10 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out from the Crowd
By Yahaira Hernandez, YHPAA Public Relations Director
Job hunting can truly be a full-time job, it takes a lot of time (and sometimes a lot of coffee) to create or update your LinkedIn profile, create an impressive portfolio, research the organizations you’re applying to and most important of all – build an outstanding resume. As we all know, 2020 was a difficult year to say the least, one of the many headlines we saw was how the global pandemic caused a historic plummet in our economy and job losses nationwide. These times are tough, and the competition is as fierce as ever. We may be feeling the effects for many years to come, which makes it even more reason to devote some time to improve your resume if you’re on the job hunt.
To make a great first impression, your resume needs to look as visually appealing as it is packed with relevant experience, accomplishments and useful skills. With the help of our YHPAA Board of Directors and a little bit of my personal resume-building experience, we would like to provide you with 10 ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd.
1. Microsoft Office Word vs. PDF
Some people wonder if they should send hiring managers their resume in a Microsoft Office Word or PDF document, I know I did. In my personal experience, I used to prepare my resume with Word and then directly submit it to hiring employers. Now, I work with Microsoft Office Publisher to design a resume template, complete it with my professional history, save it as a PDF to look more polished and then send it off.
According to this Indeed article, there are several reasons why a PDF is often preferred by employers, some important reasons being that it allows you to save your resume exactly how you intended and without the risk of someone opening it and making edits like in a Microsoft Office Word document. Job seekers have succeeded in being hired by submitting either a Microsoft Word document or PDF – ultimately giving you the option of choosing either one.
2. Be Consistent
As you begin building your resume, try to avoid errors like applying different types of fonts, bullets or text sizes – unless it’s intentional. It might look odd to have one section further to right side of the page or having one section with bullet points while another has numbered items. Consistency is key, it’s an easy strategy to show your attention to detail. Such errors break a consistent template and can be very easy to spot.
3. Keep One to Two Pages Long
A good rule of thumb is to keep your resume to one page long. Unless you have more than a decade of experience and worked in several companies, then a two-page resume is reasonable. Whether you are aiming for a one-page or two-page resume, take this as a great opportunity to use your creativity with the use of text boxes, fonts, colors, lines, shapes, etc. And remember, keep everything consistent. The more creative you are, the more likely your resume will be a memorable one.
4. College Details Minimize Overtime
Upon your last year in college, information like your GPA, scholarships and student organizations are important to list. They show discipline and dedication. Great qualities any employer would like to see, especially for interns or entry-level applicants. After your first entry-level full-time job, you can then begin to minimize the college details on your resume, such as removing your student organizations, GPA and scholarships. After that, you can keep the most important information like your university, degree and year of graduation. This will still list your educational background, plus it gives you extra room to add to your professional background.
5. Numbers Are Your Friend
Add concrete numbers to showcase your successes. Hiring managers like to see tangible examples of your work experience. Some resumes may have vague details, but employers will see numbers and percentages as solid examples of your accomplishments and dependability.
Such examples include:
“Signed X number of clients in first year.”
“X% sales increase from the previous year.”
“Managed a team of X.”
“Raised $X in X number of months (or years).”
6. Are You on LinkedIn?
Feel free to add the link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume. After all, searching your name on LinkedIn is sometimes the next stop for employers after having looked at your resume.
Not having a LinkedIn profile isn’t that big of a deal but having one can further enhance their impression of you. Take the time to update your LinkedIn profile, add a professional headshot and include a few more details than what is listed on your resume.
Include an eye-catching headline like “Award-Winning Business Coach and Sales Expert”, summarize your educational and professional background in the “About” section and encourage colleagues to endorse your skills and leave insightful recommendations. Such a profile can give your resume that extra oomph!
7. Don’t Be Shy, Show Off Your Biggest Accomplishments
Dedicate a section of your resume to show off some of your biggest accomplishments! Whether it’s “Company’s Best Sales Leader of 2021”, “LinkedIn Certified Analytics Professional” or “2021 Board President for the Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin”, it’s worth mentioning.
If you don’t have any special certifications, there are many online certification courses you can take in all sorts of fields. LinkedIn Learning is a fantastic program, you can browse educational courses and enroll in certification courses.
Listing such honors gives hiring managers further proof of your credibility and enthusiasm. Also, it’s a list of accomplishments unique to you and that can make you an exceptional job candidate.
8. Embrace Your Creativity with a Portfolio
Along with your LinkedIn profile link, you can also add a link to your website, portfolio or video reel. Especially if you’re in a creative industry, like journalism, graphic design or photography. Many employers will likely request your portfolio so you could put yourself ahead of the game by simply adding the link to your resume or submitting your portfolio along with your resume.
9. No Pictures, Please!
I am an avid Pinterest user and one of the many items on my feed, include resume templates and ideas. Although many samples are impressive and useful enough to carry into my own personal resume, many templates feature a headshot somewhere on the first page. It looks very nice but after researching this topic more thoroughly, it seems that some countries are okay with photos on resumes but it’s not very common in the United States. Therefore, play it safe and don’t add your photo… even if you had a really good hair day in that photoshoot. Save it for LinkedIn!
10. Always Run Spellcheck
Believe it or not, misspellings and grammatical errors can quickly make your resume go from middle of the pile to the trash or shredder, I’ve seen it happen. Some hiring managers put “attention to detail” at the top of their list, so to see these mistakes right off the bat, can ruin your chances of being selected for an interview. This is important for all industries, especially for content-focused roles like marketing, advertising, journalism and so on.
Make it a habit to carefully proofread your resume and if you’re using Microsoft Office Word, go to “Review” and select “Spelling and Grammar” to have the program automatically review your work to identify any errors. This final step is a must-do right before you complete and save your resume.
Building a resume doesn’t have to be stressful, be open to creating your own unique template and follow this guide to help you along the way. Now, because these are trying times and lots of people are struggling to find a job, we ask that you share this article with your friends on social media. We hope these tips can help at least one person make an even more impressive resume and secure a new job.
Lastly, don’t just stop with these tips, YHPAA is proud to host many mentoring and professional development events throughout the year that offer insightful information from experts in different fields. Join YHPAA today or start with subscribing to our newsletter to learn about upcoming educational events. Best of luck on your job hunting!