How to Create a Stand-out Resume

How do you make your resume stand out of the stack? When you’re up against ample—and well-qualified—competition for your dream job, it’s important to make your resume meaningful and memorable so you end up on the short list for an interview.

“Recruiters may review dozens of resumes for each position. You need to stand out from the crowd to capture their attention and keep them reading the document,” said UMUC Career Advising Specialist and board certificated Career Counselor Ann Martin. “Provide a clear focus and a strong opening section that the reader can use to connect you the organizations hiring needs.”

Here’s how to make your resume the one they remember:

Don’t forget: It’s not about you
Today’s employers want to know what’s in it for them. Don’t make them work hard to sift through your information to see if you’re a good fit. If you wax on for two pages about your many accomplishments that have nothing to do with their organization or their open position, you’re resume is bound to land in the circular file.

Instead, try to approach your resume from the mindset of the hiring manager. Filling the position with the right candidate and satisfying the organization’s business needs is their primary concern. Communicate that you are the right candidate for the job by effectively aligning your talents and experience with those needed for the position.

“Employers recruit to fill predetermined positions with stated requirements and parameters,” notes Martin. “You must clearly explain what you have to offer relative to the needs of the marketplace and of the desired position.”

Know what is better left unsaid
What you leave out of your resume can be just as important as what you include. First thing on the chopping block? An informal email address from your 20s that is funny or controversial. Save that one for your old friends, and create new email account that sounds professional to use in your job search.

If you are a seasoned employee, or college graduate, you can also omit your high school information, along with any internships or early entry-level positions.

While you’re at it, remove any typos, grammatical errors or formatting mistakes.   Remember, this is your very first example of a work product, don’t give the employer reason to assume you are careless says Martin.

It’s best to use a consistent tone throughout, describing your experience and skills in plain language so anyone who picks up your resume, regardless of their industry, can understand what you have to offer.

Embrace your creative side – a little
Don’t be a dime a dozen. Focus on your unique skills, and avoid trite, tired, and overused adjectives. Don’t sound like everyone else. Express your unique selling points and show what is special about you and the value you can bring.

“Everyone claims to be hard-working, a great communicator, have attention to detail and such,” says Martin. “Say something unique that differentiates you from the crowd. Then support it with the information in your work history.”

Customize, customize, and customize.
You’ve created a dazzling resume. It’s time to put your feet up and take a break, right? Not so fast. In today’s job market, a single resume won’t do. In fact, be prepared to customize your resume for every job you pursue.

Hiring is position and needs based. Use your information as demonstrate that you have done and can do what that the employer makes.

To accomplish this, save your main resume to use as a template. Then, highlight the areas where you can make simple changes that will make this document relevant to any prospective employer. It’s also a good idea to consider where you could add a bit of color or change the font to appeal to both conservative and creative employers, as needed.

In the end, the effort you put into your resume will help you shine before prospective employers—and yield professional rewards.

For more information on developing an effective resume and to receive feedback on your resume, visit CareerQuest’s resume tools VMOCK and Resunate. These tools provide a real-time analysis and recommendations for improving your resume. For more resume assistance, contact your UMUC Career Services Office at 240-684-2720 or