Did you know that the average job has 250 applicants? That’s a big number. This is why you’ll want to stand out from the very beginning. Here are some tips that will help you make your resume stand out!
It took me almost all of senior year in college and six months after graduation to land an offer for a job that I wanted. Throughout that process, my resume went through a ton of editing and re-editing. These are the tips that helped me make my resume stand out and land a job.
Be sure to check out my Ultimate Interview Guide and read about how I got my job in Big Tech without any internship experience.
5 simple steps to make your resume stand out in the applicant pool.
1. Optimize With Format
Recruiters go through dozens of resumes each day. You’ll want to make sure your resume is formatted to best showcase your skills and experience. Formatting is a simple way to make your resume stand out on a first impression.
Here are some formatting tips:
- Choose a clean font
- Always stick with a font that’s easy to read
- My go-to font is Calibri
- Use shorter sentences
- Compound sentences are tiring to read
- Add bullet points
- Break down your experience summaries with single sentence bullet points
- Use typographic hierarchy
- Font size, caps lock, bold, and italics can draw the eye. But use this sparingly to avoid clutter!
- Use page breaks
- Add lines between sections (education, work experience, volunteer experience, etc.) to keep everything looking organized
This is an example of a resume found on Ivy League school, UPenn’s Wharton School of Business.
My resume is built off of the format that UPenn’s Wharton School of Business recommends for undergraduates. I’ve changed a few things around since graduation, but it still looks pretty similar.
I’ve gotten many compliments on my resume format, so I know it works!
2. Keep the Company in Mind
Just as you do when it comes to interviews, your resume should reflect the culture of the company and role that you are applying for. A resume for a marketing role at BuzzFeed should look completely different from one you submit for an analyst role at Goldman Sachs.
Depending on your company’s culture, you could potentially add a “Hobbies” section into your resume. It’s a great way for your recruiter to get an idea of who you are, and gauge what soft skills you could bring to the company. Keep it simple and clean.
It’s important to be genuine, but do try to stick to hobbies that will show how you fit into the company’s culture and your role. Don’t go for the basic “socializing” or “exercising.” If you can, list hobbies that are relevant to the role!
Pictured below: The “hobbies/interests” section on my resume. Mahjong has been a great conversation starter during my interviews. Guess what–I got the job!
3. Use Action Words
The point of your resume is to showcase what you can bring to the company. To do this effectively, you should start off each bullet point with an action word.
List of Action Words
- For a more extensive list, check out this amazing pdf from UPenn’s career services.
Fix your past/present tenses!
Are your action verbs referring to a previous job or a current one? Make sure it’s reflected in your resume! All previous jobs should have action verbs written in the past tense. Anything you’re doing in your current job should be in the present tense. Double–triple check this!
4. Quantify Your Skills and Driven Results
Include numbers! This was one of the first bits of feedback I received while editing my resume.
Did you plan events for over 300 attendees? Write that down.
Oversaw a marketing campaign that drove over $1,000 in sales, or $400 in sales? Include that, too.
Created a series of tweets for a company account? Write down how many people saw or interacted with your posts!
If you’re a college student, like I was, and your numbers are small, that’s okay.
You’re not expected to be able to drive millions in revenue. As a Committee Head for my residential college, I managed a few thousand dollars in budget every year, but I included that as well.
You want to make sure that you’ve quantified anything that can be quantified. This will ground your skills and experience.
5. No Work Experience? Add a Project Instead
If you don’t have that much work experience yet, don’t fret. We all have to start somewhere!
If this is the case for you, take the space to list any projects you have either completed or are still working on. Did you build an app in your COMP class? Include that, and share the languages and capabilities you used. Wrote a marketing research paper in your business class? Add it!
When I was still starting out, the only experiences I had were tutoring, classroom research projects, and volunteer work. All of those went onto my resume!
Edit the descriptions to emphasize the skills you want to stand out, based on the role you’re applying for.
For example, when I was going for a communications role, I emphasized the communications portion on my research projects. For an analyst role, I emphasized the data collection and analysis part of my research.
Each experience you have can be spoken about in many different ways. Be sure to frame your experiences in a way that is relevant to the job you are applying for.