July 24th, 2017 | Sterling

Tips for Making Your Resume Stand Out

Girl in orange shaking hands

We have all been there—staring at a blank word document that would eventually be a digital representation of ourselves and the first impression for our dream jobs. In just 500 words, employers collect enough information from you to decide whether to continue with the application process or eliminate you from further consideration. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this seemingly simple piece of paper. It is never a bad idea to invest some extra time into editing or restructuring your resume—it just might give you that extra edge over your competition. Whether you’re a first-time resume writer for an entry-level position or are simply looking for some fresh insight for improving your resume, Sterling Talent Solutions would like to share with you some basic tips for creating a resume as well as some suggestions that can help your resume stand out.

We consulted with Sterling Talent Solutions’ Senior Recruiter Sara Balaban, who after five years in the field has an endless supply of advice on how to craft the ideal resume.

To Sara, a resume is not only a summary of your professional experiences but also an initial selling point for convincing her why you are the ideal applicant. She related, “I want to speak with candidates that I can get a sense of who they are without even having a conversation with them yet—those who strongly articulate their accomplishments and carefully position themselves in a saturated candidate market.”

Here are some helpful guidelines Sara shared with us for achieving that idyllic resume:

Resume Format

The resume format mantra: Be clear, concise and to the point. Strong resumes give a brief preview of professional experience in one to two pages for US or Canadian applicants, while CV’s and resumes in the UK may be longer. Confusing layouts and verbiage distract from the purpose of a resume and ultimately lower a recruiter’s ability to sift through your valuable information. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use an appropriate resume template and font when structuring your resume.
  • List your past experiences in reverse chronological order.
  • Adjust your margins to .5 or one inch to better utilize space and remain ideally under one page.
  • Strive to not exceed 4-5 bullet points per position.

What to Include on a Resume

Applicants new to the job field may struggle to find information appropriate for their resume, while for others, limiting a resume to one page is not an easy task. Whichever category you fall in, try to tailor your resume to the job field and position you’re applying for. Taking the time to adjust your objectives in line with the position you’re applying for deserves a gold star in many recruiters’ books. Employers want to see that you are interested in this specific job, not just jobs in general. Below are a few items that should be included while making your resume stand out:

  • If you are new to the job market, include volunteer, extracurricular, computer skills and internship experience. Recruiters are eager to see any previous involvement in various fields that may provide you with qualities necessary for that position.
  • Connect to your LinkedIn profile. You can include this link with your other contact information.
  • Use keywords appropriate for the position you’re applying for.
  • Include descriptive action verbs to showcase your responsibilities and accomplishments, but also quantify your experience when appropriate.

Make Your Resume Stand Out

After you have organized your resume in a neat and clear format and inputted your information, there are still some essential steps you can’t forget. Recruiters are likely only to skim your resume initially to check for errors, so it’s in your best interest to ensure your resume is perfectly polished before sharing it with your network.

  • Be detail oriented and careful. Check and double check your work to make sure there is no inconsistent language or no grammatical errors. If your work experience was in the past, keep your language in the past tense. Also, if you choose to edit your resume for a specific job, make sure to send the right resume to the right company! To Sara, there is nothing more off-putting than receiving a resume that states someone’s interest in a different position because of a lack of precision and care.
  • Be honest. Recruiters have read thousands of resumes and are trained to pick up on jargon and fabricated exaggerations. Between that and an inevitable background check, 58% of employers have uncovered a lie on a resume. It is better to be honest and eager to learn new skills on the job than to be unfairly hired for a job you are not qualified for.
  • Less is more. Resumes are only the first step in the hiring process for a reason. An interview is the time to go more in depth on your experiences. Refrain from long descriptive paragraphs or including every odd job you’ve ever had, like that lemonade stand you started in the 2nd grade (unless that lemonade stand has grown into a multi-million dollar public company with multiple locations).

Remember, these are just recommendations and not strict rules. Adapt your resume to best represent you and your aspirations. And most importantly, be confident in your abilities. With time, your resume will grow and can eventually help land you that ideal job. Sterling Talent Solutions wishes you luck in all of your job search endeavours, and we invite you to visit our blog for more tips to help with the hiring process.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.