As more and more young people graduate from universities and enter the work force, labor supply continues to swell to gigantic proportions. Trouble is, available jobs – meaningful ones at least – aren’t growing at a similar rate. This means opportunities to land your dream gig continue to become less available. And if you’re not an entrepreneur type of person and are living in a first world country where most jobs can already be outsourced to less developed countries for a fraction of the price but similar or better quality, you’re probably feeling the crunch right now.
That being said, it’s important that you’re able to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the job-seeking masses! You need to be as tall – figuratively of course – as Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks), Roy Hibert (Charlotte Hornets) and Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), all of which are NBA players that stand at least 7 feet tall! Your prospective employers must be able to quickly single you out from the rest of the pack as much as you can easily spot those 3 NBA players in any crowd. To do that, your resume must be one that stands out like a 7-foot NBA player in a crowd of regular people. Let’s take a look at 15 tips that can make your professional resume stand out from the rest of the job-seeking masses.
The Right Content
When I talk about right content, I am talking about your actual work experiences and previous jobs held. To this extent, making wise career choices right from the start is crucial. And how do you do this in practical terms?
Decide where do you really want to be in your career 5 to 10 years from now? Think even further – what do you want to have accomplished by the time you retire? Why is this important? If you don’t have a clear picture of where do you want to go, you run the risk of going for the wrong jobs and worse, you’ll be hopping from one job to another, and from one industry to another. Nothing else can make your resume stand out from the crowd like a sore thumb – not a very good way to stand out – is to have a very spotty employment or work experience record.
So from this point onward, choose wisely what you want your professional resume to eventually reflect!
Before even sending a generic, one-type-sent-to-all resume, you must think twice. Why? Your professional resume won’t catch the attention of your prospective employers if their recruitment personnel can’t see how relevant your skills and experiences are to the open job. Ensure that your resume highlights or communicates to them that your skill sets and work experiences are exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t send the same resume you gave when you applied for a job as a coffee shop barista when you apply for the position of a sales person. Unless you’ll be able to justify how skills involved in being a barista can be transferred to sales and make you a good sales person.
So pay attention to the actual ads. There, you can see what employers are looking for in the applicants for particular positions.
Leave out the Irrelevant Stuff
Many of the job-seeking masses strongly believe with all their heart, mind and soul that when it comes to their perfect professional resumes, the more (content) the merrier. Now I don’t want to burst their – or your – bubble but that belief isn’t entirely right. Yes, the more the merrier but only if the contents are relevant to the job at hand.
Next time you prepare your resume, leave out irrelevant details like where you studied pre-school (or even elementary), your interests (how’s your love for vandalizing your neighborhood walls with “street art” relevant to your sales manager application?), and your friendly neighborhood neighbor of the year award (is it even important for any job application?), among others. Make your professional resume a lean, mean, job-seeking machine and stand out from the job-seeking masses!
Not Just Your Job But Your Accomplishments
One of the things most of the job-seeking masses do when it comes to preparing their resumes is focusing on their job descriptions rather than accomplishments descriptions. If you’re an accountant and your resume merely describes what you do or did in your current or previous jobs – bookkeeping and preparing financial statements for example – then you’re just the same as all the other accountant applicants! But if you were able to cut down the financial statements preparation time from 10 days to only 5, that will surely set you apart from the crowd in the eyes of your prospective employer.
Now, don’t commit the crime of perjury by describing accomplishments that aren’t real. Be honest because that’s the right thing to do. That’s why you need to really focus on making wise career decisions and always giving your best in each and every job.
Related to tip #3, describing your accomplishments using numbers is much better than using qualitative descriptions. In the previous example, saying you were able to cut down the time needed for preparing financial statements from 10 to only 5 days is much better than saying you were able to help the company prepare their financial statements much quicker because your prospective employer can see in their minds’ eyes how it actually looks like.
Using industry-related terms and buzzwords in your professional resume – words like “managed”, “leveraged”, and “liquidity”, among others for example – in their natural contexts and without overdoing it can help you appear very competent and experienced in your field. Industry-related buzzwords and terms communicate that you’re well versed in your field. Again, just don’t overdo it.
Pleasant to the Eyes
What I mean by this is your resume should be error-free (spelling and grammar as well as key dates and figures) and should be very easy and pleasant to read. Nothing else spells I-N-C-O-M-P-E-T-E-N-T than a resume full of spelling and grammatical errors. And a professional resume that at first sight looks very hard to read – very small fonts, poor organization of sections, and resume format used – increases your risk that the recruitment personnel won’t even bother to finish the first page of your resume, considering there are many other resumes to read. First impressions do last.
Use your Head(er)
Putting a header at the top of your professional resume that speaks clearly and concisely of what you’re about in relation to the job your applying for can easily grab the attention of your prospective employer and make you stand out because at first sight, they already have an idea of who you are relative to the open position. As such, they’ll immediately single you out from the masses and shortlist you for the job. An example of this would be:
INTERNATIONAL MARKETING STRATEGIST
Summary and Objectives
Your recruiters aren’t just interested in who you are professionally, i.e., what you have to offer them, but also in what they can offer you in terms of your professional or career goals. That being said, another way of helping them get to know you quickly and stand out from the crowd is by including your career summary and/or objective.
Many recruiters are hesitant to hire very qualified people whose career goals are way off from what their companies can offer because they are concerned that it won’t be long before another company that’s more aligned with their career goals and objectives will come along and pirate that person. Also, recruiters believe that a person with no career objectives will be one that’s not driven – a mediocre one. And mediocrity won’t make you stand out positively from the other applicants.
Be a Professional
When I say be a professional, I mean stick to facts. When providing information about previous employers, especially reasons for leaving, don’t say anything positive or negative about them – just state the facts. If the company’s poorly run and is losing money for example, you can write it as “continued operating losses”.
If you say something negative, you give your potential employer the impression that you can do it to them too and will not consider you for shortlisting.
Except if the industry or company you’re looking for is a very informal and creative organization and the job opening requires someone who exudes a lot of creativity, then it’s best to keep your resume’s format or style simple but elegant. In other words, keep it business-like. Can you imagine sending a professional resume whose background color is pink and font colors are red and green to one of the top accounting firms in the city? I don’t think so. But it can work if you’re applying for an events management or a graphic design company, but those are rare. If in doubt, KISS – Keep It Simple and Sweet.
Many HR practitioners make it a habit not to even read the first page of many applicants’ resumes if they don’t have cover letters. That being said, it’s best you include one in your professional resume. So unless your prospective employer explicitly tells applicants not to include cover letters, which is very rare these days, then write one to supplement your standout resume.
A Picture Paints A Thousand Words About You
If you’ll attach a picture to your resume, which is pretty much standard, then make sure your picture is one that will really sell you well to your prospective employer. If you can afford to, have one taken at a professional studio so you’ll look really good and professional. Wear something business-y or professional for your picture so you’ll exude credibility and integrity. Don’t make the mistake of simply cropping, cutting and pasting one of your personal pictures on the head of a business suit. For your sakes, please don’t!
So Does A Video
A very unique way to make your professional resume stand out, especially if you’re sending it online, is shooting a video profile that summarizes who you are in relation to the job you’re applying for. Because creating good video profiles take a lot of creativity, wisdom, skill, and confidence, your recruiter won’t be able to get you out of his or her mind – you’re an immediate stand out from the rest of the job-seeking masses as a result! Just make sure it’s not long and dragging, probably about 1 to 2 minutes long tops and very lively. To get a good idea of what I’m talking about, check out very good video profile on YouTube.
Sometimes, Get Out of the Box
While the previous 14 tips are general strategies, there may be times you’ll need to go against the flow and go with your gut feel. If you know extremely well what makes your potential employer tick, then by all means create your resume around those things. Sometimes, you need to take risks to get great rewards. Just do so occasionally and with great care and wisdom.