How to makes your resume outstanding? First, I think a resume must have the basics to just stay in the competition. See my post on top 10 effective resume tips first. Assuming you have done that already on your resume, then an outstanding resume is one that is TAILORED t to the job you are applying. Yes, to stand out, you have to tailor your rsume for every type of job you are applying for and preferrably every single position if time permits.

Here are 4 additional ways to make your resume an outstanding resume.

  1. Add Relevant Key words:find out what are the key buzz words that are associated with the job you are applying. Go through the job posting and pick out key words they used and then try to fit those words in your resume. Companies today often do a search on key words for resumes before any humans look at it.  An outstanding resume is one that is easy to read and describes your experience in words that fit the job description.
  2. Reposition Experiences: don’t make the recruiter do the work of linking how your experiences makes you a good candidate for the job. Do it for them in your resume.  Look at the job you are applying and ask yourself what experiences are needed for that job. Then look at your resume and see what experience you have that fits.  Be creative as long as you don’t lie. For example, a person with many years of consulting experience can still do a great resume for a product manager job. One of the skills a product manager needs is being able to own and drives the success of the product (i.e., budget responsibilities, setting strategic direction, marketing, etc…). A manager in a consulting firm has to run projects within budget, set strategic direction for clients. and possibly could also have experience developing a practice for the consulting firm.  All could be reworded in the executive summary and details to stand out in the resume. Once you get the interview, you can continue to tell the same story.
  3. Leave out some:  An outstanding resume does NOT need to include all your experiences.  Be very light on the experiences or leave them out all together if they do not help you build your case. I have 6 years of experience in marketing and about 5 years in system integration work. For a marketing position, I probably devote 80% of my resume of my 6 years of experience and the rest on how the other 5 years is somehow relevant to that marketing job. I am not saying you can’t have any that are not relevant, but the majority should be somehow helping your build the case for why you are an outstanding candidate for this job.
  4. Warm lead:  Doing the above will definitely increase your chance of standing out. Another excellent way outside of updating your resume is have someone within the company submit it for you. Time and time again networking is key to finding a good job. A “warm” lead to a job is always going to receive more attention and will make your resume outstanding as a result.

Good luck out there!   I look forward to your comments.  I am always in your corner.

-Lei

4 Thoughts on “4 Ways to Make an Outstanding Resume

  1. Judy Huang on June 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm said:

    Just a quick note here about resume length. Since we all got some experience under our belt, our resumes can be longer than one page. However, it should still not be a laundry list of the things you have done. I would say 2 – 3 pages are fine.

  2. Awesome suggestions by everyone! I’ve been a corporate recruiter for 10 years now, and I wish I could say I see more resumes like yours. More often than not, I see resumes that don’t follow these fundamental key points. I hope more people discover this blog, and follow the invaluable advise provided by you fine people.

    The only other thing that comes to mind from a recruiter’s perspective is if a candidate has worked for a company that’s not well-known, then add a one-sentence blurb about it so a recruiter can surmise what industry the candidate has worked in and how big (or small) the organization was (i.e., XYZ Company…then beneath it, “A $400 million publicly traded consumer products company in the toy industry”). Recruiters look through hundreds of resumes a day, and if you include little pieces of valuable information like that, that the Recruiter might not have otherwise known, you might have saved your resume from being tossed aside.

    Emily

  3. Aftab Loya on June 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm said:

    These are great suggestions, guys! There are two points that I cannot stress enough.

    – Don’t make your resume an alphabet soup, i.e. full of acronyms.

    – Emphasize results with numbers, like increased sales by 20%. That will make them tangible, and real.

  4. Tamara Carleton on May 30, 2009 at 9:57 pm said:

    My friend Lei raises several valuable points about writing resumes. I read a snappy statement once that still rings true: a resume is a marketing piece, not a career obituary. Tell enough about yourself that will excite both the HR recruiter and boss to bring you in for a job interview.

    I would add a few other tips to help job seekers:

    * Add a job objective: A short line (10 words or less) that explains your job objective shows purpose, clarity and focus. Without specifying company names, this is the place to explain what type of position you desire (e.g., product manager) in what field (e.g., medical devices) in what location (e.g., greater Boston area).

    * Emphasize results: Remove everything that starts with “responsibilities included …” and replace it with on-the-job accomplishments. Most employers are eager to know if you can deliver similar results for them.

    *Explain job gaps: Employers want to be reassured that you’re a reliable hire. One line can suffice to explain any missing time between positions, such as “Maternity leave and family management”, “Travel and study”, or “Full-time student.”

    * Combine many small positions: If your job history has a series of similar short-term jobs, then group them together. It will show continuity and help improve readability.

    * Adjust job titles: Ultimately, your resume is to help the employer understand what you can do for them, not be an exhaustive report. Where it makes sense, modify past job titles that would be more appropriate or logical in their eyes, such as “Administrative Assistant (Office Manager)”.

    * Use the right format: Choose the Chronological format, if you’re staying in the same field (especially if you’ve been upwardly mobile). Choose a Functional format, if you’re changing fields, because a skills-oriented format shows off your transferable skills better and takes the focus off your old job titles.

    * Avoid gimmicks: As a rule of thumb, don’t print on parchment paper, use cute icons, or do multi-column layouts. You want to project a professional image, and research studies show that a classic presentation always wins.

    * Remember the cover letter: If the resume is your living room, then the cover letter is the front door. A cover letter invites a reader to step into your world and read the fine print. Always consider including a cover letter, which summarizes the top 3-4 ways your background directly addresses the main qualifications in the job posting.

    Every year, I continue to change and improve my resume. Be willing to rework own your resume constantly. It’s almost a regular meditation — requiring both strength of will and inner peace about who you truly are. As Buddha noted once, “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

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