How to Stand Out in Your Resume

The first thing that a recruiter sees when you submit your job application is your resume. They usually only spend 6-8 seconds looking through your resume before deciding whether or not to move forward with your candidacy. This may seem daunting, but you can definitely use those few seconds to your advantage by preparing the best resume possible that is easy to look at and holistically captures your professional experiences as well as skills. Here’s how you can do that!

Find the right format

When thinking about resume format, there are two ways of going about it. You can either ask an upperclassman or your university’s career center for a template and guidance on the format, or you can create your own on Microsoft Word. It is great to ask people who have gone through the recruiting process for advice, especially when it comes to formatting, as they most likely know what works and what doesn’t. However, creating your own resume format can also showcase your creativity and originality. If you choose to design your own resume, try not to add too many distracting elements that make it hard to read and definitely stay away from resume template generators. Your font styles, sizes, and colors should also be kept uniformed and all of your information should fit onto one page of an A4 paper. All in all, it depends on the type of job that you are applying for. If you’re recruiting for Business or Finance then you should stick with a professional template that other upperclassmen have used before and if you’re recruiting for Marketing or Design then you should try to create your own. 

Add the appropriate contact and education information

At the very top of the page, underneath your name and contact information (phone number, email, and portfolio website if applicable), you should provide your educational background. This should include your school, anticipated graduation year, major, GPA (if more than 3.0), and any relevant courseworks. 

Read the job description and highlight relevant experiences

Before applying to any job, you should make sure to fully read the job description. Not only will it help you throughout the application process, it will also allow you to see whether or not your resume experiences and skills align with the position that you are applying for. If it does then that’s great, go ahead and submit it. However, if it doesn’t really match then you should try to tweak it by rephrasing or adding more relevant experiences to line up with the job more.

Use strong action verbs and keywords

While describing what you did for each work experience, you should start it with an action verb. Use the verb in past tense if the task was completed in a past job, and use present tense if the task is being completed in your current job. Feel free to save the list below for the best resume action verbs!

resume action verbs

Task, action, and result

Underneath every professional experience that you list, you should write down bullet points of what you did at that specific job. Use the “task, action, and result” format to outline your work by concisely describing what your task was, what action you took to complete the task, and what the result looked like. For example, “Spearheaded the X project by implementing Y, which resulted in Z percent in growth.” While describing the result, you should use numbers and metrics whenever possible to illustrate the impact of your actions.

Keep it short and direct

Make sure to keep it concise and straight-to-the-point for every work experience you write about as the recruiter will not spend a lot of time trying to decipher everything on the resume. Moreover, it speaks to your ability to properly explain and summarize your experience.

Review and adjust for errors

Your first resume will never be your final resume, so you should reread and polish it over and over again until it feels right. Once it sounds good to you, have upperclassmen, advisors at your school’s career center, and recruiters read it and give you feedback as well. Continue to improve it until the comments sound the same—that’s when you know it’s ready!

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