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Build Your Career Get the Job

10 Simple Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Your résumé, whether viewed on your LinkedIn profile, in an emailed PDF attachment or even as a paper document, is often the first impression a potential employer gets of you. You want to put enough information to prove that you're qualified, but you don't want to bore the hiring manager with pages of useless bullet points and details. To help you strike the right balance, Business News Daily rounded up some of the best expert tips — including some surprising ones — for crafting a résumé that will stand out and land you an interview.

Tailor your keywords

10 Tailor your keywords

Most employers use applicant-tracking systems to identify qualified candidates. Make sure you're showing up on their radar by using the right keywords on your application materials.

"Many résumés today are screened first by an automated system and then by a recruiter before they ever make it to a hiring manager's desk," said Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated. "Therefore, it's even more important than ever to tailor your résumé to the position you're applying for. It's equally as important to make sure that keywords from the job description also appear in your résumé."

"A properly written and professional résumé will mirror the candidate described in the job posting by employing the right keywords, the right job functions and the right aesthetically pleasing format," added Wendi Weiner, a certified professional résumé writer and owner of The Writing Guru. "Results and accomplishments will accentuate the job functions, while core skills will enable the résumé to be keyword-rich in content and a structured format with the right headings will draw the reader's attention." Photo Credit: To do list image via Shutterstock

Keep it concise

9 Keep it concise

A common piece of résumé-writing advice is to keep it to a single page. A mid- or senior-level applicant can certainly be forgiven for going a bit over this "standard" length, but in general, one page is a good rule of thumb.

"Less is more," said Cristin Sturchio, global head of talent at the business research firm Cognolink. "Why have two pages when you can have one? Why say it in 12 bullet points when you can say it in 10? Write clear, concise sentences that make your point and save the detail for the interview. If it takes a hiring manager too long to figure out what you did, he or she will likely move on."

"[Whether your résumé is] being reviewed by a recruiter, team lead, developer or CEO, they need to be able to skim it and get the gist," added Elizabeth Hall, vice president of people at project management solution Trello. Photo Credit: Raywoo/Shutterstock

List your social media profiles

8 List your social media profiles

It's a well-known fact that many hiring managers today search for potential candidates on social networks. Save them a step by providing your profile links on your résumé. Seasoned applicants with an existing professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.

"If, and only if, your social media accounts are filled with professional posts pertaining to your industry, listing them on your résumé can be advantageous," said Richie Frieman, author of "Reply All [And Other Ways to Tank Your Career]" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013). "They can show you have a strong network and are up to speed with modern-day marketing and communications practices. The hiring manager will see that you like to keep up with what's happening, and that you care about learning more." Photo Credit: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.com

Use quantifiable data

7 Use quantifiable data

You might not think numbers and percentages are important when listing your job accomplishments, but potential employers want to see exactly what your contribution was to your current or previous company.

"Find a way to support what you did with numbers that demonstrate you are a results-oriented individual," Sturchio told Business News Daily. "'Made outbound calls to generate donations from alumni' tells what you did. 'Made 150 outbound calls to alumni that resulted in $12,500 in donations' tells what you achieved."

Charley Polachi, managing partner of Polachi Access Executive Search, recommended taking an "alpha and omega" approach when figuring out how to incorporate this information into your résumé. What was the state of the company when you joined and where is it today? For example, you can write, "Added 10 new clients in two months," or "Improved sales by 15 percent last quarter."

Photo Credit: Budget Image via Shutterstock

Discuss your side projects

6 Discuss your side projects

Even if potential employees are working on side projects unrelated to the full-time job they are seeking, it may be worthwhile to include those efforts on a résumé. Any kind of side venture, side business or project that could be indirectly related to the full-time work you're pursuing is a good idea, said Dana Leavy-Detrick, a small business consultant at Aspyre.

"This is a great way to show employers that you're using your own time to acquire and grow skills outside of the job that will help you develop and contribute in the long run," Leavy-Detrick said. "It's also a great way for job seekers to engage in the type of work and learn the type of skills that really interest them." Photo Credit: User-entrepreneur innovation image via Shutterstock

Create a QR code

5 Create a QR code

If you're looking for a tech job, using a QR code (Quick Response code, or matrix barcode) on your résumé to link to relevant portfolio documents or social profiles is a unique way to demonstrate your coding skills.

"Even if the QR code only contains a link to the person's LinkedIn profile or phone number, it shows a comfort level [with] and knowledge of technology," said Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing. Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com

Leverage your failures

4 Leverage your failures

The last items you'd think belong on your résumé are the things you did wrong at your last job, but one expert says featuring your failures can actually help you get a job.

"One non-intuitive thing employers want to see on a résumé is failure," said Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered.com. "Employers want to see that you've tried, failed and learned from your failure, all on a prior employer's dime. This demonstrates innovation, willingness to teach risks, [and] faster reaction and response time. It is also a learning experience, and failure teaches success." Photo Credit: Thumbs down image via Shutterstock

List your low-level jobs

3 List your low-level jobs

Even if you think that some of your past jobs are trivial, one expert says they may still help you get a job. Cody Teets, author of "Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers that Began at McDonald's" (Cider Mill Press, 2012) said employers know that working at a fast-food restaurant isn't easy, and it can help a job seeker’s résumé stand out.

Teets, who is now vice president and general manager of McDonald's Rocky Mountain region, said employers value the things that workers learn at their early jobs. At McDonald's, for example, workers learn to operate as part of a team, to challenge themselves and to roll with the punches, all skills that will come in handy at any job. Photo Credit: Tomasz Bidermann / Shutterstock.com

Add in relevant awards or recognition

2 Add in relevant awards or recognition

Have you won any awards for your work in your field, or been officially recognized by industry organizations? List these accomplishments on your résumé.

"One thing that top employers consistently seek out is proof that a given candidate is uncommonly talented or driven," said Mike Junge, a recruiting, staffing and career expert. "This is particularly true if the talent or drive is directly relevant to the job at hand, but it's also true for applicants who have competed at a high level in other areas. High-performing companies are always looking for an edge in the marketplace, and having a team of competitive and passionate employees on board can provide a significant advantage." Photo Credit: Trophy image via Shutterstock

Say it in a video

1 Say it in a video

Don't be afraid to ditch the traditional résumé and try something different, one expert says. One option growing in popularity among job seekers is a video résumé.

"Including a link to a video résumé is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd and impress hiring managers," said Josh Tolan, CEO of video interviewing solutions provider Spark Hire. "On video, job candidates can show off their personality, communication skills and ambition. It can help hiring managers get a better insight into the candidate and will allow them to envision how the candidate would fit into the company culture. Employers want to see job candidates who are confident and able to come up with creative solutions to common problems, and video résumés are a great way to demonstrate just those qualities."

Additional reporting by David Mielach, Business News Daily social media contributor.

Photo Credit: Video conference image via Shutterstock

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.