Between choosing which professional experiences to picking the right font, creating a resume for 2023 isn’t easy.
To get ahead of the competition and show employers that you’re uniquely qualified for the role you want, you’ll need to do more than just list your experience — you’ll have to learn how to make your resume stand out.
What makes a resume stand out?
Hiring managers don’t have much time to thoroughly look over each resume, which means you have to understand what hiring managers are looking for and be selective about what you include to make your resume stand out.
Tailoring your resume to be job-specific and using strong, active language to demonstrate confidence in your skills should only be part of your strategy. The job market is always changing, and showing you’re adaptable and comfortable with technology should be another of your resume priorities.
8 tips on how to make a resume stand out
Follow our eight expert tips for making your resume stand out and grab the attention of employers:
1. Add a convincing introduction to your resume
Hiring managers (especially those at larger companies) sometimes have hundreds of applications to review every day. They need to see your most relevant qualifications as easily and quickly as possible. Otherwise, they’re likely to skip over your application.
A resume summary is a concise, 1-5 sentence statement at the beginning of your resume that highlights your key relevant accomplishments and skills. This gives the hiring manager a clear idea of your general qualifications, and how well-suited you are for the role before they read the rest of your resume.
Here’s an example of what a standout resume summary looks like:
Resume summaries are ideal for candidates with some work experience. However, if you’re writing a resume without experience, there are other resume introduction styles that may better highlight your qualifications, such as the:
2. Target your resume to the industry and position you want
One of the best ways to make your resume immediately stand out to employers is by customizing it for the specific position you want.
Hiring managers write job descriptions with certain skills and experience in mind, and no two job descriptions are exactly alike (even if they’re for jobs in the same industry).
So to make your resume stand out, scan through the job description and look for specific skills or traits that the hiring manager is seeking in new hires. Then, mirror this language in your resume’s experience section and the skills section of your resume to show them that you have the expertise needed to excel in the role.
While targeting your resume this way for each job you apply to can be time-consuming, it’s one of the most effective ways to pique the interest of employers and convince them you’re worth inviting in for an interview.
3. Highlight your remote-working skills
Since the start of the pandemic, many workplaces have permanently transitioned to full or partial remote working schedules, making remote work skills some of the best skills to put on your resume.
Even if you don’t personally work remotely, familiarity with remote-working software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams and the ability to work independently are highly valuable skills in today’s workplace. List your familiarity with virtual communication tools on top of your communication skills and interpersonal skills in your resume skills section.
When up against other candidates with similar qualifications, showing that you’re able to adapt to a remote working environment may be just what you need to make your resume stand out and convince the hiring manager to give you an interview.
Finally, don’t forget to give concrete examples to back up your claims throughout your resume work experience section.
4. Include relevant industry keywords
Many large companies use a type of software called an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help them filter through the hundreds of resumes they receive.
Essentially, ATS software scans your resume for industry-related keywords to determine whether you’re qualified for the job or not. If the software doesn’t find the keywords it’s looking for, it automatically rejects your application.
Here’s an example of a job description with the keywords underlined:
Peppering these keywords throughout your resume gives you two advantages over other candidates.
- it makes you seem like a stand-out candidate tailored for the role
- your application is more likely to get approved by ATS software and into the hands of a hiring manager.
5. Keep things concise and clear
Two of the most common mistakes people make when writing a resume are listing every position they’ve ever held, and generally being too wordy when describing their previous roles.
Hiring managers have limited time to read through your application, and every second they spend reading irrelevant information is a second they’re not getting familiar with your skills, qualifications, and background.
To help your resume stand out, keep your writing concise and only include information that’s highly relevant to the position.
For example, if you’re applying for an office job and you already have some work experience, don’t include that bartending job you worked in college.
6. Add numbers to the bullets in your experience section
Employers love to see that you made a quantifiable impact at your previous jobs. Adding hard numbers to some of the resume bullet points on your resume is a great way to make your resume stand out by showing employers exactly what you achieved.
Not only that, but hard numbers give employers a clear idea of what you can achieve for them as well.
Here’s an example of how adding hard numbers to your resume can improve your bullet points and give your accomplishments more weight:
Taylord’s Marketing Firm, Reno, NV
July 2019 – August 2022
- Collaborated with the outreach department to develop innovative marketing solutions for 6 unique products
- Developed branding materials for a new mobile app, resulting in a 14% increase in sales
- Analyzed weekly performance statistics, ensuring that effectiveness of outbound marketing activities
Let’s break down this concept with the following 2 examples featuring a work accomplishment with and without hard numbers:
- Successfully pitched new products to clients
This bullet point states that the candidate was successful at their job, but without giving specific numbers it’s impossible for employers to know exactly how successful they were.
Now, here’s that same bullet point improved with a few specific hard numbers:
- Pitched 14 new products to clients, successfully boosting revenue by over $12,000 in 2021
7. Use a modern resume design
One way to make your resume stand out and grab the attention of employers is by updating it with a sleek new resume template.
If you’re applying for a job in more creative fields like graphic design or advertising, add some bolder splashes of color to your resume and play around with more unique resume headers.
For example, here’s what the top of a creative resume that stands out might look like:
If you’re employed in a more traditional industry like finance, go for a more confident, minimalist look with a modern sans-serif resume font).
Here’s an example of what a more formal modern resume design looks like:
Just by updating the appearance of your resume, you can make your most job-relevant information stand out and leave a positive impression on employers.
8. Start each bullet point with a strong verb
Most job-seekers talk about their previous jobs using passive language like “responsible for” or “tasked with”. These kinds of phrases don’t highlight what you achieved at work, and often don’t leave employers with a lasting impression of you as a candidate.
For example, here’s a bullet point that doesn’t use action verbs:
- “Tasked with completing a full update of the website homepage”
Not only is this piece of information vague, but it doesn’t frame the candidate as proactive. Now, here’s that same bullet point but featuring strong action verbs:
- “Led a full update of the website homepage, boosting overall impressions by 35%”
Unlike “tasked with”, “led” communicates exactly what the candidate did, and indicates that they not only succeeded in completing their task but took on a leadership role for this particular project.
Including such words in your resume is a great way to make yourself look more proactive, and show employers what you’re capable of achieving in a professional environment.
Standout resume examples
There are many clues about what a company expects from a potential new hire in the job description. It’s up to you to capitalize on the information they share to direct your own resume to make it stand out.
The following examples illustrate what makes a resume stand out:
Strong resume example
In this work experience example taken from a marketing resume, the candidate repeats language used in the job ad for the position they’re applying to while using action verbs and hard numbers.
Career change resume example
After picking the right career change resume format, you need to show how you can apply previous work experience from a different industry to a new role. It’s essential to emphasize skills you can apply in your new role by using relevant industry keywords in your work experience section to make your resume ATS-friendly.
For example, the following candidate has a number of experiences in marketing and is transitioning to the NGO industry:
While their older work experience is in a different industry (digital marketing), this candidate made sure to showcase job-relevant skills by illustrating their job-relevant accomplishments from their recent internship experience. This is in addition to using action verbs and hard numbers, effectively making their resume both ATS-friendly and highly readable by a hiring manager.
Resume objective example
This same candidate tailors their career objective to the position by highlighting their volunteer experience in local conservation efforts in addition to their research, reporting, and presentation skills.
Because the career objective section goes at the top of a resume, this candidate effectively frames themselves as the ideal candidate for the program associate position right from the start. This information will overshadow their past work experience in an unrelated industry and allow a hiring manager to focus on the most job-relevant information first.