Andy Lester

Technology, careers, life and being happy

How do I make my resume stand out?

| 2 Comments

All the time I hear people asking “How do I make my resume stand out?” It’s a great question to ask, because your resume is one of dozens or hundreds of others. The problem isn’t that you want your resume to get noticed, but that you want the reader to be interested in what you say and call you in for an interview. How do you do that?

Remove fluff

Do you have an objective? Don’t. It’s filled with meaningless fluff. “I want to leverage my skills to add value to the bottom line of a forward-thinking blah blah blah bullshit bullshit bullshit.” That says nothing other than “I want this job.” No kidding. Never use an objective.

Do you make meaningless claims like “Excellent written and verbal communication skills.” Crap. It means nothing. Anyone can say that. Give just the facts, not your own assessments. “Excellent written and verbal communication skills” is not a fact. It is an opinion, a self-assessment. Leave it off.

Those are all vague, meaningless generalities. Give details!

Add numbers and other details

Use numbers in everything you can. Numbers draw the eye and give detail. You should have at least one number on every bullet line in your resume.

Let me repeat: Every bullet point in your resume should have a number that gives size of the job.

Instead of saying “Worked on the help desk, answering user questions” you say you “Worked on the help desk, answering an average of 30 user questions per day.”

“Proficient with MS Office, Windows suite and all around tech savvy” is hopelessly vague and uninspiring. Tech savvy according to who? Your grandma? Oooh, you know Windows. So does my dog, and he died six years ago.

Now, if you’ve done amazing presentations in PowerPoint, then say that. “Created three presentations in PowerPoint in a year for area sales directors.” That says much more than “I know Office.”

Remove fluff. Add numbers and details. That’s 90% of the battle right there. If you can do that well, you’re ahead of the pack.

Looking for ideas on how to add details to your bullet points? Post them in the comments and I’ll see if I can help.

2 Comments

  1. On the topic of removing fluff – for inexperienced job seekers who often list retail/restaurant jobs since that is their only experience, we know what a waiter does. We know what a barista does. We know what a cashier does. Stuff like the following is absolutely useless:

    Cashier, Company, 2009-2011
    - Handled cash and receipts
    - Helped customers with purchases

    Unless you are going to put something interesting under that job heading, leave it out completely. I’m not interested in what you happened to be doing during that time period, I’m interested in what you accomplished and where you could possibly add value to my business.

    Even if you only had cashier jobs, put something down that tells me about you, not the job title. For example, “100% record of on time attendance” at least tells me that you are somewhat reliable.

    Also, if you have multiple fluff jobs, condense or leave out some. A resume is not necessarily an exhaustive accounting of every position you’ve ever held.

  2. The sole purpose of a resume is to grab the attention of the employer. Using numbers is of course an excellent idea to attract attention quickly. Thanks for sharing these useful resume writing tips.

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