Writing Resumes that Stand Out

President,  Berman Larson Kane
President, Berman Larson Kane

Writing Resumes that Stand Out

The most important thing to know about resumes is that you want to have one that stands out from the crowd – a resume that is singled out by recruiters, makes a great impression with employers at job fairs, and makes you feel proud to present yourself  when responding to internet job listings.

It’s easier than you think to make your resume stand out. Employers rarely receive high quality resumes, even though an average mid-sized company accumulates thousands of these documents every week. According to recruiters, typical resumes have not been proofread for basic spelling and grammar mistakes-and they include too much data or too little pertinent information. That’s why most resumes are left unread, unacknowledged, and eventually discarded.

This leaves you with a great opportunity to gain a competitive edge in the job market by writing an error-free resume. So, market your competencies in a clear and creative manner, summarize your experiences, and turn any opportunity into a bona-fide offer.

According to an article on Careerbuilder.com by Helene Lauer, an independent HR consultant, these three simple procedures will push your resume across the line from mediocrity into excellence:

Analyze your skills
First and foremost, distinguish yourself by examining what you have to offer. Do some soul searching and think about how your background relates to the skills, competencies, and qualifications that your target employers most want. Gather job-specific information by reading sample job descriptions and by interviewing others who already have these jobs. Now you are able to develop accomplishment statements that match the job you really want.

Look at each job and/or school experience you’ve had and prepare a list of your accomplishments-experiences that describe a situation that required special attention. These were the action steps that you took to solve a problem-and the result you achieved. Write out these accomplishments in detail; then rewrite them so they are concise enough for a resume, which should be limited to two pages or less. An example could the following: “Launched a product marketing program that resulted $3 million in company sales for a one-year period, contributing significantly to my employer’s revenues.”

Decide on a format
Now you must position your qualifications in an effective, appealing, and professional way. To do this, you need to first decide on the type of format you’re going to use — chronological or functional. Most employers prefer the chronological resume because it emphasizes career progression and dates of employment. The functional resume emphasizes accomplishments and eliminates the details behind the job history. This may seem like the best option for most jobseekers-until they find out that employers are likely to disregard functional resumes. Why? Because companies always need to know your employment history facts.

In reality, though, you don’t need to choose one format over the other. Instead, you can create your own resume format that integrates the best features of both styles. Experiment by organizing the pertinent and required information.

At the top, it’s a good idea to develop a summary or profile statement. You might incorporate some brief distinctive characteristics about yourself here, as well, or include them in a separate paragraph or section titled personal characteristics.

The rest of the resume could be structured in a typical chronological fashion, emphasizing real accomplishments at every past job. Or you could highlight the accomplishments that apply to the job you are targeting and include them at the beginning of the resume. Then balance the rest of your document with a chronological work history, including dates and job titles. In short, you should develop a personalized, comfortable format.

Also, don’t mention personal characteristics such as age, height and marital status. List your hobbies and interests only if you can relate them to the position you’re applying for, keep the phrase “references available upon request” off the resume, and avoid “objective” statements at the top-your objective should be clearly articulated in a well-written.

Create a Strong Visual Impression
Having settled on content and style, you should now pay attention to the visual impact of the resume.

Graphic designers and professional resume writers advise you to settle on one font style. When using boldface type, be consistent and conservative. If you are not, the reader’s eye will jump around, and the purpose of emphasizing one piece of information over others will be lost.

Many experts recommend using boldface type for job titles and leaving the names of employers in plain type. Use upper case, or capitalization, in a consistent manner, always capitalizing your name and job titles. Also, use normal margins allow for breathing room between different sections.  Beyond a few graphic recommendations like these, feel free to experiment.

You don’t have to be a creative genius to write a memorable resume. Tricks and gimmicks usually don’t work, because employers want to know who the candidates are. Understanding and expressing your marketability and presenting yourself in a professional and readable manner, will give you an extra edge.