Oprah Winfrey once said, “The challenge of life, I have found, is to build a resume that doesn't simply tell a story about what you want to be, but it's a story about who you want to be.” All too often, business professionals spend their time focusing more on the interview rather than the resume they intend on utilizing within the interview.
The problem with this is that your face is not the first impression a recruiter is given of you, and neither is your in-person confidence, your direct eye contact, or your firm handshake. What the real first impression almost always is comes in the form of the piece of paper you present them with before the interview even begins.
This paper is not just words on a page, however. It is an embodiment of everything you want a recruiter to know about you, your work ethics, your history, and your future. However, for many business professionals, this paper is nothing more than a “mad lib” populated in relation to some overused online template. Little effort is put into the content, the information is scattered with no true formatting, and the visual appearance is far from ideal. This is a missed opportunity in the making. The recruiter is essentially giving you the perfect opportunity to impress them, and you are handing over the same thing they’ve seen time and time again.
Despite this knowledge, it can be hard to transition your resume to one that will stand out from the countless others in the recruiter’s pile. Fortunately, with a bit of forethought and the tips below, you are sure to make your first impression a positive one and let your personality be the “closer” rather than the “hook.”
1. Use Keywords Associated With Your Industry
As a business professional, keywords are a major part of your digital marketing and personal brand identity online. However, what you may not realize is that keywords can be utilized outside of digital platforms, as well. Although the intended effect may be different, the audience reviewing it will still be the same and the use of these keywords will showcase your extensive knowledge into your particular industry.
A good example of this is to imagine two SEO marketing specialists both applying for the same job. The first one turns in their resume with words like “blog,” “marketing,” and “branding” at the forefront of the page. Although these words are all associated with their particular industry, they are all very broad and simplistic terms that show that the specialist may know about writing, branding, and marketing, but might not know the more technical aspects of the position.
On the other hand, the second applicant turns in a resume with keywords such as “white hat,” “evergreen,” “link building,” and “meta tags.” From the perspective of the recruiter, this applicant knows more about the actual position and is experienced in the deeper layers of SEO than the prior specialist.
This being said, it is important that you truly do research into your industry and determine the most applicable keywords to utilize in your resume for the best results.
2. Use a Modern and Professional Layout
As an adult using a personal email account, you’ve more than likely seen the standard spam email at least a thousand times before. They always begin with an authoritative individual reaching out (prince, military member, IRS agent, etc.) and then ask for help with some kind of highly-lucrative deal that only requires a simple money transfer on your end for millions of dollars in return. What makes these emails so comical and also so easy to recognize? After all, what’s to say there isn’t a prince in Nigeria looking for your help with a million dollar deal?
Well, the answer is simple; the average intelligent person can tell the difference between a template and an actually sincere message. With this in mind, the next step any business professional should take when revamping their resume is to rid themselves of the templating and create an entirely unique resume on their own. Although it may take more time than filling in a free template would, the outcome is more job opportunities and a perfect display of your work ethic.
3. Use Metrics & Infographics to Show Your Success
You’ve probably heard the old saying “the proof is in the pudding.” Well, the same can be said with resumes. Being eloquent and sharing your past successes in text format on your resume may be important, but being able to show just how successful you’ve been through visuals is priceless both for you and recruiters.
Although infographics may not be something you are particular familiar with formatting, luckily, there are plenty of free infographic templates that are rarely seen on resumes. This will make your resume seem completely original (even brilliant) to the recruiter and business.
4. Customize Your Resume to Fit the Job Description
Which resume would you specifically prefer? One that looks like every other resume you’ve seen in your lifetime or one that actually mentions the specific job duties outlined in the job description? Or showing how your ideals and some of your past projects specifically line up with the goals of the company?
The truth is that every resume you send out should absolutely incorporate aspects of the business itself and their company culture into it. By doing this, it shows you are willing to take that extra time to make an impression that lasts. It also shows you did your research on the business and feel it would be a good fit for you.
5. Print Your Resume on Double A Paper
A huge part of business networking is the business card. For some people, their business cards’ appearance and quality material usage is everything. In fact, this obsession with business card appearance has become such a popular topic that even Bret Easton Ellis felt the need to joke about it in his highly-popular novel, American Psycho.
With this being said, it’s no wonder why many successful business professionals put extra time and money into the actual paper their resumes are written on. Although there are many paper brands out there that can get the job done, why not go the extra mile?
By using Double A paper, you are not just utilizing high-quality paper, but also able to boast of their acid-free materials, their bright white colorization, easy-to-print-on and smooth paper quality, and commitment to sustainability. This shows the recruiter that you are a risk taker willing to go above and beyond, all whilst caring about the world around you as well.
6. Always Send Your Resume with a Cover Letter
Imagine you were given an amazing burger and you could smell the scent of delightfully crisp fries in the air that would accompany it perfectly, but none of them were on your actual plate.
Just as this would be a letdown to you in a restaurant, receiving an outstanding resume without a cover letter is a massive letdown to a recruiter. Although they can infer more about you from your resume alone, a cover letter is a chance for you to tie this resume into your actual personality and give a bit more insight into the person behind the list of achievements and infographics.
By doing this, you ultimately make your actual person-to-person interview the final piece of the puzzle instead of the most integral piece. By the time you walk through those doors, they know exactly what to expect and are highly impressed already. All that’s left is to let your confidence and friendliness shine through, and the position is sure to be yours.
In the end, the key to making your resume stand out is an understanding of who you are, what you want in life, how this business connects to this overall desire, and a bit of personalization and hard work. With this combination, you can begin seeing the results you are looking for and getting the positions you desire in no time.