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  • Writer's pictureTim Buchalka

How to Make Your Resume Stand Out From the Rest

How do you make your resume stand out from the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of other people competing for a job? Let’s talk about that today.

Again, the question was, “How do you make your resume stand out of the crowd?” Because one of the things that you’ll come across when you’re actually looking for a job and applying for jobs is, there’s lots of other people obviously doing the same thing. If you think about it from the other perspective, somebody who’s looking to hire someone, they’ve got to look through these resumes.

One of the key things is to try and make yourself stand out. So how do you actually make yourself stand out? Well firstly, try not to do an obvious thing which is obviously a lot of programmers do. That’s to just grab a template off the internet and that’s just change that slightly. Put in your own personal details and a few other things about any experience and what you’ve studied, and send it through. The danger with that is if it looks very similar to other peoples’ resumes, chances are you’re not going to stand out. Well, in fact, you’re not going to stand out are you?

How are you going to stand out unless somebody’s actually reading through every resume in detail? I’m going to give you a tip right here now about how your resume is viewed by perspective employer, it’s called scanning. They’ll grab your resume, they’ll have a quick look through, and they’re looking for keywords, and something that grabs their attention. If they don’t find that, in their opinion after that quick scan you’re very similar to a lot of other people who have actually applied. You’ll either get binned, or you won’t be taken out of the pile. If you aren’t taken out of the pile chances are it’ll be very hard to stand out and actually get an interview. So you really do need to make yourself stand out.

So first things first, make sure you don’t copy off a template. You know there’s templates out there that you can download, just do a search for resume templates you’ll find hundreds of Microsoft word documents, or whatever. So don’t do that, number one. But secondly, try and focus on what you want the prospective employer to see. Does he really care that you’ve had three jobs that aren’t programming related? Chances are he probably isn’t interested in that. He or she wants to know whether you are a good match for their organisation.

Therefore, try and put that information up front. Focus on the reasons that you think you’re a good match for this organisation. Are you certified? Have you done some certifications? Have you completed some computing courses? Have you looked at GitHub and perhaps found a project and contributed to that project? That should be something you’re focusing on.

Number one, talk about the technologies that you’ve had experience with. These are the types of things that someone scanning through a resume will look at, hopefully that will stand out to them, they can grab it and at least you’ll warrant further attention. So make sure you try and really sell yourself. But focus it again, this is not about you, this is really important, when you’re writing a resume, it’s not about you. It’s about the employer. So write your resume from the employer’s perspective. Just really the easiest way to do it, this is what I used to do when I used to apply for jobs, I used to try and imagine myself as the employer reading my resume.

What am I getting out of this resume? What’s standing out for me? In other words, what I’m saying is, when I’m scanning through that resume to actually want to speak to you. So focus on that. Focus on giving the information that the employer needs. And another thing you can do is try not to make it a 12 page or a 15 page resume. I’ve seen huge resumes. One or two pages is probably the maximum you need. Now, depending on the job, if you’re obviously going for a job that requires all sorts of extensive experience then perhaps you need to pad it out. But I would actually stick to a pretty basic resume. And the other thing I would recommend you do is to tailor the resume for the position you’re actually applying for.

As an example of that, let’s just say you’re applying for three jobs. One job is a Java developer, one is a C# developer, and the third one is a C++ development position. They’re three different languages, and you happen to know these languages, so the best way to do that is not to give them a cookie-cutter generic template, but rather to give them a resume, or I said template, but a resume that is actually really set up for that particular language. So if you’re going for a Java position, a Java entry level position or what ever it is, the word Java should be heavily used at the top of the resume and really really emphasized.

It should be really clear to the person who is reading your resume that you know Java. That’s really the tip here is what I’m trying to say even though it takes a lot of extra work, or can be potentially a lot of extra work from your perspective, if you’re customizing your resume for the position that’s going to give you a greater likelihood at least it’s getting to the next stage where you can present your case so to speak at an interview. Try customizing your resume to fit the position that you’re actually applying for. So all of these things are really trying to just get you to the next step. Keep in mind the purpose of a resume isn’t to get you the job, the purpose of a resume is to get that interview. Once you get to an interview then there’s other techniques you need to start looking at to present well in an interview.

If you focus on that and think the one task of your resume is just to get to that interview, to get noticed, to get someone to take interest in you, you’re half way there. And greatest way of looking at this, the easiest way to maximize your chances, is just to think of this from the employer’s perspective. Once you’ve finished your resume, just before you go to send it out, pretend you’re the employer reading through your resume. Is it an enticing read? Will they be interested in working with you or contacting you once they’ve read the resume? So good luck with it. And focus on that and it will greatly increase your chances of getting the interview. Because I can tell you right now, having read through literally thousands of resumes over the years, most people applying for a job don’t do this. That’s a secret tip there.

I hope that helped. If you’ve got any questions feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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