2017 is looking to be another banner year for Job Seekers. Unsurprisingly, competition is fierce and those on the hunt are looking for ways to stand out and highlight their key differentiators.

Ideally, your first impression is made face-to-face or through a mutual acquaintance or networking opportunity. In reality, not everyone is that lucky, leaving your resume to do the talking for you.

Trends come and go in resume writing but a few things remain the same. “When it comes to packaging your work experience, crisp writing and brevity still reign supreme. Add a clean, modern design and some descriptive storytelling, and you’re well on your way to landing at least an interview — if not a whole new gig,” says Kristen Bahler of Money.

How to create a stand-out resume

Make a good first impression (or it might be your last!)

You have three seconds to “wow” the hiring manager. Three seconds to convince her you are the candidate she is looking for. Use the top one-third of your resume to grab her attention. Direct links to your LinkedIn or personal website is a great way to share samples of your work.  Additionally, use this space for contact information such as name, phone number, and email address.  (If you are applying for local jobs, it is appropriate to include your city; otherwise, skip it.)

Define your brand in 5 sentences or less.

Replace your old Objectives with a well-developed, concise Professional Summary which provides a clear overview of who you are as a professional. We recommend using the Summary you created on your LinkedIn page. Using keywords specific to the job and industry you are looking for, your summary will give hiring managers a snapshot of your achievements and experiences that set you apart from the completion.

Highlight qualifications and skills.

We like to think of this as your highlight reel. Developing a bulleted list of skills allows the hiring manager to see your best moves in the first few seconds and shows what you bring to the table as a candidate. This is another section that must be tailored for each role you are submitting your resume for. Most companies use applicant tracking systems or software to scan resumes for relevant keywords, so include phrases from the job posting itself.

Brag a little.

Experience is important, but hiring managers want to know what makes you stand out among the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of candidates who’ve had the same role. Give quantifiable examples of why you will be an asset to the company. Extract your most substantive achievements and list them in a standalone section on your resume. Use numbers and percentages to show money saved, sales projections exceeded, increases in ROI, new business, or revenue that you are responsible for or had a hand in. Emphasizing your achievements demonstrates the value you added to your previous company and what can your potential new company can expect from you.

Prove you do more than ‘meet expectations’.

Most job descriptions are bulleted lists of tasks. Use this section to sell your initiative and creativity and impact in previous organizations. Words like “Managed” and “responsible for” are passive. Add life to your experience by using dynamic word choices such as: Drove, Developed, Instituted, Designed, Created, Implemented, or Built.

Don’t ignore the format.

Unless you are looking for a job in the creative sector – design, graphics, advertising – using multiple font styles and sizes is distracting. Putting job titles, company names, or achievements in bold is a great way to draw attention to important components. Font choice is important as well. Select a font that is both clean and modern, while avoiding tired fonts such as Times New Roman.

If you only get three seconds, make sure they pack a mean punch! As cliché as it sounds, you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. A concise, dynamic, easy to read, error-free resume that highlights successes, skill set, and experience and leaves a recruiter wanting more is guaranteed to be a knockout!

For a few more Resume Myths & Must Haves visit our Resume Toolkit.


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