In this day and age, graduating from college and securing a post-secondary degree no longer guarantees a job like it once did. The playing field is now more level than ever—everyone has similar access to the same resources and opportunities, which means you're constantly up against people with essentially the same credentials as you. How do you make yourself stand out from the competition?
When applying to jobs, there are certain tips and tricks you can use to really bring out the skills listed on your resume. Making even the slightest changes can make a whole lot of difference when the competition is this fierce. So, before you click 'submit,' read on for 5 ways to make your resume stand out from the rest:
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#1 Always tailor your resume
You've heard this one time and time again, but only because it remains to be a quintessential piece of advice. Get into the habit of tweaking your resume for every position you apply for. The job description will list all of the qualities the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate, so by tailoring your resume, you can make sure it checks off all the right boxes.
Employers will likely be unimpressed by generic resumes. Yet, most applicants won't be bothered to make any adjustments to theirs. Using templates as a base for formatting purposes is fine, but don't rely too heavily on it. Be natural with your writing and highlight your most relevant skills and experience to ensure you catch the employer's attention.
#2 Use industry keywords
Many employers use filtering systems that look for specific keywords to help them narrow down their pool of candidates. Most of the time, recruiters aren't going to take the time to review every single resume from start to finish, since they probably receive hundreds of applications a day. Including keywords in your resume is one way to make sure your resume gets noticed.
This ties back to the process of tailoring your resume—all of the keywords you'll need to include can be found in the job descriptions of the positions you're applying for. The trick is to identify all of the words that give extra detail to skills and experience. Usually, these will be eye-catching nouns or adjectives.
#3 Elaborate on accomplishments
Perhaps the most important part of your resume is the section where you provide your relevant experiences. Instead of just listing your prior responsibilities, elaborate on how you utilized your skills to help improve a condition or statistic during a project. It always best to include actual metrics, if you have access to that data.
For example, if you used to work in sales, don't just mention that you helped increase sales by introducing a new technique; instead, state how much the sales increased, thanks to your innovative efforts. Those numbers add much more depth to your experience and really help sell your qualifications to the employer.
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#4 Write a meaningful cover letter
Cover letters are just as important as your resume. They offer you a chance to highlight the most important parts of your resume. With the workforce being as competitive as it is nowadays, it's almost necessary to include a cover letter with your applications. Some applicants might opt not to write one, so if you do, you'll already have the clear edge over them.
For the most part, employers will be able to tell when you've used a template. While cover letters often have a similar structure, it would still have more impact to write one completely from scratch. It also doesn't have to be too lengthy—just a couple of paragraphs will do. Employers will likely appreciate that you took the extra time to add a cover letter.
#5 Double-check everything
Lastly, make sure your application is absolutely pristine. As with anything in careers, utilizing proper grammar and punctuation is one of the easiest ways to show your professionalism. It also tells the employer that you're very much interested in the position—a resume with a bunch of typos indicates a rushed job and may give the impression that you're not that serious about the opportunity. Your cover letter and resume will be the first impression your employer has of you—make sure it's a good one.