Make your Resumé Stand Out

by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research

Here’s how to make your resumé stand out:

Edit! Edit! Edit! Spell-check is the first step to editing your document. Even if you’re a good speller, it’s amazing what errors are made when you’re in a hurry, or staring at the monitor with tired eyes. However, don’t make the mistake of relying entirely on Spell-check. Remember, it only catches misspelled words, not incorrect homonyms (there, their, they’re; or its, it’s). If the word you have used exists in the English language, but you have used it wrongly, (from, form) Spell-check won’t find the error. Editing also requires you to carefully review a hard copy of your resumé. Finally, have another reliable person review your resumé to catch any missed errors. It’s worth the extra effort!

Use action verbs. They speak volumes! Describe your accomplishments by selecting precise action verbs that aggressively state your participation in a certain task: launched, directed, implemented, designed, installed, administered, exceeded, produced, developed, managed, negotiated, authored. Compare “Worked in public relations for an automotive manufacturer,” with “Authored, developed and implemented several industry-leading, award-winning programs in support of a ‘Customers for Life’ strategy.” Whose resumé would you choose?

Just the facts. Never misrepresent your education or work experience. It’s risky to obscure dates or titles to hide less prestigious positions, being unemployed, or frequent job changes. If a prospective employer or his executive recruiter conducts a background check and discovers you have lied, your resumé will be filed under ‘G’ and removed from their resumé database.

Strut your stuff. This is the one time in your life when it’s OK to brag. If one of your greatest strengths is that you have great leadership and team player skills, say it directly! For example, “Lead a team of 30 individuals to successfully launch a new e-commerce product for a major client. Our company received excellent press for our accomplishments.” This demonstrates a successful experience in marketing research, critical thinking, oral and written communication skills, teamwork, leadership, and industry knowledge. Show them all your strengths. Present specific metrics to showcase your accomplishments and achievements. Use percentage increases, accounts expanded, awards won.

Target your audience. Niche marketing is advertising directed toward a specific audience. When an automotive company is advertising an inexpensive compact to a 35-45ish audience, they show Mom lifting the hatchback to load shrubs, kids, or hockey equipment, and they advertise how safe and economical the car is. When they target the same car to the younger 20ish market, they’ll show it speeding around corners with strobe lights flashing, music thundering, and the wind in their faces. Your resumé should be targeted just as exclusively.

Employers know that many of the resumés they receive are from people who are blanketing the market in hopes something will come their way. Some interested candidates even apply for multiple positions at one company! Don’t make that mistake. Identify your employment objective precisely, determine if you have the right credentials, and only apply for positions you keenly want and for which you are qualified.

Prove you’re a problem solver. It’s the foremost attribute employers today are seeking. Make it the major focus of your resumé by stating the challenges your company faced, the action you took to address them, and the results. For example, “Authored and directed a professional support program to address low staff morale and a 39% turnover rate due to new job descriptions. Reduced retention loss to 10% over 3 years.” This shows your problem solving, leadership, people management, and communication skills.

Creativity counts! Right-brained, creative people often make a huge difference in an organization. They think ‘outside the box’ and come up with ideas even their boss hasn’t considered. If you’ve implemented any unique ideas, be sure to include them in your resumé!

What’s the bottom line? If you saved your organization money, give specific examples of how.

Show your people skills. Won any awards at work? Include them! Were any determined by your co-workers? Even better! This speaks volumes about the positive impact you will have in their organization. Do include concrete examples if you inspired others to perform better.

Send the finished resumé electronically. It’s always best to e-mail your resumé to the Executive Recruiter or Human Resource Manager as an attachment. Most resumés are stored electronically now, and very few businesses want to deal with hard copies anymore. Fax machines will soon be outdated. Demonstrate that you are IT savvy.

Everyone needs a professional resumé, and if it is distributed properly, it will get you in front of the people who count.

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