Make your resume stand out

Recruiters check them over for a mere six seconds. Make sure you grab their attention immediately.

Make your resume stand out

Write a great resume with these tips.

It’s a cruel work world. You spend weeks obsessing over what to put on a resume, fiddling with the fonts, losing sleep over the layout. You check it over a million times before sending.

Recruiters check it over for a mere six seconds. They scan only a few parts, that’s if they read it at all, before they decide to keep or trash it. We take longer than that to gargle in the morning, comb our hair, walk to the kitchen from the bedroom, wake up the kids, put on the coffee, and other mundane tasks.

Your career dreams can be over without much more than a glance if your resume doesn’t stand out and hit all the right notes. Don’t blame it on the recruiters: “As a job seeker, you need to understand how many resumes a hiring manager or recruiter looks at in one day. For each position, they might read hundreds of resumes. After a while, they all begin to blur together,” offers up career expert Heather Huhman.

It’s up to you to craft a resume that grabs that is an attention-grabber—in an appropriate way—to get a real leg up against the competition. A resume is specific to job searching and not more than one page long; it’s not a colourful, novel-length bio espousing your expertise, references and recommendations.

“Seeing a creative resume gives hiring managers a break from the monotony. They want to read and devour your resume because it’s refreshing to them,” says Huhman, an experienced hiring manager who has seen her fair share of resumes—good, bad and ugly.

We all know that your resume has to be customized for each job target with keywords from the job listing, and the skills that they want the most need to be prioritized. The skills section on your resume has to speak loud and clear that you’re a great fit, so it survives the six-second life span and gets rewarded with an afterlife.

Resume-writing tips

Incorporating graphics makes your resume more visually-pleasing. Graphs or charts that put your previous successes into an easy to understand context makes them stand out. For instance, if you’ve increased sales by 25% in your last role, a line graph showing that increase makes it more interesting than simple text.

Erase all the boring and unnecessary things that don’t apply to the position. For instance, unless your location is a requirement for the job, there’s no reason to include your home address. It’s rare that a company will need to mail you anything as part of the hiring process, so starting your resume with useless information immediately encourages the reader to trash it.

Consider an alternative format that’s appropriate for the position. For example, if the job is for an event planning company, you could design the resume to look like an invitation to an event. That gives you the chance to show the hiring manager how you can actually apply your skills in the job.

A resume is an opportunity to tell a story. Even though it’s organized in bullet points, it’s possible to show your development and the tale that goes along with it. Format your resume so that the sections build upon each other and tell a story of who you are as an employee.

What not to put on your resume

While you have 30 seconds to make an excellent first impression in person, resumes can make or break your chances of getting an interview in mere seconds. Learning what to put on a resume is important, but so is learning what not to put on a resume. Take it from a pro: “Don’t include irrelevant, personal information,” says Heather Huhman.

These five tips will help you move to the front of the line:

Keep out your age. If you don’t want to be discriminated against because of your age – this applies to young and old - remove age giveaways, such as your graduation date.

Don’t reveal personal preferences. Your marital status, religious beliefs, sexual preference, etc. likely have nothing to do with the job you’re interviewing for, so don’t include them.

Pass over your hobbies. It’s one thing to mention your hobbies in a job interview, it’s another thing to include them on your resume. If it’s not relevant to the job, it’s a waste of space.

Don’t mention reasons for employment gaps. Employment gaps are common, but your resume is not the place to explain.

Forget what you look like. It’s true that resumes are becoming much more visual, but including a photo of yourself is tacky and distracting.

You know what to put on a resume, but maybe you're still feeling unsure about how it looks. Need some advice? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression.