My resume seemed lost among hundreds of other applicants that were directly competing for my dream job. It seemed impossible, was I doomed to return to my old dead end job? Does this sound familiar? How can you stand out and compete for the best jobs?
At ResumeBulletin we decided to drill down to identify exactly what makes great resumes outperform the rest, and we discovered the following 7 surefire things to focus on if you want to stand out from the crowd.
It turns out a little extra effort will go a long way, especially since many resume writers don’t even consider these points.
Some of the most effective ways to get a resume noticed were once standard practice in the past, but have since been crowded out by our digital whiz-bang culture.
For example networking through friends and reaching out in person are great ways to gain an extra edge in the digital age. In fact if you’re clever and determined, you can even recruit friends and family to support and work for you in your job search. Don’t have any friends or family? Then you have an even bigger reason to reach out. Join groups to keep building your network of friends and contacts. No matter what, staying competitive in the job market is essential, and it’s your responsibility to gain an edge and stand out.
Here are the top 7 surefire ways to gain that extra edge and grab that top position.
1. Format vs Content
Can formatting your resume really give you an edge?
We have found that some people who format their resume with a unique style and arrange it in a professional way really do gain a small edge in standing out to recruiters, especially if they print it out.
For example if you are an artist, then you may get more attention by expressing your unique artistic style through your resume’s formatting. If you are a plumber then you could use images of pipes, wrenches and related icons to really stand out and show your dedication to your craft.
One easy but effective trick is to make your website links “live” so they are easier for hiring managers to click on to open up your online content in their browser.
Going the extra mile to help the hiring manager will be noticed and appreciated.
The Content Advantage
Oddly, formatting your resume may not help at all for larger recruiters.
Most resumes you submit to a larger recruiter, or some online sites will be scanned into plain-text. This usually strips away most of the formatting to make them easier for machines to scan for keywords and match them to the recruiter’s search queries.
While formatting is still important in printed correspondence and for the online version of your resume, your written content is the most important aspect of the plain-text version and this is what search engines see.
Your employment history, skills, accomplishments and summary should all tell a story of who you are and what you can do for the company. Don’t be afraid to add personality, but don’t stray from the topic. Stay professional, clear and on point.
To take your content to the next level Study Your Target Company and Add Keywords. (see below)
2. Study Your Target Company
It is important to know everything you can about the company and the job you want to apply for.
Whether you are writing a resume or a novel, learning more about your target audience is going to give you a strategic advantage, because after all your readers are the ones you need to impress.
When studying the company, ask yourself these 4 questions:
1. What are they looking for in a candidate?
2. How can you show them that you understand their needs?
3. How can you help them meet their needs? (Be specific!)
4. How can you back up your claims with proof? (Prove it with your education, experience or references)
The clearer and more specifically you can answer these questions, the better chance you’ll have at gaining a clear advantage over over resumes that are less specific, less relevant and more generic.
Also, the more you know, the more you will be prepared to show off a bit when it’s time for the interview.
When should you show off the most? Ideally at the end of the interview when you are asked if you have any questions.
Use good questions to show off your knowledge. Questions can get them talking which will develop rapport as well as show a high level of interest in them and the position.
Leave the interview with a bang!
Make sure the hiring manager is left with a great feeling about you by being warm and polite during the entire interview. If you want the hiring manager to really remember you in a positive light, make the hiring manager feel great about themselves.
3. Add Keywords
Generic resumes will not set you apart in a sea of candidates. Remember that most online resumes will be found by recruiters who are typing various keywords into their favorite search engines.
This means that your cover letter, skills, education and experience should have the same keywords in them.
Which keywords will your recruiter use to find you in the search engine?
You can easily find out what people are searching for by using a keyword research tool such as Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, KeywordTool.io and my favorite: Answer The Public.
To find the best keywords for your resume, enter the job titles you are applying for into your favorite keyword research tool, and the tool will spit out keywords related to those search terms.
You can even begin typing the job title into Google itself, and Google will try to finish your sentence. Use these sentence suggestions for keyword ideas, as they can generally give you the insights you are looking for.
Remember to think logically and intuitively about these keywords. You don’t want to show up for random and unrelated search terms. If the keyword just doesn’t feel right for you, don’t force it, move on to another one that fits better.
If you describe yourself honestly, then you are more likely to get matched to the right job, making both you and your recruiter happier.
You will naturally increase the chances of being found if you add keywords that the employers are using in their search.
4. Drop Names
If you worked for a top company or a competitor, highlight this in your work experience. Many companies want to hire those with experience and are often intrigued by those who’ve worked for the competition.
If you trained or did an internship with someone well-known in the industry it will set you apart if you highlight these details.
5. Make the Call
Most people don’t make the call, so this can really help you stand out.
Once you’ve applied for a position with the company, find out who the hiring manager is. Get through to the right people online or make a phone call. Let them know that you’ve applied for the position offered, where you applied and that you appreciate them considering you.
6. Write a Note
Written notes are a thing of the past, which will set you apart today! You can even apply in person with a paper resume to make sure you are seen and not lost in a group of hundreds of other people.
Whether you apply in person or online, write a note on real paper that states that you are interested in the position and list where you applied online.
A thank you note after an interview still works sometimes and is a good way to keep the hiring manager thinking about you when decisions are made. If your handwriting isn’t perfect, ask someone to do it for you. It is important that you have legible writing and proper grammar.
7. Advertise Your Resume Online For Free
We have saved the best secret for last, if you’ve gotten this far pat yourself on the back!
Once you have crafted the perfect resume, you now need to put it in front of the right recruiters so they can see it at the right time — ideally when they need you yesterday. But how?
It is common to submit resumes to hundreds of companies only to hear “crickets” (nothing at all).
The trick is to put your beautiful resume to work for you 24/7… Advertise it for free! Here are the top places to submit your resume so you standout:
1. We are a bit biased here, but we think the best place to submit your resume is to ResumeBulletin ( https://resumebulletin.com/add-resume/ ) Why? The advantage to submitting it with ResumeBulletin is we have one of the highest resume to search ratios online, meaning there are lots of recruiters that like using our site, but the resume count is lower than the bigger sites so you get more recruiters reaching out to you on average.
2. If you are looking for one of the biggest sites, you can try your luck at monster.ca (For Canadians) or monster.com (For Americans). The advantage with Monster is they have a massive network of recruiters, so you will get more exposure, but again it is easier to get lost in the noise.
3. Indeed is another very large site that can offer an additional channel to advertise on. The advantage is it has one of the largest number of recruiters in North America, but because of this, you can easily get lost in the noise. If you want quantity over quality, give indeed a try.
4. If you want to apply for a government job in the USA, we recommend adding your resume to https://www.usajobs.gov/ and for Canadians, there is no resume posting service, but there is a job matching service here: https://seeker.jobbank.gc.ca/seeker/
Getting noticed when you really want a chance at a great career is sometimes difficult, but leveraging these 7 tips will help you stand out.
Research and dedication to networking before and after you apply for a position are handy tools to stay diligent with looking for work. Have fun with your search for work and bring back some of the older, more traditional ways of doing business. It shows that you are flexible and willing to get noticed to get the job.