Building a Standout Résumé

By Annette DiZinno, Workforce Connection Center Consultant, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin

In today’s employer market, it’s not enough to have a résumé that’s just okay.

You need one that stands out from the crowd. But what should job seekers include to make sure their résumé stands out among all the others?

Laying the foundation:

Let’s start with the basics: keywords and format. This means doing your research. Most companies have websites these days. Use it to your advantage. Search it and absorb all the details. The insights you glean will make it easier for you to customize your résumé for the job at that company. You are creating a résumé for the recruiter to appreciate, so you must know your audience.

Remember: the average recruiter takes only about 5-7 seconds to look at your résumé. That’s not a lot of time to make a good first impression so make sure your résumé follows some basic rules:

  • 11-12 size font
  • No graphics or logos
  • Standard black rounded bullet
  • Lots of keywords
  • No spelling or grammar mistakes

Constructing the frame:

While there are lots of résumé formats to pick from, this is a situation where standard is best. Most recruiters prefer a chronological format because it’s easier to digest. The chronological format, as its name implies, starts with the most recent work experience and goes back from there – but not too far back. The last 10-15 years is sufficient. Otherwise your résumé looks old and stale.

Your résumé should consist of six main parts: Heading, Career Summary, Work Experience, Highlights/Skills, Education and Volunteer Experience. Choose your words carefully and pay attention to what you say and how you say it. Use action verbs to begin your accomplishment statements and quantify where you can – numbers or percentages provide depth and make your résumé stand out.

The final inspection Remember: resumes are inspected by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to make sure they measure up. An ATS scan weeds out bad résumés that are out of order, poorly written, have spelling errors, etc. Understanding that system upfront allows you to write your résumé accordingly and deliver a great final product.

Your résumé should accurately reflect you and all of the skills, accomplishments and experiences you bring to the employer. This is your opportunity to shine, do a little bit of bragging and demonstrate why you are the right person for the job. With a bit of research, careful review and thoughtful edits, your résumé will be one of the very best – one that’s just too good for any recruiter to pass up.

Reposted with permission from Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin.