Little Known Tricks to Get Your Resume to Stand Out

Getting your resume to stand out without crossing the lines of professionalism can be a challenging task.  You need to include all the basics like summary, experience, and education, but you also need to go above and beyond to make your resume stand out. Here are a few tricks that will get your resume noticed—in a good way—and get you one step closer to landing your dream job.

resume tricks

1. Take time to customize  

Your resume needs to look professional, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be generic. A sea of resumes with the same language, format, and skill sets start blending together. If you take the time to customize your resume to specifically match the job description of the position you are seeking, you’re going to make an immediate impact. For example, if the job listing mentions that qualified candidates will need to be able to devise innovative customer marketing strategies, explicitly list that as one of your skills (if it’s true, of course). Better yet, give an example of how you’ve achieved that goal. This will help the hiring manager see you as a good fit for the position. It may be a little more time consuming to customize your resume in this manner, but it’s worth it.

2. Demonstrate growth

Employers aren’t just interested in what you’ve accomplished during your career—they also want to know how you’ve grown. If your resume lists two or more jobs in a row in which you had the same title and responsibilities, you might be giving the impression you’ve plateaued. Switching jobs without any type of promotion or added responsibilities also begs the question as to why you bothered changing jobs at all. Are you disloyal? Are you difficult to get along with? These are not the types of questions you want your resume to evoke. Your resume should show that with each new job, you’ve gained more responsibilities, developed new skills, and grown in wisdom, knowledge, and leadership.

3. Use powerful verbs and adjectives

It’s amazing how effective certain verbs or adjectives can be at intensifying the impact of a sentence.  Remember, the hiring manager is reading dozens—if not hundreds—of resumes. After a while, clichés like “strong leader,” “team player,” and “hard worker” all start to blur. So instead of using the same old, tired descriptions, get a thesaurus ready, and spice things up. Instead of writing “my leadership skills are excellent,” say, “I have sharpened my leadership style into a tool of inspiration.” Not only will the switch from passive to active voice win you points, but the use of unexpected verbs and adjectives will also give you a noteworthy edge.

4. Integrate numbers and statistics

Another way to avoid falling into the trap of insignificance is to back up your claims with hard evidence.  Don’t just say you were instrumental in helping the company grow—give specific details such as how profits rose 8 percent in your first year or how you and your team landed a $3 million account. If you’re unsure of what the exact numbers are, do some subtle research. Having the numbers to back up the words can go a long way in making your resume stand out from the pack.

5. Try a narrative resume

Narrative resumes provide a means of framing your experience and qualifications in the form of a story.  Instead of just listing the essentials, you transform them into traditional story elements like characters, plot, setting, and theme. While not all potential employers will be impressed with this unique approach, those who “get it” will be anxious to set up an interview and learn more—especially if you leave them with a cliffhanger.

Ultimately, if you want your resume to jump out at the hiring manager, you’re going to have to put in some extra thought and effort. You cannot expect your resume to grab the employer’s attention if it looks and reads like everyone else’s. Try the tips discussed here, and you’ll increase your chances of moving on to the next step: the coveted interview!

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market