How To Make Your Resume Stand Out from the Crowd in 2021

Resumes May 30, 2021

Recruiters often get hundreds of applications for roles, 1,000s for popular positions. Making yours stand out is step one in getting hired, whatever your skills.

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Our Resume Builder guide to putting together an application that gets you noticed can give you the edge over other candidates.

Once in an interview, it is still up to you to wow them with your knowledge and skills, but expressing them well in your resume will get you into that meeting.

Since COVID, the job market has seen a great shock around the world.

Many people have had to find new roles, others have taken the time during furloughs to consider their careers.

Companies have had to fill roles quickly to deal with the crisis and now many are expanding again, their HR inboxes are flooded with applications.

In some cases there are thousands of applicants for some posts, while job boards are full of unfilled roles as companies look for the perfect candidate.

Similar stories from around the world show this is a global trend, with applicants looking for more flexibility, firms that are socially responsible and where they can make a greater impact.

As the career landscape gets more complicated, talented graduates and experienced workers have more hurdles to overcome, as the landscape changes including:

  • The many recruitment sites available.
  • Finding careers on mobile apps and services quickly.
  • The growth in remote work opportunities.
  • Sharing of jobs across social media.
  • Ease of applying for roles, often with a couple of clicks or taps.

According to Glassdoor, typical business roles were attracting some 250 resumes, with an average of five being invited for an interview. Reasons include the mass furloughs, people looking for new careers, changing working patterns and other factors.

The question we have to ask is what were those five doing right to get noticed?

Building the perfect resume

For people looking for their first role, there is much advice out there for building the right resume or CV, but it can often be contradictory or not be suitable for you.

For experienced candidates, getting all the information and experience you need to put across can be confusing. And all applications need something to make the text sparkle and bring out your personality.

How to put a resume together

Start with a branding statement

The current trend among resumes is to start with a branding statement, rather than just repeating your current job title or career path.

A branding statement goes beyond the job title, think of it more like the title of your autobiography, while explaining what you do and how you do it, without resorting to fluffy adjectives. Some real-world examples include:

  • “Half geek – half marketing – 100% social nut!”
  • “I help individuals reassess their life choices to discover their true paths to success.”
  • “I develop sustainable business models and marketing strategies to fuel small business growth.”

Yours should reflect your strongest attributes and area of success, expressed in a way that will stand out from the usual resume fodder.

Finding your best resume content

Everyone needs some help with сreating their first resume, beyond the basics of contact details and exam results.

For people with limited career experience, fresh out of school or college, there is the issue of finding relevant content to fill the gaps.

These can be overcome by:

  • Highlighting volunteer or other activities.
  • Role-related research or self-interest projects. (learning to code, taking business studies, or practical experience).
  • Extra-curricular activity at school or college (team building or creative tasks).
  • Demonstrating skills through admin (organizing tasks done as part of a club or group).
  • Turning hobbies into skills (selling craft wares, teaching technology or practical skills, using social media to a high level or charity work).

When doing a resume for the first time ensure you use plenty of active phrases, “I was responsible for…”, “I was in charge of…” but don’t over-emphasize trivial achievements and never bend the truth, professional HR hirers can spot exaggerations and will check up on them if relevant to the role.

As part of your resume best practice, write it first, then leave it for a day and look back over it. Make changes where the original text doesn’t sound quite right or goes on for too long. Note that resumes should be one or two pages maximum, even if they are never printed out.

For effective resume writing, you should try to show examples of collaboration and communication with others, success in your roles or tasks and abilities in terms of practical results or critical thinking.

Find success the Resume Builder Pro way

Resume Builder Pro is one way to easily improve the quality of your resume and help it get noticed in the few seconds that most professional human resources will take to scan it.

From HR-approved templates to well-crafted text examples that provide the best way to express your experience and skills with smart and effective language.

Free, simple and easy to use, Resume Builder Pro has helped 1,000s of people get their dream job. Taking the stress out of creating the strongest possible resume online.

If you have trouble putting into words your skills and achievements, Resume Builder Pro is the perfect tool to build a great-looking resume. You can choose from a set of strong templates, adjust the color and style, or pick examples for your specific Market.

Then, add pre-chosen text examples that you can use or edit to your personal situation and satisfaction. Since it only takes a few minutes to apply for a role, it is only fair that candidates should be able to create resumes quickly and efficiently.

Tips for getting your resume noticed

With a solid-looking resume to send to recruiters, you have a higher chance of getting noticed. But, there are a few things job winners are adding to resumes to really stand out. Add these features to your resumes to really grab their attention.

Discuss your lockdown experience

Since surviving lockdown is likely to still be a hot topic during interviews, do mention any new skills you picked up during any enforced downtime.

Any innovative ways you manage to be creative or pick up new hobbies will help you stand out against a herd who just stayed at home and watched Netflix, ordering in takeout food.

Some people expanded their horizons by watching virtual travel streams or natural wonders, others went old-school with knitting or papercraft. Anything that demonstrates you did something out of the ordinary will be appreciated by a recruiter.

Look beyond the resume

Not all information needs to be present on your resume. Many creative workers have online portfolios of art, articles, video and other content.

Providing links to these allows the hiring company to see your skills up close, and can take more time over your application than someone who does not.

Whatever your skills, make sure they stand out in the portfolio with original pieces where possible that say more about you as a candidate and demonstrate your creativity.

If you don’t have a college or professional portfolio then build one out of pieces you have done for fun or as creative projects to show you aren’t just sitting still waiting for a job to turn up.

manual portfolio various items

Talk about culture

Most businesses now have a company culture section on their About Us pages. Take corporate WiFi provider Purple for example.

They talk about many aspects of their culture, and in your resume if you can relate your experiences to their culture you will sound like a better fit.

what makes a players culture

Also, be prepared to challenge them about their culture, in your resume or cover letter, take the time to highlight how your values can help improve theirs, where practical. Also, investigate how they express those cultural claims in reality.

You will get bonus points for saying “I read on LinkedIn that people say you could do more in terms of sustainability, I would recommend…” to make a challenging impression and demonstrate that you care.

Express your ambition and show your impact

Job applications used to be about what you can do for the company. Many interviewers still ask “where do you see yourself in five years?” If you can answer this in your resume’s personal statement it helps set you apart from the crowd.

Finally, recruiters love to see where people made an impact rather than “just doing the job.” Examples might include going above and beyond working with clients, inventing some tool, trick or macro that helped your business save time or money.

One key area to talk about is your responsibilities, both in terms of team management, budget control, hiring, additional roles you took on within the business (health and safety, social events, training and so on.)

Highlighting these will instantly tick boxes with recruiters who will want to know more, so only give the briefest version, a line or two, and save the details for the interview.

Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes

Having crafted your resume, it might look great from your perspective. But then you need to put it down, go away for an hour, or leave it overnight. Then come back to it and look at the resume from the perspective of a recruiter.

Ask yourself, what are they looking to see? It helps if you have had hiring experience before or seen plenty of interviews. Fortunately, there are plenty of “what recruiters are looking for” articles out there to give you a clue, many in specific fields or vertical markets.

Use that knowledge to identify any gaps in the resume and fill them in.

It might only take a few words to make a far greater impact, you should not need to rewrite the whole paper. Related to this, while some people might put their social media profiles in a resume, only use ones that have a professional focus.

For example your Twitter that is full of design-focused mentions and discussions, rather than your Facebook page with endless discussions over what you saw on television.

Recruiters don’t mind finding out more about you in a professional context, but not about what your dinner looked like, and if they see something off-putting in a social profile, you will likely be immediately disqualified.

Adding in the WOW factor

Finally, check it for a little wow factor, something that stands out that you can’t imagine anyone else writing. Something like these figurative examples, from the serious to the cheeky, might just make the difference:

  • Wrote a letter to the president/prime minister/senator/MP about conditions in my area/school/workplace.
  • I saw a dead body/nuclear weapon/international superstar ten minutes into my first ever job.
  • The six-month gap in my resume is classified by the government.
  • I am probably not the most obvious candidate, but looking at your company I can instantly see XXX ways I can improve your business.
  • As an expert in this field, I look forward to talking about how we can work together.
  • The role you are advertising is a little below my ambition, but if you think my skills and experience are suitable, I hope we can negotiate an improved role that will accommodate them.

Anything you can think of that is true, and will make your application stand out could get you into a meeting where you can prove your claim and make a great impression.

Your resume is your key to the best careers

With the huge number of career opportunities available, and the many people looking for work. The best way to stand out from the crowd is with clarity.

Keep each section of your resume tightly focused, explaining:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you offer
  • What makes you special

These are the keys to any successful resume.

Keep those points in mind, and if you have trouble expressing them clearly, then Resume Builder Pro can do that for you, giving you a huge advantage over the competition, whatever the role or company you are applying for.

Originally published May 30 2021

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George Avgenakis

CEO @ Loopcv

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