When you’re applying for a job, you have precious few opportunities to stand out from the crowd. It might be a little easier to make yourself memorable when you meet for a face-to-face interview, but if you really want to get ahead of the game, you want to stand out right from the start. That can only mean one thing: you have to perfect your resume.
In many cases, a resume is going to be an employer’s first experience with “you.” It’s your first opportunity to present yourself as either an exceptional, one-of-a-kind option, or just another face in the crowd (or stack of resumes, as it were).
Make your resume work for you by implementing these tips for making your resume stand out.
Rock the cover letter.
Want to set great expectations for your resume? Then you need to pay attention to your cover letter. This letter will set the stage for your resume, and should make the employer excited to see what your resume has to offer. Here are characteristics of a superb cover letter:
- Customized: Make sure your letter is slightly different for each company you send it to. Include the hiring manager’s name whenever possible (“To whom it may concern” is stuffy and impersonal), along with details about why that company, specifically, appeals to you.
- Informative: You don’t need to write your life story (or even include all the information that’s included on your resume), but you should highlight the things that make you the best person for the job. Anything that matches the job description exactly would be particularly impactful. You should also include your contact information.
- Personal: You want to be professional, but you also want a little bit of your personality to come through in your cover letter. Avoid copying and pasting pre-written letters you find online (though you can use those as guides), and don’t dress it up to the point where it doesn’t sound like “you” anymore. If you aren’t sure, read it aloud before sending to see how it sounds.
Don’t go crazy with the format.
There are plenty of “eye catching” resume templates out there, but some of them catch your eye for the wrong reasons. Many are so flashy or busy that it’s hard to tell where the style ends and the information begins. Choose a clean, simple template for your resume that makes the information the star. Stick to a simple, readable font, separate your information into clearly defined sections (career goals, work experience, education, etc.), and use bullet points when possible.
Highlight your strengths.
Your resume doesn’t necessarily have to be a laundry list of everything you’ve ever done. You can organize the information in such a way that it highlights your strengths without leaving out anything important. Do you have a strong, consistent work history? Make that the focus. Have you had many small jobs, but you’re proud of the skills you’ve picked up? Center the information around those skills. You may find it helpful to have different versions of your resume for different job applications.
Keep it relevant.
Call out responsibilities you’ve had at your past jobs that could serve you well in the new job you’re applying for. If you had other responsibilities that aren’t relevant, don’t include them; they’ll take up valuable space and won’t help you make your case.
Don’t forget soft skills.
Employers don’t just want to hire someone that can do the job. They want to hire someone that will fit in with their current staff and company culture. Are you a stickler for a deadline? Are you great at working with others? Are you honest and trustworthy? Are you super organized? Things like this will give the employer a glimpse into what you would be like to work with, along with what you can do.
A great resume isn’t going to be “the thing” that lands you the job, but it will play a big role in getting your foot in the door. Polish it up to make it stand out from the crowd, and you’ll be well on your way to getting that interview.
If you’re looking for a new position in IT, be sure to check out our job board here, and for hiring managers looking to find the right talent, don’t hesitate to contact EDI Staffing to speak with one of our specialized recruiters today.
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