5 ways to make your resume stand out

The job market is a crowded space. So if you want any chance of getting noticed, your resume is going to have to stand out from the crowd.

Luckily, there are still plenty of ways you can get your voice heard above the noise. There are also lots of job seekers out there using interesting, attention-grabbing tactics that you can learn from when you’re looking to apply for your next role.

1. Tailor your resume to fit the job description

After sending off a slew of applications, it may be tempting to simply copy and paste an email template to some recruiters, attach a cookie-cutter resume and put your feet up – but this approach won’t win you interviews. Instead, you need to closely review the job description and mirror its language, addressing the core competencies outlined in the advertisement.

There are many ways to do this, but lying at the heart of all of them is research: learn about the place you’re applying and show them why you’re the best fit for them. In addition, if you’re in a creative job role or industry, include supporting materials such as a portfolio that showcases your abilities.

Some people will also go the extra mile like this interactive resume created by a designer or this slide deck made by a financial analyst. Just remember that these should be an addition to, not in place of your standard resume: infographic-style or specially formatted resumes might be more hassle than they’re worth since recruiters have a specific template for all resumes.

2. Highlight the important skills

There will be lots of ways you can benefit any company you work for, but the beauty of a creative resume is that it focuses on the exact skills you’re able to bring to the table – the ones the company you’re applying to is looking for.

With that in mind, find out what problems you are most able to solve for the company and make sure the skills that solve them are front and foremost in your resume. Eye-catching infographic resumes are a particularly effective way of presenting facts and figures in an engaging format, but first ensure that such resume formats are suitable for the industry you’re hoping to move to. Web product manager Phillipe Dubost went as far as to make an Amazon page advertising himself, which swiftly went viral.

3. Make it clear

Using impressive graphics or a clever gimmick might be an attractive idea, but they should always have a point. Clarity in communication is a crucial transferable skill in any job or industry. If your skills don’t leap off the page in a way that is well formatted and clearly presented, it will be much harder for your prospective employer to get the information they need to make the right hire. If your infographic resume is more ‘graphic’ than ‘info’, you will likely struggle to get the recognition you’re looking for. As an (intentional) example of what not to do, here’s a particularly bad effort

4. Keep it concise

Your resume reflects you and you need to include as much of what shows you off as talented and employable as possible. However, there’s only so much you can include before the person reading will start to glaze over. Focus on the specific skills you have to offer and how they relate to the company you’re applying to. Cut any excess and let the facts you do choose really stand out. Here’s an extreme example to get you started.

5. Follow up

Recruiters and hiring managers are frequently inundated with applicants, so even if yours was impressive and stood out, you may not hear back immediately. The last thing you want to do is pester, but a prompt after 2-3 days to see how things have progressed is well worth doing: it shows that you’re interested in this role in particular, rather than a job in general.