When I first graduated college, I was excited to have met such a huge milestone in life but I was also nervous because I knew I didn’t have a job lined up or any job leads.
I went on interview after interview, wrote cover letters, and basically tried to do anything I could to set myself apart from applicants.
Why Is It Important to Set Yourself Apart?
Jobs are competitive no matter what field you are in and regardless of what your credentials are. If you go to school for 8 years to become a doctor and have lots of quality experience, odds are, you’re still going to have to compete with someone else for a job offer.
When applying for jobs in your field, it’s important to make sure you leave a good impression and are memorable. Leaving a good impact and practically outshining all other applicants can help you land the position as long as you meet all the job requirements.
However, you may not always, have time to let your personality shine through or leave a lasting impression. You may not be able to even meet the recruiter face-to-face for an interview if your resume doesn’t stand out to them.
That’s why it’s best to start by creating a resume that sets you apart and showcases your best credentials. I’ll talk about all the must-have components for a winning resume in a future post, but today, I want to cover unique ways to make your resume stand out.
1. Add Testimonials to Your Paper Resume
Have you worked with people in the past who have been pleased with your performance? Be sure to share snippets of the positive work experience on your resume through previous employer reviews.
If a manager or supervisor wrote you a letter of recommendation, odds are, a busy recruiter may not read the entire the entire thing word-for-word or even have a chance to get to it while reviewing all your other applicant materials.
Feel free to take the best 1-2 sentences from the letter of recommendation and add it to your resume. If you have reviews on LinkedIn or even positive feedback a coworker sent you via email one day, consider added it to your resume in a font that will stand out.
You can praise yourself as much as you want, but when someone else recognizes your work and can vouch for your performance, that will speak volumes.
2. Print Your Credentials on Professional Resume Paper
You might not have known this, but professional resume paper is a thing. A few years ago I was studying to become a certified resume writer and attended a conference to learn a ton about the industry and how to help people get jobs.
It came as no surprise to me to hear that presentation is very important not regarding your physical appearance at interviews, but how your resume looks as well.
Professional resume paper is often thicker and firmer than regular computer printer paper. Most top brands sell paper that is 100% cotton fiber so the quality is definitely there and it makes a difference.
It costs anywhere from $7-$15+ for 50-100 sheets so you can print off dozens of copies of your professional-looking resume whenever you need it.
It will be hard for a recruiter to misplace your resume or overlook it in the pile when you’re using professional paper that looks different from everyone else’s. It also shows that you gave extra attention to detail which may seem like a small action but it can leave a big impact.
3. Create a Video Resume
In today’s digital age, sticking to a paper resume may seem quite ‘boring’ in some job fields. Video resumes are rising in popularity since more and more employers are realizing that how a candidate sounds on paper and how they really are doesn’t always match up.
If you are applying for a job online and not using a job board, you can record a quick 60-second introductory video to tell the employer about you and your work experience.
Getting to see your face and snippets of your personality may help employers get a better sense of who you are and how they see you fitting in with the team.
Plus, they most likely won’t forget you. SparkHire is a great site you can use to create a video profile resume. Then, you can simply send employers the link when you apply to a job.
4. Pair it With a Portfolio
If you still want to go the traditional paper resume route and you feel like you’ve done everything you could to use a unique font, color, and layout, you can always try to pair your resume with a portfolio.
Depending on what field you’re looking to work in, having a portfolio on hand to sent to employers with your resume or bring with you to interviews can really set you apart from other applicants.
Since I’m in the journalism and communications fields, creating a portfolio and using it to land jobs was a must for me.
First, I created a digital portfolio to include all my writing clips. Then, I bought a cheap binder, designed a cover page and starting building a physical portfolio. I printed out my best writing samples, laminated them and stuck them in the binder.
I organized my portfolio by creating different tabs for hard news articles, blog posts, feature stories, press releases, and I even included a section for letters of recommendation that I’d received. Bringing the portfolio book with me to an interview actually helped me land my first job post-college after my boss told me no one else brought in a portfolio to their interview.
If you don’t have physical samples of your work, you can always bring in a case study or example of the work you do and the results you’ve been able to generate as a result. If you are applying to be a community event coordinator for example, you can bring in or send photos from past events you’ve hosted, flyers, audience reviews and feedback, etc.
Making your resume stand out is about more than just changing the font for your headings or using the right buzzwords.
You really have to get creative and think outside of the box. Think about what you’d like to see if you were in the recruiter’s position and you were looking at similar resumes each day.
Try to always keep it professional and tasteful no matter what, but don’t be afraid to throw in a little originality to improve your chances of getting called in for an interview or hired for the job.
When was the last time you've updated your resume? Have you ever done any of these things to make your resume stand out?