need to create a captivating resume: 

Grab the reader’s attention quickly 

Want to grab the reader’s attention? You better be snappy. Eye-tracking research reveals that hiring managers spend an average of seven seconds reviewing each resume. That’s not a whole load of time to make the right impression. Recruiters see a bunch of generic resumes every day. So, when you’re applying for your next job, you need to stand out. 

Showcase your value like a pro 

When you send out your application, it’s all about what value you bring to the table. Like many professionals, you could be under-selling yourself. If you’re afraid of tooting your own horn, you could be losing out on some truly remarkable job opportunities. Learning how to make your resume stand out is a simple way to highlight your value to recruiters. 

Learn the insider tricks you never knew 

Ever wondered why some people land endless job interviews and others are left in the dust? Your resume is the way you introduce yourself to the hiring manager or potential employer. If you have overlooked this part of your toolkit in the past, it’s time to change your ways. Learning expert-backed tips and advice will give you a competitive edge. 

Increase your chances of success

Of course, the number one reason you need your resume to stand out is to increase your chance of getting a new job. It can take sending out up to 100 resumes to get an interview. When you’re searching for your next opportunity, that can sound overwhelming. However, resumes that stand out are more likely to get the hiring manager’s attention for the right reasons. If you’ve struggled to get to this stage in the past, it may be time for a revamp. 

Writing it: expert writing tips for resumes that stand out 

As we’ve covered, it’s important to know how to make your resume stand out from the crowd. If you’re looking for some pointers to help you along the way, we’ve got everything you need. First up, let’s focus on how you write a professional resume. The content of this document needs to perfectly captivate who you are and what you bring to the table. To kick things off before you put pen to paper, take a look at these core writing tips: 

Keep your resume short and sweet

If you’ve worked in your industry for years — or even decades — you might have a long story to tell. However, the hiring manager doesn’t have hours to read your resume. For the best results, we recommend that this document be either one or two pages long. One page is preferable, but, in some circumstances, two pages are acceptable. Consider what you need to include on your resume and what information is superfluous. 

Whenever you are thinking about including a certain thing, ask yourself: “What does this information add to my resume?” If you can’t answer that easily, you may be cramming your resume with details that don’t add value. It pays to be selective about what you share.

Tailor your resume to the job posting

Far too many candidates are guilty of using a “one size fits all” approach to applying for jobs. If you send the same tired resume out to every employer, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Hiring managers can spot this type of resume in seconds. If you want to boost your chances of success, you should tailor your resume to the requirements of the job.

To get started, go back to the original job advert and make a note of the specifications. You should also do some research on the business and the particular role in question. All of this information will help you to align your professional resume with the hiring manager’s needs. Look for obvious overlaps between your experience and the demands of the job. Highlighting this common ground is a surefire way to make your resume stand out.

Choose the right language and tone

Language has power. The tone you use can impact how the reader perceives you. For example, if you use a negative tone, the hiring manager may presume that you will complain and moan when you’re at work. On the other hand, if you use a positive tone, they may expect you to have a sunny attitude towards the work you do. When you’re writing your resume, make sure you adopt a formal and positive tone. 

Equally, the style of language you use can make a big difference here. Keep in mind that a resume is a professional document, and your language needs to match that vibe. You’re not writing a message to a friend or emailing someone you know well. Instead, you need to choose words that convey professionalism. While you may not be used to this style of writing, it’s smart to perfect it. That way, you can make the right impression on the reader.

Find a unique “hook” for your summary

Your professional summary is the most creative part of your resume. This is a short paragraph that is located at the top of the page. In just a few sentences, you need to encapsulate who you are as a professional and why the hiring manager should care. It’s a tall order. One of the best tips you can use here is to find your “hook”. In other words, the thing that makes you unique. Answer the following questions to get started: 

  • What skill have you mastered and can you quantify it?
  • What is your biggest and most impressive achievement?
  • Have you worked with big names and, if so, who?
  • Do you have any particular awards or commendations?
  • If you could tell the hiring manager one thing, what would it be?

When you have answered the above questions, you may have some talking points. You can use these in your professional summary. Focus on one key point over the rest. You don’t want to overwhelm the hiring manager with too much information. When you place the spotlight on just one trait or accomplishment, it’s likely to be more memorable. 

Optimize your resume for the ATS 

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a huge deal. The majority of businesses now use this software to filter incoming applications. The system ranks resumes based on how well each of them aligns with the job criteria using keyword ranking. Think of this as a gate. If you want to make sure that a human sees your resume, you need to get past the ATS first.

Optimizing your resume is the name of the game and there are a few ways you can do this. First up, you need to follow a solid structure and ensure that the content is easy to read. Remember, you are writing for software, not just the human eye. Make sure that every element of your resume is where it expects it to be. You should also pepper your resume with keywords and phrases. To do this, take a look at the job posting and highlight any words that stand out to you or align directly with the core duties of the position. 

Quantify your accomplishments 

“Show don’t tell” is a golden writing rule. When you’re trying to persuade a hiring manager that you’re the perfect candidate, you need to showcase your expertise well. Rather than simply listing your accomplishments, you should always quantify them. To demonstrate this, let’s take a look at two versions of the same summary: 

“Qualified sales executive with years of industry experience”

vs.

“Qualified sales executive with 16 years of industry experience and a 97% customer satisfaction rating” 

Do you see how the second version adds more value than the first? When you’re writing your professional resume, quantify your claims. After you have written your resume, go back and see where you can add some extra detail. 

Always be specific about your duties 

While we’re on the subject of being specific, here’s another tip you should use. One traditional marketing principle says that adding details to your points makes them more memorable than generic statements. So, when you’re writing about your past experiences, add details about your specific duties and achievements. This approach may help the hiring manager remember your application over the competition.

Curate a killer list of hard and soft skills 

Next up, let’s talk about your skills section. Many candidates make the mistake of just making a generic list of skills on their resume and hoping for the best. So, when we talk about how to make your resume stand out, there’s a simple trick you can use. Including a balanced mixture of both hard and soft skills here will pique the hiring manager’s interest.

Hard skills relate directly to the position and are often technical. You can refer back to the job specification to give you an idea. In fact, it’s wise to use the same language and terms that the posting uses, as it will help you get past the applicant tracking system (ATS). 

Soft skills, on the other hand, allow you to work well as part of a team and get the job done efficiently. They could be “communication,” “time management,” and “organization”. Hiring managers are looking for well-rounded candidates, so you need to include these too.

Edit your resume after you write it

Spoiler: Your first draft of your resume won’t be the best one. When we talk about how to make your resume stand out, one of the main things you need to remember is to edit. This is where the magic happens. When you have a rough copy of your resume, take the time to fine-tune it and make adjustments. 

Try to get into the head of the hiring manager. Read your resume as though you are them and look for any problems, information gaps, or inconsistencies. You might find that it is helpful to print your resume out and read it as a hard copy. Grab a marker pen and get to work. When you take the time to edit your resume well, it will stand out to the reader. 

Designing it: quick design hacks for resumes that stand out

Don’t overlook the look of the document. If you’re new to the world of design, we’ve got what you here: 

Use that white space 

White space is vital. It makes your resume easy to read and stops it from looking “busy”. You may want to cram loads of information onto your resume, but you don’t want it to overwhelm the reader. Leave some space around the edges of each section. This visual trick allows the person looking at your resume to quickly scan it for the finer details. 

Stick to one or two fonts 

Professional resumes are consistent. Using a broad variety of font styles appears chaotic and is a quick way to put the hiring manager off. Generally, you should use one or two fonts on your resume. Pick typefaces that are legible and professional. 

Space it out

Have you spaced your resume out correctly? If there is not an even amount of space between sections, something will look “off” about the document. While the hiring manager may not be able to put their finger on the problem, they will know that it’s not quite right. Take the time to ensure that the spacing of your professional resume is on point. 

Choose a classic template

If you’re wondering how to make your resume stand out, using one of our field-tested resume templates is the answer. Most of the time, it’s smart to opt for a classic design over anything too experimental. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Should you work in a creative industry, for example, you can use a resume design with a tad more flair.

Common mistakes that will hold you back

We’ve covered all that you need to know to create a resume that stands out. But before you get started on yours, there are some final things you should know. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes you should avoid when creating your next resume:

  • Not proofreading your resume. Spelling and grammatical mistakes are enough to put any hiring manager off. When you’re finished with your resume, take the time to proofread it well. You can also use a program, such as Grammarly.
  • Using jargon or complicated language. Write for a reader who doesn’t understand your industry. You have no way of telling who will read your resume first. Make sure that a general audience can understand your application.
  • Including charts, graphs, or images. You don’t need to include imagery on your professional resume. While you may choose to put a photo of yourself on your application, avoid adding charts, graphs, or any other type of picture here.

Key takeaways 

  • You only have a matter of seconds to make an impression on the hiring manager. Having a resume that stands out will increase your chances of success.
  • It’s important to use the right tone and language when writing your resume.
  • Follow our advice on how to make your resume stand out from the competition.
  • Using Resume.io is the easiest way to build a professional resume in minutes.
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Build your resume in 15 minutes
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Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
Create My Resume
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