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How To Stand Out In a Stack of Resumes


It’s a candidate’s market right now. Hiring managers are having a harder time than ever finding good talent with so much shifting in the workforce; but that doesn’t mean that the best employers are lowering their standards. Candidates still need to work to stand out, and that starts with a resume. Here are some tips to catch the attention of anyone reviewing your resume.

Understand the position that you’re applying for. All job experience is beneficial – but it is not all equal. Far too often job seekers apply to jobs and then list job experience that, while valuable in some regard, does not help a hiring manager understand if they would be a good fit. For example, at Connected Health Care, we recently received a resume for a nursing position and this person had half a page of waitress experience listed. It showed some valuable qualities about the candidate, but a sentence or two would have sufficed. Focusing on her time as a nurse and past experiences in nursing school would put her in a much better position to land the nursing job she was applying for. So, tailor your resume to the job you want, focusing on the most relevant experience you have to the role.

Make it clean. This one is one of the most common things people are told to do when making their resumes and for good reason. The easier it is on the eyes, the longer it will likely be looked at. There are a few things we suggest to make your resume look great. Length is a big one. Now, it is not as important as some people make it out to be. There is a notion that anything longer than one page is too much. We disagree – it’s the 21st century and anyone viewing your resume is more than likely looking at a PDF that they can simply keep scrolling on. We think the length aspect has much more to do with content. Some people ramble and don’t adhere to our first point. They add irrelevant content such as a language proficiency section and include only “English (Fluent).” Thanks for that. So, keep it as short as you can while still listing all relevant experience and skills about yourself. If that’s truly 2 pages long, great.

Other than length, fonts and organization play an important role. The fonts should be legible (Times New Roman, Calibri, etc.) and it should be organized in a way that flows, with your most recent experience up top. Three or so bullet points for each role/experience and then move to the next. Finally, a hint of color can be nice if done tastefully and can just be another way to set yourself apart. Nothing overboard, however – a neutral green or blue on the section headers looks great in many instances.

Include a summary. Having a summary that explains who you are and what you’re seeking in a new role is one of the easiest ways to be memorable. It does not need to be long but two or three sentences talking about past experience and what you can add to a team (beyond the bullet points of what you did at past jobs) is hugely helpful to a hiring manager. This section goes at the top right below your name and contact information and is a great way for a hiring manager to familiarize themselves with your resume immediately.

These three ways to stand apart in a stack are a great starting place for your resume. Coming across as put together as you can starts on paper. It is worth noting that some other candidates are putting in this effort as well, so while this will put you ahead of much of the pack, there is no substitute for actually having a great resume in terms of experience. So, apply for roles in which you think you would excel. Great content combined with a format that follows these three tips will put you in a position to move one step closer to your dream job by landing an interview.