Resume tip ideas: Stand out from the crowd

So now that we’ve discussed the supply and demand concept, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work on making you stand out with some resume tip ideas.

The Classic Resume Tip: Customize, customize, customize

This idea has been around for a while, but it remains quite important. And I know what you may be thinking. Does it really work? How could this actually make a difference?

Well, it does. Partially because so few applicants really do it. And I get it. This approach takes extra work. One has to read the job ad and understand it. Then you have to use that understanding to focus the resume on the skills/experience you have that translate directly to the needs expressed in the ad. Then do it for every job you apply to. But it works because readers don’t have to think, use their imagination, or read between the lines to see you’re a great candidate. This resume tip gets you to the top of the pile.

So what does this resume tip mean?

Simply, that quick-apply options available in many job boards aren’t always the best plan, despite their apparent efficiency. It can feel rewarding to fire off applications in record time. Unfortunately, when the resume is not tailored to the job, it often also ends up in the recycle bin in that same record time.

What’s the scoop on cover letters?

Maybe you’ve been reading that cover letters are dated and out of style. So should you do one? Well, if the application instructions ask for one, then absolutely. Otherwise, you aren’t following directions. But outside of those scenarios, what does one do?

What’s the context?

One of the values of cover letters is the narrative opportunity. When you’re in a spot where the resume may fall short of showing why you’re a strong candidate, the cover letter can help. Some examples of these situation include a career change, a deliberate step down in one’s career, and a lack of job requirements in the resume but other strengths that balance it out.  In such scenarios, the resume often leaves unanswered questions in the reader’s mind. Here, a cover letter could save the day.

Final thoughts on cover letters

Each piece of the application should ideally add some value to the package. As we said earlier with resumes, customization is key. Whether you’re doing a cover letter by force or by choice, take the extra time to customize it to the role.

Format, spelling, et. al.

And of course, spelling and grammar count! How much they count depends a bit on the overall market, as we briefly discussed in our conversation on supply and demand. In short, it’s always best to aim for excellence. Regardless of market, the ideal is still to have no spelling errors.

For the format, clean and simple are best. While many things change with resume styles, I still advise use of bullet points versus paragraphs, and each bullet starts with a verb (past or present tense, depending). Keep everything tight and consistent. The overall effect of your attention to detail should be a resume that’s easy to read; the resume invites readers in to learn more about you, the candidate.