Ways to make your resume stand out
Summer is just around the corner so it’s high time to buckle down and tackle the monster that is job applications. Whether it’s for mowing laws or doing research, a resume or curriculum vitae is an employer’s first introduction to a potential employee.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your resume stand out:
Know the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae.
A resume includes your education, employment history, volunteer history, and relevant skills. A CV focuses on your academic history, research, and relevant courses. Both will include your contact information, which you should ensure is correct and updated as necessary. Use phone numbers and email addresses you will actually answer or check.
Know when to include a cover letter.
While many jobs will not require a cover letter, unless otherwise stated, it may be beneficial to include one regardless. Your resume can only say so much about your skills, while your cover letter can expand on your experiences and skills. You can also use your cover letter to show that you have done some research on the position and discuss how your skills will be useful to the employer.
Remember that you are selling yourself and your skills.
Applying for jobs is like selling a car: you need to convince the employer that you are worth investing their time and money in, especially when compared to other applicants. Try to focus less on what the job can do for your benefit and more on what you can do to benefit the employer.
Write in first person.
You are a person and your employer knows this. Writing in first person is important to show that you are taking ownership of your skills and the application. Writing in third person can make it seem like your parent wrote your resume for you.
Pick simple fonts and no more than two styles.
Nothing makes a resume look more amateurish than a title in Showcard Gothic or Papyrus. Keep to simple san serif fonts like Arial, Gill sans, or Kartika for your headings and resume. For your cover letter you can use a serif font, like Garamond, Georgia, or Bodoni for your body text. Absolutely avoid fancy and handwritten fonts, and try to limit to only using a pair of fonts or a pair of styles (ie. Regular for body text and bold for headings). Make sure to test print out your resume and cover letter to make sure your font is readable. Your headings should be easy to read so that your employer can easily refer to a section without reading the whole page.
Make it short and sweet.
Try to keep everything in your resume concise and easy to read. You don’t want to confront a potential employer with a wall of text. A resume should be between 1-2 pages, while a CV can be longer depending on your academic history. A cover letter should also only be 1-2 pages.
Be specific and objective.
Customize your resume to the position you’re applying for. Being too general shows that you didn’t go the extra mile to research the position. If you can use the same resume for completely unrelated jobs, then you may have a problem that employers will notice. Remember that they could be reading dozens of resumes; a general resume does not standout and thus you will not stand out either.
Change up your action phrases.
Just like in an essay, you don’t want to start every sentence with the same words repeatedly. Pick up a thesaurus or use Google to find substitutes for phrases that are too similar.
Proofread and peer review.
Nothing makes you look more incompetent than having spelling errors, overset text, or grammatical inconsistencies in your resume. After you’ve been staring at your resume for hours your eyes might not be able to pick out little mistakes. You can ask your friends or family to read over your resume to help you find the issues, and if you don’t have time for someone else to read it over, you can try reading it aloud one sentence at a time.
Do not brownnose your employer.
This may be a personal pet peeve, but I cannot stand it when I see a resume that has phrases like “it would be an honor to work for such an extraordinary company”. You’re not impressing anyone with language like this, it is just pandering filler. Instead, use your limited space to focus on your skills and how you would be an asset to the company.
If you’re ever questioning the validity of what you wrote you can ask your friends, family, or refer to services like the Writing Center in the library. It takes time and effort to craft a good resume, and the more you write, the better you will get. You can think of it this way: if you’re not invested in your resume, why would employers invest in you?