Resume Writing: 10 Tips to Make You Stand Out
1. Use a Template
If you’re new at resume writing, or just a little uncomfortable with it, there are plenty of free templates you can use. Most people use the templates in Microsoft Word, but you can find others online as well. For example, search for “free resume template” in Pinterest and you will find TONS of free resume resources!
2. Play it Safe
You might notice that there are a lot of colorful, unconventional resume templates out there. You should only use these if you are absolutely sure they will be accepted in your field.
For example, if someone applied for an office position with a resume that looked like a Facebook profile, it probably would not go over well with the hiring manager. However, if that person was applying for a social media marketing position, it might be fine.
Some industries welcome that type of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, but the majority prefers white and black, conventional resumes.
3. Use your Full Name
You should always use your full name on your resume, and if you want to include a nickname you should do so in parenthesis. For example, my resume has my name as “Jessica Hill.” If I preferred to be called Jessie, I would either leave my resume with my full name, or I would change it to, “Jessica (Jessie) Hill.”
This tells the employer your full/legal name, while also letting them know that you have a preferred nickname.
4. Use a Professional Email Address
You don’t have to have a business email address, but you should use one that sounds professional. For example, “JustinzGurl08@gmail.com” is not acceptable to put on a resume.
If this is the only type of e-mail address you have, I strongly suggest creating one that includes your first and last name to use for job searching purposes.
5. Include social media!
This one will make you stand out as not many people include social media on their resumes. However, only do this if it would help you in getting chosen for the job.
For example, if your Facebook page has a lot of pictures of you partying, it probably won’t help you in getting the job.
However, if you have a LinkedIn profile that outlines your professional achievements, you should definitely put that on your resume.
(Also, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you should!)
6. Keep it Short & Simple
- The general rule of thumb is that a resume should only be one page. (But if you’re going to include 10 years of work history, obviously that won’t be possible.) For most people, one page is plenty.
- When we learned resume writing in high school, they always made us include references and an “objective” stating what our goal is. Neither of these is actually needed on your resume.References should be listed on a page separate from your resume, and you should only provide them when asked
- Instead of an objective, you should have a “Professional Skills Summary” section, in which you outline your specific skills.This could be computer skills such as Word or PowerPoint, or it could be leadership skills such as training. Anything listed under your skills summary should be separate from your job history; you don’t want the employer reading the same words over and over again throughout your resume.
- Don’t include high school. Everyone goes to high school; it does not make you stand out. If you don’t have any schooling other than high school, then include any training classes or seminars you have visited. If you haven’t done any of those, leave the “education” section off of your resume.If you started college but didn’t finish, the best way to word that is saying, “Earned credits toward a ________ degree” after the school name.
- Don’t list your hobbies. Save those as a topic to discuss in the interview to help you build
rapport. Hobbies should only be listed on your resume if they are relevant to the job. (For example, if it’s a writing job and you have a blog as hobby.)
7. Be Honest!
Don’t lie on your resume. You may think that a white lie is okay, but it will come back to bite you. Depending on what you lied about, you could be fired and even sued. Learn how to sell yourself with the truth.
If you don’t have the qualifications for the job, mention that up front in your cover letter and tell them why they should hire you anyway.
For example, a position that I was once interested in required a Bachelor’s Degree, and I only had 2 Associate’s Degrees at the time. So my cover letter said something like, “Although I don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree, I do have 2 Associate’s Degrees and 3 years of business management experience.” I would then go on to say why my specific skills and experience make me a better fit than someone who does have a Bachelor’s Degree.
8. Use Resume Paper
I purchase my resume paper at Walmart, and its $8 for about 50 sheets. The paper is off-white, with a brand emblem pressed into the paper. It’s also much thicker than standard printer paper.
Most people don’t do this, and that’s why you should.
Imagine a hiring manager sifting through a pile of thin, white resumes, and then finds one on thick, off-white, pressed paper. Guess which one he or she is going to look at first? You’ve already made a great first impression and they haven’t even read it yet!
9. Always Provide a Cover Letter
A lot of people have trouble writing cover letters, but they are an important part of the application process. Some companies won’t even look at your resume if you don’t have a cover letter to go with it.
When writing a cover letter, remember that you are just explaining why they should hire you. The resume outlines your experience and qualifications, but the cover letter explains why those details make you the best person for the job.
Tell them how you will help their company.
10. Have a Matching Cover Letter, Resume, and References
Always use the same resume template for your cover letter and reference page. This makes you look more organized and professional. And of course, print them all on your fancy resume paper as well! 🙂
My resume has a black line that goes all the around the edges of the page in a rectangle. I used the same black line on my cover letter and reference page as well as the same font.
This way, if the pages get separated, the interviewer knows that they all belong to the same person.
There you go, 10 of my favorite resume writing tips! If you have questions about resume writing (or cover letter writing), leave a comment below and I’ll be glad to help in any way I can.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, and I look forward to your responses! Do you think these tips were helpful? Why or why not?