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Looking for a Job? How to Make Your Résumé Stand Out

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

Now isn’t exactly the ideal time to be hunting for a job.  With the country sunk in a recession, layoffs ongoing, and more college grads than ever vying for positions, you may have a hard time getting an interview, much less an offer of work. Although your résumé might be outstanding (solid education, fair amount of experience, etc.), consider some elements that you’re missing -- how can you spruce up your résumé and make it stand out from the multitude of other applicants cluttering up a desktop in HR? 

Here are a few simple tips to improve your odds.

1. Be picky with paper.

You may not think that colored or scented paper makes a difference, but Ms. Woods of Legally Blonde had the right idea when she carried her signature pink over to her résumé.  You don’t have to get colorful with the pages (although it will literally make your application stand out), but always use a better stock of paper than your standard white printer fare (faux parchment is nice).  This shows that you put thought into every detail and when the hiring manager is flipping through the stack, yours will be easy to spot.

2. Check your qualifications.

Nothing will get your résumé tossed out faster than inadequate qualifications…except maybe being over-qualified.  You probably aren’t out there looking for jobs that are way above your normal pay-grade (because you know you can’t get them).  But if you’re just trying to find ANY job, even one that is a step down (or several) from your experience level, you need to think about how your résumé is going to reflect on you.  By down-playing or removing some experience, you may have a better shot of nabbing a lesser position.

3. Layout counts.

The content of your résumé isn’t the only important consideration; you also need to make it functional and easy to read.  If someone is flipping through 500 applications, they don’t want to have to search to find your qualification, experience, and schooling.  So check out some templates online to find the most effective method of formatting and then give it a little artistic flair by adding some crafty bars or bullet points.

4. Summarize.

Studies show that most hiring managers give a résumé one to two minutes of attention maximum (often they scan them even more quickly) as a result of the inundation of applicants that they’re fielding these days.  So if you want to catch their attention from the get-go, start with a brief summary of the skills and qualifications that would make you perfect for the job they’re offering.  If you catch their interest, you may just score further reading and a coveted spot in the call-back pile.

5. Stay up-to-date.

One of the worst and most common mistakes is posting a résumé online and then never returning to update it.  If you want to stay ahead of the game and impress prospective employers, make sure that your file is current.


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