Let’s clarify a few things first. Yes, you should tailor your resume for the particular position for which you’re applying. No, not every industry will be as accepting of a Pinterest portfolio or a Vimeo video in place of a cover letter. But, there are a handful of ways to stand out as the MVP job candidate across all industries, no matter how creative or conservative the field is.
According to career experts we interviewed from coast to coast, these are tips that always impress.
We’re not talking about the douchey insert, “Ah, yes, my father the inventor of Toaster Strudel,” here. We’re talking the mention of big name organizations you may have worked for previously—even if indirectly—as it will show well-respected companies can vouch for you or vet you through.
Cofounder of job-search startup Rolltroll Adam Grealish explains, “Go big. If you worked for a small subsidiary of a big company don’t forget to mention the big and often more notable parent. For better or worse, people like name recognition. It gives a sense of validation or social proof that can help you land that first interview.”
Toot Your Own Horn
C’mon, we’ve all seen your Instagram selfies. You’re not fooling anybody with that slice of humble pie you’re trying to serve in an interview.
Don’t be bashful, and don’t sell yourself short. If you don’t pitch yourself to prove your skills make you the perfect new hire, then who will?
Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders understands that it can be uncomfortable to write about yourself since we’re “naturally humble and don’t want to inflate ourselves. But hiring managers want to know about all the cool features of the product they’re investing in (you!). Let them know exactly how great you are.”
Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Finally fill out the sections of your profile that LinkedIn’s been reminding you about ($20.00 says those percentages of incompletion must be killing you)! But, rounding out your page is only the bare minimum. To kick it up a notch, even with a free account, there is a list of new ways you can get noticed on this professional networking site.
“LinkedIn is still the first place most recruiters go, Hurt says. “You can now upload video, podcasts, images and other examples of your work. I’ve taken advantage of a lot of this as a free member.”
In other words, no excuses. You’ve got the best tools at your disposal free of cost to illustrate your greatness.
Tell a Story
Hiring managers want to see a gradual progression in your career and the anecdotes, trials, and triumphs you’ve gone through to get to this level–much like the plot and climax of a bestseller.
Do your best to sell yourself by giving them colorful details that will captivate their attention and make them truly understand what you’ve accomplished and what you intend to provide to their company through examples. Not sure how to do this?
Career expert Susan Hay recommends doing this: “under each job, have accomplishment stories–as specific as you can be in less than two lines. These are the stories you want someone to ask you about in an interview, so make them interesting.”
Add/Omit Your GPA
To put your GPA on your resume or not to put your GPA on your resume? That is the anxiety-inducing question. Here’s the litmus test, generally speaking, Hay says to use in order to make this daunting position.
“If your GPA is above a 3.0, put it on your resume, but unless it’s above a 3.5 take it off after you’re five years into your career. If it’s above 3.5 you can leave it on for up to ten years. After ten years, no matter how good your GPA is, it looks foolish on your resume. “
Check for an Echo
Reread your resume aloud to ensure it truly sounds like you–even if you hired a writer or had your resume written by your university’s career center.
Mark Anthony Dyson, MAEd/AET of The Voice of Job Seekers warns that if you use big words that you don’t actually use regularly, find other words, or risk coming off inexperienced and insecure.
“Employers can see right through the way you sound on paper and a phone interview if the vocab doesn’t match.”
And, that’s just embarrassing.
Clean Out Your Work History
Are you one of those people who have a two-paged resume with a list of jobs dating back to your babysitting days? Chyeah, it’s time to purge your Work History section.
Kelly Studer of Career Stylist recommends taking off the experiences you never want to do again or are mediocre. “Don’t sell it,” she urges. “Just because you’ve done it, doesn’t mean it belongs on your resume. You don’t want to be hired for something you hate or never want to do again.”
What do all of these tips have in common? The duty of the job candidate to connect the dots for the hiring manager. Don’t expect them to come to the conclusion that you’re perfect for the job on their own, using all of the hidden messages and vague references you sprinkled into your job application. Spell it out for them. Be bold. And on that note, remember that it’s ok to humanize your resume a bit to make it (and you) memorable.
Studer offers this final tip: “You want to give a flavor of who you are. I’m a big fan of putting personal information at the bottom of a resume, but quirky! Not like, ‘I like golf, yoga, and scuba diving.’ It could be more like, ‘I make a mean chicken cordon bleu. I’ve watched Bourne Identity more than 100 times, and I’m an aspiring accordion player.’ I would never forget that resume.”