Hiring managers take as little as 6 seconds to read your resume—less time than it takes to tie your shoelaces. In the competitive job market, it’s critical to make your resume stand out from other applicants and impress the recruiter.
How do you make your resume stand out? Format, style, and content all play a role in helping you impress the hiring manager and secure an interview.
Keep reading to learn tips to make your resume stand out from the competition.
What is a resume?
Your resume is a make-or-break document. It not only lists all your accreditations, skills, and experience but highlights your professional accomplishments, too. It can help you illustrate how you can be an asset to the organization.
You know your resume is important to your job search, so it’s normal to stress about its design, structure, and every action verb. The last thing you want is a forgettable resume that falls through the cracks of the hiring managers’ awareness.
With every new job description, you should change your resume to optimize for skills and keywords listed by the hiring manager. You should take the time to highlight the most prominent keywords in each job description, then adjust your resume to match.
To speed up the process, use Jobscan’s resume scanner for a detailed match report. It shows you which keywords are missing, the level of keyword importance, and an overall score to optimize your resume for ATS.
What does a resume include?
Resumes fall into 3 formats:
- Chronological: Chronological resumes list your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent work history at the top.
- Hybrid: Hybrid resumes feature your skills and accomplishments at the top, followed by your reverse chronological work history.
- Functional: Functional resumes focuses on skills and accomplishments and glosses over work experience. Hiring managers hate functional resumes, so we recommend choosing a chronological or hybrid format.
Whichever resume format you choose, it will include key resume sections to answer all the hiring manager’s questions, from your resume headline to skills and work experience.
Resume headline and summary
Your resume headline and summary are a quick introduction telling the hiring manager who you are and why you’re an ideal candidate. Your headline should include your professional title or the title of the job you’re applying for.
Your resume summary should include 2 or 3 brief sentences stating your key experiences, measurable achievements, and top skills or expertise.
Including the job title you’re applying for in your resume can increase your chance of getting in front of the hiring manager. Using the ATS, they search for the exact title to find resumes that match.
If you’ve never held the role you’re applying to, showcase your relevant skills in your resume that support the job title. Making the connections between other roles, transferable skills, certifications, and education can help the hiring manager picture how your achievements will apply to the role.
Your work experience section is the core of your resume. To make your resume stand out, be specific and intentional about how you tell the story of your career so far.
Here’s an example of a clear work experience that shows the previous role, the company, and employment dates to create a roadmap of a marketer’s career.
Your education can qualify you for a position over other candidates. Whether you have an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, it shows the hiring manager that you have specialized knowledge. Listing the right education for the job description can make your resume stand out.
This is an education section that lists the master’s degree first. The specific areas of study—middle level math and science—make the candidate stand out.
Certifications from online courses or supplemental training also have a place on your resume. Certifications complement the experience, education, and skills sections. They can show the hiring manager increased specialization and skill development.
This example of a certification section illustrates specialized skills that can make the applicant more attractive to a hiring manager for a project management or related role.
Hiring managers want to know if you have the in-demand skills to do the job. Skills and proficiencies shine a spotlight on what you will bring to the new role that directly ties into the responsibilities laid out in the job description.
Hard skills are technical skills specific to the job or industry. Examples of hard skills include:
- Project management
- Graphic design
- Computer software knowledge
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Soft skills are no less critical. They’re people skills, character traits, or behaviors that indicate how well you work with others and handle stressful situations.
They’re sometimes called transferable skills, meaning they can transfer from any job and any industry. Some common soft skills that are in demand include:
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Growth mindset
Read through and identify the hard and soft skills for each job description to ensure you’re adding them to your resume.
A time-saving tool is Jobscan’s resume scanner. Upload your resume and the job description, and the scanner will create a match report to tell you whether you have the right skills to get an interview.
For example, this report illustrates that Google Suite and MS Office skills are missing from the resume. But if you want a chance to secure the interview, you need to add those skills that the hiring manager is searching for.
Tips to make your resume stand out
You need to make your resume stand out from the rest by following a few simple guidelines.
Include only relevant information
Clutter of unrelated skills, education, or experience can take up valuable space on your resume. Instead, focus on information relevant to the job description.
A good way to tell if something is relevant is to study the job description to understand the scope of the role.
Use the same language in your resume as in the job description and you’ll be a strong candidate for the job.
Highlight accomplishments, not just responsibilities
Your day-to-day responsibilities don’t tell the hiring manager much about who you are as an industry professional. Instead, emphasize accomplishments. Measurable performance can help the hiring manager imagine how your achievements can help their organization.
Vague language won’t help you land the job. Use numbers, percentages, or data to back up what you’re saying on your resume, like in the example below.
Your responsibilities show what you did, but measurable achievements show how well you did it. This shows the impact you had in your last role.
Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for
A one-size-fits-all resume doesn’t exist. You need to tailor your resume to the job description, the industry, and the company.
Why does tailoring your resume matter? Most companies are using ATS to help streamline the hiring process. ATS, or applicant tracking systems, is a software that adds your resume to a database. The hiring manager will search the database for suitable candidates by entering keywords from the job description.
Hiring managers input specific keywords, and the ATS will parse your resume to detect them. If you’re missing relevant keywords or skills that the hiring manager searches the ATS to find, they won’t see your resume at all.
To optimize your resume faster and more effectively, use Jobscan’s resume scanner to generate a detailed match report. It pulls critical information from the job description, like keywords and skills the hiring manager is looking for.
Then, it compares the job description to your resume to illustrate what details you’re missing. With this information, you can design tailored resumes that stand out for each job application.
With Power Edit, a Jobscan Premium feature, your match report will offer phrasing suggestions to best integrate important keywords into your resume.
How to make your resume stand out visually
Your resume should be visually appealing, but don’t overdo it. Fancy graphics can confuse the ATS and cause your resume to get lost in the database.
Before you design a stylistic resume, know that a clean resume makes a significant impact on the ATS and hiring manager.
Use standard resume headings
Section headings break up the information to make it easy to skim. But if you don’t use them correctly, the ATS won’t read them. Poor heading choices include:
- My Career Journey
- What I Know
Stick to standard resume headings like:
- Summary or objective
- Work experience
This example uses bolding to help make the document more scannable for the hiring manager. The headings aren’t a place to show off your creativity. Basic headings are mandatory for the ATS.
Use standard resume margins
Avoid trying to pack in more content by widening the margins. It won’t be an ATS-friendly resume, and the hiring manager will never see it.
Instead, stick to the standard guidelines for resume margins. One-inch margins make the ATS happy and are readable for the hiring manager.
- In Microsoft Word, one-inch margins are the default, and you can ensure you’re choosing the right measurement by selecting Layout/Margins/Normal.
- In Google Docs, you can confirm your margin measurements by selecting File/Page Setup.
Best fonts to help your resume stand out
What are the best fonts for your resume? The ATS and hiring managers prefer clean, crisp, and legible fonts.
The most common and preferred fonts for your resume include:
Using color to help your resume stand out
Is it okay to use color on a resume? Yes, using color sparingly can add visual appeal to your resume.
Color can help your resume:
- Draw attention to the headings
- Show off your creativity
- Fit with the company’s culture
If you’re applying for a creative role or your research suggests the company would appreciate engaging visuals, adding a hint of color can benefit you.
Some industries are more conservative, so dark shades like navy blue, forest green, or maroon are more appropriate for jobs in:
Here’s an example of using color to make your resume stand out without overwhelming the hiring manager.
Read more: Should You Use Color on Your Resume?
Use templates to make your resume stand out
Resume templates can still be personalized and attention-grabbing. You can make your resume stand out by customizing a template to include all the relevant information in a structured, ATS-friendly resume format. Templates save you time and helps ensure your resume is clean and readable.
Use Jobscan’s free ATS-friendly resume templates and start building your resume that gets noticed by recruiters!
Common resume formatting mistakes
The format of your resume is critical for the ATS. Your resume needs consistency and simplicity for the ATS to decipher the content. Some common mistakes people make on their resumes for ATS include:
- Not using the right date formatting: acceptable formats are MM/YYYY, like (04/2023) or fully spelled month and year, like April 2023.
- Using acronyms or abbreviations: don’t use them alone—the hiring manager will often search the entire term, as in “client relationship management” over “CRM.”
- Adding graphics: the ATS can’t extract information from design elements and, once uploaded to the ATS, they can scramble your resume formatting.
How to make a resume stand out to hiring managers
When your resume reaches a person, you have to pique their interest in under 6 seconds. So, how can you make your resume stand out to the hiring manager?
Know what the hiring manager is looking for
Every hiring manager has different goals. Even if you’re applying to several identical roles, each organization will emphasize a need for unique qualifications.
Reading the job description isn’t enough to understand the hiring manager’s needs. Go to the company website and read the mission statement, the company’s core values, and the team members’ biographies to help your resume fit the culture.
Most job descriptions are comprehensive—providing information about:
- The company mission
- The role
- The must-have qualifications
- The nice-to-have proficiencies
Going the extra mile can take more time, but catching the most minor details is worth it.
Keep it concise
An overcrowded resume is challenging to read. White space makes your resume easy to skim and lets the hiring manager find information quickly.
Read the job description carefully, and if there are details in your resume that don’t support what the hiring manager is looking for, remove them.
A time-saving way to compare is Jobscan’s resume scanner. After scanning your resume and the job description, it will generate a match report to illustrate where you’ve integrated keywords and where they’re missing.
This example keeps every point short, but impactful. You want every point to have a purpose, so be ruthless with your editing.
Review and proofread
You’ve hit all the keywords, your resume is formatted, and everything is relevant and clean—don’t let a spelling or grammatical error make your resume stand out in a negative way.
Whether you run it through a grammar checker, read it out loud to yourself, or let your friend check it for an objective read-through, review it until you’re confident there are no mistakes.
Ask yourself a few questions in your review:
- Are you using strong action verbs?
- Are your accomplishments measurable?
- Is everything relevant?
- Is it designed with the ATS in mind?
- Will it be appealing to the hiring manager?
- Is it concise and clean?
When you answer “yes” to these questions, you’re ready to submit your resume.
How do I make an impressive resume with no experience?
It’s common to ask how to make your resume stand out with no experience. You can make your resume impress the hiring manager, even without experience, by highlighting a few key points:
- Relevant education
- Relevant experience
- List your relevant skills
- Include a strong resume summary
Use a resume template to help guide your formatting and create an stand-out resume.
What is a good objective for a resume with no experience?
If you’re a new grad or starting in the workforce looking for an entry-level job, you can still create a solid resume objective that stands out to hiring managers:
- Read the job description to identify important keywords to use in your objective.
- Use impactful action verbs and measurable accomplishments related to your relevant part-time job, volunteer experience, or course projects.
- Promote yourself, show off your character, and highlight your skillset, even if you have no practical industry experience.
How do I make a resume?
Building a resume from scratch is time-consuming, and you can’t be sure your resume is ATS-friendly.
You can use an ATS resume template that suits your industry and personal preferences and easily add your personal information, work experience, education, certifications, and skills.
Find our resume examples to help you make your stand-out resume with ease.
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