Bells & Whistles: 5 Formatting Tools to Make Your Resume Stand Out

When you’re on the job hunt, your resume is your first line of offense. Recruiters and hiring managers will take one look at your resume and decide whether or not they should continue reading within a fraction of a second.

Remember: They have hundreds of resumes cross their desk every day, so you have to make sure yours stands out!

How can you do that? Well, one easy way to make your resume look different (and hopefully better) than other candidates is through formatting. Here are a few ways to do that:

Professional headline. Get rid of that old objective statement! Instead, include a professional headline on your resume. Your headline should clearly convey your expertise and skills in order to enable a recruiter or hiring manager to simply glance your resume and know what you’ll bring to the table.

Simplicity. Your resume should be free of clutter. The font you use should be a 11- to 12-point basic one like Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman. Since you will most likely be uploading your resume into an online applicant tracking system, avoid having pictures and make sure there’s plenty of white space for easy reading.

Bullet points. When expanding on your past experiences, use bullet points to make your resume easy to read. This way, you will avoid clutter and the person reading your resume will be able to easily find the necessary information.

Keywords. Recruiting management or applicant tracking software is used by many companies to scan resumes. Using keywords that align with the job description increases the chance of your resume standing out among other applicants. Find appropriate keywords by reading the position description and company website.

PDF conversion. When saving your resume make sure you use both PDF and Word formats. Have a Microsoft Word version for online systems, since it is easier for recruiting software to read this format. However, when sending your resume directly to a hiring manager in an email, send it in PDF format. It’s more universal than Word (as the hiring manager may have a newer or older version of the program than you) and allows for viewing instead of editing.

What would you add to this list?

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