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Maximize Your Resume’s Impact: 10 Strategies to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

The job market is competitive. Doesn’t matter if employment is up or down. You’re almost never the only one applying to a job ad, which means you’re always competing with someone. This is why you need to maximize your resume’s impact for the employers and recruiters you’re sending them to. A well-crafted resume is essential to stand out from the crowd. It determines whether you get an interview or not. Add to this the fact that hiring managers and recruiters only spend an average of 6-7 seconds scanning your resume before deciding which pile it goes in… and the pressure is really on! To help you relieve some of that pressure, Here are some strategies to maximize your resume’s impact:


1. Tailor your resume to the specific job you’re applying

Employers want to see that you’re a good fit for the job they’re offering, so tailor your resume to the job description. Highlight those relevant experiences, skills and achievements that match the job requirements. This means that you need to read the job description very carefully and more than once. You need to study it! Doing so will make it much easier to pull the right things out of your experience.

Some quick tips:

  • customize your professional summary or objective statement for each and every position you apply to
  • list the job title or heading on your resume to match the position you’re applying to
  • use the same keywords from the job description in your resume to show employers you fit the role (and have read the actual job ad… you’d be surprised how many don’t!)
  • emphasize measurable accomplishments in your resume — where you can use numbers or statistics to quantify and demonstrate your contributions in past roles

Read More: Why Your Resume Needs to be Tailored to Each Job Application 


2. Use strong action verbs

Using strong action verbs in your resume is a must. It gives it more impact and makes it stand out. Use words like “created,” “developed,” “led,” “managed,” and “achieved”. to show prospective employers your responsibilities and your accomplishments. Make them see it!

It helps to make your resume more engaging and dynamic. It can give prospective employers and recruiters the impression that you are an active and results-driven candidate. Action verbs can demonstrate your ability to take initiative, solve problems and achieve goals for previous employers. If you’re applying to higher-level positions, it can further illustrate high levels of responsibility and leadership.

Using these words can also help you create your personal and professional brand. By choosing verbs that are aligned with your accomplishments, strengths and your values, you can create a consistent narrative that plays throughout your resume and further reinforces you as a candidate to consider.


3. Quantify your achievements

We just talked about this, and you’ll read about it many more times because it bares consistent repetition and reinforcement. Numbers often speak much louder than words. One of the best ways to maximize your resume’s impact is to quantify your achievements whenever possible.

For example, instead of saying you “improved sales,” say you “increased sales by 20%.” This shows your impact and demonstrates your value to potential employers. If you want to go even further, you can say, “increased sales by 20% by improving marketing campaigns and client communications.” Just make sure whatever claims you’re making are accurate and will stand up against any online or reference checks.


4. Use a clear, easy-to-read format

Your resume should be easy to read and navigate. Yes, easy navigation isn’t just for airplanes and apps. Nothing frustrates employers faster than a resume that’s hard to follow. In this case, it’ll take them less than six seconds to toss it in the wrong pile. Use clear headings and bullet points to break up text, and choose a simple, easy-to-read font. Avoid using graphics, images, or fancy formatting that can distract from the content in your resume, unless they fit with the type of job you’re applying to.


5. Keep it concise

As a general rule of thumb, your resume should be no longer than two pages. But there are exceptions. Senior management, executives, directors and government jobs usually require more detailed resumes. Otherwise, maximize your resume’s impact by keeping it concise and to the point. Focus on your most relevant experience and achievements. Employers don’t have time to read long, rambling resumes so make every word count!


6. Highlight your skills

Employers are looking for candidates with the right skills for the specific job they want to fill. So make sure to highlight your skills separately on your resume. It doesn’t matter if you’re repeating them in relation to your experience or achievements — in fact it will help to reinforce your ability to to do the job! Use bullet points to list your skills, and again, make sure they match the job requirements.


7. Include a summary statement. Scrap the objective!

Objectives are out! Those obvious statements that tell employers “I’m looking for a job and hopefully with your company” are no longer needed. Employers know why you’re sending them your resume. They’re the ones asking for it! Instead, use that introductory section to say a few words about yourself and what you do.

For instance, “I’m a professional resume writer with years of experience helping people land the job they want.” Or, “I’m a mechanical engineer with a passion for solving problems and learning new technologies.” Whatever you say, make sure it’s tailored to the job you’re applying for, and if possible, briefly highlights your unique qualifications.


8. Put your passion on verbal display

Employers want to hire people who are passionate about their work. Use your resume to  verbally demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job (and even the industry or sector) you’re applying to. This can help you stand out from other candidates in the crowd who may have similar qualifications. Remember those action verbs!


9. Proofread and edit, carefully!

Your resume is a reflection of you and your professionalism. It represents the first impression employers and recruiters will have of you. For this reason, it’s absolutely essential to proofread and edit your resume carefully BEFORE hitting send. Use your apps, software and your own eyes and ears to check for typos, grammatical errors, formatting and any other issues that stand out. Ask a friend or colleague to review your resume as well, to catch any mistakes you (or your computer!) may have missed. And always remember, not doing this super-simple thing is the easiest way to lose potential opportunities you may have otherwise been perfect for.


10. Use keywords

Many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen resumes. You can read about them here. That’s why it’s essential to use keywords related to the job. In most cases, you can use the exact same language as the job description, and include industry-specific terms and phrases to increase your chances of getting past the ATS. 

Maximizing your resume’s impact takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it. It can determine whether you get the job you want, or have to settle for the job you need. A well-crafted resume will help you stand out from the competition. By tailoring your resume, using strong action verbs, quantifying your achievements, using a clear format, keeping it concise, highlighting your skills, including a summary statement, showing your passion, proofreading and editing carefully, and using keywords, you can create a powerful resume that gets results!

Read More: 
Resume Keywords: How to Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems

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