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5 Ways to Make Your First Resume Stand Out

5 Ways to Make Your First Resume Stand Out
Credit: faithie /Shutterstock

In today's crowded job market, you need a résumé that will help you stand out from the crowd.

This is especially true for new graduates who are entering the workforce for the first time. For employers to give you a second look, your résumé needs to summarize your skills, be targeted for the specific job you want and be error-free, said Wes Lybrand, assistant director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Career and Professional Development Services.

"The purpose of the résumé is to get you to the interview stage of the hiring process, so it should showcase your most relevant skills and qualifications," Lybrand said in a statement. "It should be focused, clear and concise."

Hiring managers often spend only a few seconds reviewing the résumés they receive, so they have to make a quick impression.

"If you don't make an impact in that time, you'll get passed by for the job," Lybrand said. "If you do make an impact, they [hiring managers or recruiters] will at least take a more in-depth look at your résumé." [3 Million Resumes Reveal the Formula for Getting the Job You Want ]

Lybrand offered several tips to help recent graduates and other people entering the workforce for the first time craft the perfect résumé:

  • Target it to the job you want. Don't write a generic résumé that could work for any job. The vast majority of employers think your résumé should be tailored for the position you're applying for, Lybrand said. Be sure to prioritize your skills and qualifications for each job you are trying to land.
  • Choose the right words. Because many employers use computer software to eliminate some applicants, include keywords from the job posting in your résumé to help you get a second look, he said.
  • Proofread. One of the quickest ways to get eliminated from consideration is by having grammar and spelling errors in your résumé. Lybrand said recent research revealed that nearly all employers reject candidates due to these types of mistakes.
  • Be concise. People who are entering the workforce for the first time should stick to a one-page résumé. To save space, eliminate the objective statement and the "References available upon request" line, Lybrand suggested.
  • Highlight your accomplishments. Rather than just listing your experience, highlight what you accomplished in those jobs. Nearly all employers prefer to see verifiable achievements on a résumé because they show how well you performed in past jobs.

In most industries, the current job market favors employers, so it's very important to follow these guidelines, Lybrand said.

"They are often receiving hundreds of applications per position, so you really need to stand out from the crowd," he said.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.