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Resume Tips to Stand Out from the Crowd

In today's competitive job market, it's important that you show employers the benefits of hiring you over someone else. Organizations need to know that you will help them attain their corporate objectives. Your resume is the first step in expressing that message to them. Here are some tips to help you stand out from your peers:

Resume Format: There are various resume formats including: chronological, functional, and a combination of both. Most employers prefer chronological resumes because the format makes it much easier to see the applicant's career progression. This is the format we recommend. The only reason to use the functional format is if you want to change fields and want to use a more skills-oriented format. Even then, we prefer that you use a combination type format. The functional format obfuscates job histories, and forces the reader to view your accomplishments under each appropriate employer. This is something that makes the reader lose interest.

Resume Length: Your resume should be as long as necessary to demonstrate all your experience and abilities. Two, three, even four pages is OK if you have something to say. It should engage the reader, and make him/her immediately pick up the phone and invite you in for an interview.

Style: Use bullet points. This is much easier on the eyes.

Employment Dates: Include month/year for all degrees and for start/finish of all positions held. Using year alone is not recommended since it does not provide a true scope of your employment at a particular company.

Proofread: Make sure to proofread your resume several times and have others proofread it for you. An extra pair of eyes is always helpful. Never rely solely on your computer's spell check tool.

Objective: If you include an Objective, avoid a general objective. Instead, read the job advertisement closely in order to determine what the employer is really looking for, and customize the objective for each individual organization. Your objective should be employer-centered, not self-centered. What's in it for the employer, what will you do for them and their company. If you're not applying for a particular position, it's best not to include an objective.

Summary of Qualifications - this is a quick overview of your experience and accomplishments in a nutshell. List them in bullet points. This should engage the reader enough to want to keep reading the particulars.

Never use personal pronouns or too many self-descriptive adjectives - the interviewer will decide how "dynamic" you are. Don’t tell him/her that you think you are.

Experience/Work History - Include only the most important information about each position. Be specific rather than general in your descriptions using concise and vivid language. Quantify the impact of your actions in your previous positions. Use facts, figures and numbers to help to do this. For example: How many accounts did you work on? List the account names? How many employees did you supervise? What savings did you bring to the company? How much did you grow your accounts? Be sure to include a list of contributions and accomplishments. Find key words and terminology in the job advertisement and be sure to include them in your resume. Don't assume everyone knows about the companies you mention. Give corporate descriptions. Never forget to mention what accounts you worked on and provide some detail about what you accomplished for each important client in such a manner that the reader instantly gets the scope and magnitude of your responsibilities. Don’t simply give a general job description of your position. You want to provide some detail of what you did.

Awards & Special Accomplishments – Be sure to include relevant awards or special recognitions if you have received any. These are “eye catchers” that will keep the reader interested. These designations set you apart from the crowd.

Addressing Gaps – Rather than leaving a gap, it’s best to indicate what you were doing during that time. If you are currently in a gap period, you may want to consider fitting in some volunteer or freelance work along with your job search so the reader sees that you are keeping your skills up to par.

Keywords: The first level of pre-screening of resumes via the internet is done on a keyword basis. You will increase the chances of your resume being searched and reviewed by potential employers if you incorporate key words and phrases that describe core skills required for the type of job you are looking for.

References: Never list your references in your resume. When you establish that you want the job or if you fill out an application form, offer the references at that point. Guard your references and don’t take advantage of their time. They should not be receiving any calls until you have decided that you want the job and you’re a finalist.


Lastly, realize that if your resume establishes you as a stellar thinker and gifted writer, someone will contact you for an interview. If your resume is boring, trite, or pompous; you will continue to look for a job. Keep it honest, interesting, eye-catching, and with just enough detail to let the reader understand the magnitude of your knowledge and experience so they’ll want to know more.