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Candidate Help & Advice

From Blah to Bold: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Giant Stack of ResumesIn its most basic form, a resume is a professional list of your experience and accomplishments. It represents the best of who you are in an easy-to-follow format. The problem, of course, is that while many of these accomplishments may have been really exciting for you in real life, they read rather dry in a text-only format. In a Careerbuilder survey, more than half of human resources managers said they spent less than two minutes looking over a resume; nearly 20 percent said they spent less than one minute. You don’t have much time to make a good first impression with your resume and with the amount of resumes that come flooding in for every open position, it is important to make sure that yours stands out – and maintains the interest of the reader.

So how can you keep your resume professional, but not bore hiring managers who look it over? Here are a few tips that will make an employer want to hire you:

  • Tell a story. Don’t turn your resume into an essay, or memoir, but find places to infuse parts of your career story and your personality. For example, when you mention your accomplishments at a particular job, you may also want to list any adversity that you overcame in the position. If there was a specific location you loved geographically, you should say that. Find ways to show that you are more than a robot spitting out career facts, but that you are indeed a human who grew as one in each particular position.
  • Avoid templates. Resume templates are a great place to start, but own the layout of yours. You don’t have to have an objective if you think leading with your relevant experience is smarter. You don’t need to list job history in chronological order or to use bullet points, or inverse indentation, or any of the things you’ve seen on online templates. Keep an organized, consistent feel throughout your resume but go outside the template box to really grab the attention of the reader.
  • Have other people read it. If possible, have them read your resume in front of you. Watch for signs in their body language that are either positive or negative. Notice if they smile or laugh, or if their eyes appear to glaze over. Ask for specific criticism on improving the tone of the resume and of course see if they notice any obvious errors. Try to pick a variety of people to read it with different viewpoints on careers and life.

How do you make your resume stand out from the competitors?

Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons

Author Bio

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.