3 Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

There’s a lot of great advice floating around about how to find good job postings, how to deal with job interviews, and how to negotiate your starting salary. However, none of it means anything if your resume isn’t up to snuff. If your resume ends up molding away in a hiring manager’s slush pile—even a digital slush pile—you’re not going to get the job.

Don’t get us wrong, there’s a lot of advice out there about how to write and polish up your resume too—and a lot of it is great. The real question is how to make your resume stand out when there are hundreds of applicants for a given position? We’ve got some tips beyond just the basic mechanics to make your resume one to watch.

1 – Don’t try to stand out

We know what you’re thinking, but this is actually good advice. The human resources department at your company loves to trade stories about the most outlandishly overdone resumes they’ve seen. And we promise they’ve seen it all. Resumes printed on cardstock, resumes with gold leaf embossing, resumes done entirely in comic sans, digital resumes with crazy colors, or worse, gifs! You name it, they’ve seen someone’s desperate attempt to catch someone’s eye—and they’ve laughed about it. This is not the way to stand out, people!

Following established norms is actually the best way to get someone to look at your resume. Don’t try to break the aesthetic wheel. There are lots of very good (and free) basic resume templates out there—use one.

And don’t try to show off. Don’t use six-syllable words unless necessary. Use clear, concise language that isn’t vague. If a hiring manager has to guess what you mean by “oversaw, compiled, and managed the distribution of company-wide data, new developments, and relevant information to management and employees” when you’re trying to say “managed company newsletter,” you’re not going to win any points.

2 – Use your cover letter wisely

While it’s true that a hiring manager is unlikely to do more than skim your cover letter, they probably will look at it, and what they find is going to affect how much attention they give you resume. Use your cover letter to show that you very carefully read the job posting and that you’re not just another applicant who shoots off an application for every new job they see posted each day. Talk about the company, the job, and why you would like to work there or think you’d be a great fit. Even if your letter doesn’t get more than a 30-second skim read, the pertinent information that you actually have put thought into this particular position will stand out. It will make your resume more likely to get a thorough going over.

3 – Provide your LinkedIn account

These days, a lot of hiring research is done on social media. Give the people in HR your LinkedIn profile so they don’t have to search for it. They’ll want to see what your social network is like, so make it easy for them. Always make sure your profiles are cleaned up and up-to-date before you send out new job applications.