How to Make Your Resume Stand Out and Land Your Dream Job

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March 30, 2023
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19
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In today's dynamic and competitive job market, learning how to make your resume stand out is the key to landing your dream job.

The good news is with a bit of effort and strategic thinking, you can create a memorable, eye-catching, strong resume that grabs attention immediately. In fact, many tried-and-tested strategies can help you make a lasting impression, even in a crowded field of applicants. 

So let's get into it and explore how to create a standout resume that'll be the key to getting your foot in the door and landing an interview.

What is a resume?

A resume is a critical tool for job seekers that summarizes your education, work experience, skills, achievements, and any other relevant information that might impress a potential employer. It's essentially a snapshot of your background and expertise. And it's an incredibly influential marketing tool when looking for a job—often the first thing an employer sees about you.

The most crucial aspect of creating your resume? Designing a document that presents you in the best light, stands out from the competition, and grabs the attention of those reading it.

What do most resumes include?

Before we get into some strategies to make your resume stand out, let’s walk through some key resume sections potential employers are likely looking for.

Typically, resumes include contact information, a professional summary or resume objective, work experience, education, skills, achievements, and any certifications. 

You see, the purpose of your resume is to showcase your skills, relevant experience, and qualifications to potential employers to make a strong case for why you are the best candidate for the job. So while the content and order of these sections may vary depending on you and the job you're applying for, including these critical sections can help ensure that your resume is comprehensive, professional, and effective.

What does a good resume look like?

Aside from including all the information highlighting why you're the right fit for a job, your resume should look good! 

A great resume has a clean and professional appearance. It should be easy to read and scan, with clear headings and sections. The font should be legible and consistent throughout, and the text should be aligned properly. 

Your resume should also use bullet points to highlight important information and achievements rather than paragraphs of text. And it's important to use a resume format appropriate for your industry and level of experience, so researching templates and examples can be helpful. 

Overall, the appearance of a good resume should be visually appealing and make a positive impression on the reader, like this one below!

How to Make a Resume Stand Out Visually

Visual presentation is one way to make your resume stand out. By making a few simple tweaks to the layout, fonts, and overall design, you can create appeal and grab attention.

Pay attention to simple details like margins, fonts, and headers to create a professional, easy-to-read resume that catches the reader's eye. You should also consider using a resume template to add a touch of visual interest. But be sure to choose a design that complements your skills and experiences, is appropriate for the job you're applying for, and is optimized for an applicant tracking system (ATS). 

So what are some key elements you can focus on to enhance visual appeal?

Margins

Let's start with the basics! Your resume margins should be set at one inch on all sides of the page (or pages). 

If your achievement bullets or other sections require more space, you can adjust them to 0.5 inches, but no smaller. Keep in mind, you don't want your content to appear cramped, difficult to read, or overwhelming for potential employers.

Fonts

There are a lot of unique fonts out there that add complexity and intricate detail to design work. But, when it comes to the best fonts for your resume, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind. 

  • The font you choose should align with the role you’re applying to. For example, if you're applying for positions that are less creative in nature, such as engineer, IT manager, architect, human resources manager, or data scientist, it's best practice to use a font that appears more professional, like Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Georgia. If your profession is on the more creative side, so let’s say, animator, graphic designer, or video editor, you can incorporate fonts like Didot, Lato, or Montserrat.
  • Except for your name and headers, the text in your resume should stay between a 10- and 12-point size. 
  • It’s best to avoid extremely decorative, thin or light, heavily italicized, and overly thick fonts.

Headings

Resume headings are another key design element that can attract the right attention. Great headings will identify the resume components often expected and optimize the document for ATS. 

So what headings should be included?

  • A header with your name and contact information
  • A tailored short professional bio that speaks to your capabilities as they relate to the job you're applying for
  • Your work experience (If you're creating a resume with no experience, you can omit this section and list your achievements under your education.)
  • Any education
  • Relevant skills and interests

Template

Resume templates are used to enhance the visual appeal and comprehensibility. Templates often incorporate fonts, colors, and graphic design to create an appealing structure.

A well-designed template will also help highlight important sections like your experience and skills, making them easier for potential employers to spot quickly.

When choosing your resume template, consider the industry you're applying in and check out some examples to see what aligns with that industry and your personality. 

Explore 850+ standout resume examples across a variety of jobs, industries, specialities, and more with Teal's comprehensive list. Then use our AI Resume Builder to customize your resume templates—taking the time, guesswork, and research off your plate so you can focus on other aspects of your job search, like interview prep and networking! 

Format and use professional templates within Teal's AI Resume Builder to make your resume stand out.
Format and use professional templates within Teal's AI Resume Builder to make your resume stand out.

How to Make a Resume Stand Out to Hiring Managers

When it comes to getting hired for your dream job, one of the most crucial steps is making your resume stand out to hiring managers specifically. With so many applicants vying for positions, they're often inundated with numerous resumes for a single job opening. 

So what can you do? 

Well, your resume needs to be memorable to increase your chances of getting face to face. So let's explore some sure-fire ways to grab their attention and increase your chances of landing that interview—uniquely, creatively, and effectively.

Understand What The Hiring Manager is Looking For

All companies are unique, so they often look for different qualifications in candidates that align with their specific needs. Understanding what a hiring manager is looking for starts with carefully reviewing the job description and the company's culture and values.

A good job ad should provide specific details about the role's responsibilities, qualifications, and desired skills and experience. It's essential to pay attention to the language used in the job posting and the requirements listed to get an idea of what the hiring manager is looking for.

Additionally, researching the company's values, mission statement, and culture can provide insights into the type of person the company seeks. A company's website, social media presence, and press releases can give you a sense of core values, company culture, and how they present themselves to the public.

Include a Target Job Title

Your target job title, also called your resume title, is located near the very top of your resume. You should always have one, and it should also reflect the description of the job you're applying for, whether it's an office job or not. That means if you're applying for multiple positions, you should not have the same resume target title on each document.

While your current or previous position is significant to your work history, it's also important for your target job title to correspond with the job you're pursuing.

For example, let's say you're a copywriter; some target titles with descriptions that align closely with that role may be Content Writer, Marketing Writer, Creative Writer, or Content Strategist. By modifying your title to one that’s more specific and closely related, you'll make a better first impression with a potential employer and increase your chances of standing out as someone who understands the role and responsibilities! 

And remember, if you've never held that target job title, you can still make a connection to the rest of your resume by including relevant keywords and emphasizing skills, certifications, projects, and achievements that fit the job description of the position you're seeking.

Add Skills and Proficiencies

Your skills and proficiencies demonstrate what you bring to the table that goes beyond direct job responsibilities. 

Hard or technical skills are measurable and specific to your job. These are skills like data analysis, affiliate marketing, and Salesforce or WordPress. On the other hand, soft skills are those less-measurable, more universal interpersonal skills employers often seek, such as teamwork, communication, or strategic problem-solving. 

But remember, regardless of the particular skill, it's essential to craft an attention-grabbing skills section with proficiencies that are relevant to a professional setting, and align with the role you're applying for to stand out as someone qualified for a position.

Show Measurable Results

While hiring managers need to see your skills, education, and work history, it's crucial to remember they need to see your impact on a company, too.

According to LinkedIn, presenting quantitative metrics (numbers!) has a significantly more notable impact than outlining your job duties and responsibilities. Why? That data demonstrates your performance and potential to deliver those same results for another company.

For example, it’s fantastic to say you optimized a marketing email sequence, but what was the impact? To demonstrate the measurable results as well as the process of how you got to those results, you might say something like:

Increased onboarding sequence CTR by 8.3% and conversion by 5.4%, leveraging user behavior analysis to create tailored content addressing product adoption and usage.

The version above shows the direct impact of your work in a measurable way, making it easy for potential employers to understand the awesome results you can produce. 

Ensure it’s Concise

If you’re wondering, “How long should a resume be” you aren’t alone! Gone are the days of including every single detail of every role you’ve held. 

At Teal, we recommend keeping your resume to one page, especially if you’re early in your career. After 7-10 years, it might be time to add a second page. 

In addition to the formatting suggestions for margins, fonts, and templates above, what are some ways to ensure you create a solid resume that stands out but is also concise? 

Tailor Your Resume to The Job Description 

One of the most impactful ways to stand out as the ideal candidate you are is to tailor your resume to the job description. 

Tailoring your resume demonstrates you understand (and are qualified for) the role you’re applying to. 

So what's the best way to do this? Include keywords and important language from the job description in your professional summary and achievements. You can use AI tools like Teal and ChatGPT for job applications for repetitive tasks like pulling keywords from the job posting. 

The Teal Job Application Tracker and AI-powered Resume Builder pull the keywords from your saved jobs, so you can easily incorporate them into your resume. Sign up for a free Teal account today to see for yourself!

Teal’s AI Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.
Teal’s AI Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.

Make Your Resume Stand Out by Customizing it to Any Job

With our Resume to Job Description Match tool, you can easily determine how well-aligned your resume is to a specific job.

Simply add the text from your resume into the field below and get a customized match score with recommendations.

Try it yourself.

Add a Custom Cover Letter

According to Zippia, 38% of hiring managers say including a cover letter makes them more likely to pay attention to your application, and 45% say that not submitting one will potentially get your application rejected.

So what’s the best way to submit a cover letter?

Well, if you have the right tools, a personalized cover letter will grab attention by using the keywords and language from the job description to resonate with the reader. If you’re applying for several positions, this might sound like a lot of work. But it doesn’t need to be. 

The Teal AI Resume Builder has built-in AI functionality that creates personalized, AI-generated cover letters with the click of a button. And you can use it for every letter you submit.

Review with a Keen Eye

Reviewing your resume with a keen eye and making strategic adjustments to ensure it's error free can increase your chances of catching a hiring manager's attention.

Start by checking for typos, grammatical errors, or formatting issues that could negatively impact you—tools like Grammarly or Quillbot AI can help you do this quickly and easily. 

Additionally, read your content aloud. Is it clear? Is your language consistent? Are you using the same voice throughout?

Finally, make sure that your target title, professional summary, and accomplishments are correctly tailored to the job you're applying for, and highlight the keywords relevant to the role.

Follow up With the Hiring Manager After Your Submission

After you submit your resume, it's important to understand how to follow up on a job application with a potential employer to stand out from other candidates. 

A good rule of thumb is to send a follow-up email once a week for three weeks. This timeframe gives the hiring manager plenty of time to review and respond to your initial application while demonstrating your continued interest in the position. 

When you send your follow-up email, attach your resume and keep your follow-up message brief and professional.

Within Job Application Tracker are communication templates to use as a starting point for a follow up email after applying for a job. Make sure to tailor it to the specific role.

Use communication templates within Teal’s Job Application Tracker to follow up after applying for a job.
Use communication templates within Teal’s Job Application Tracker to follow up after applying for a job.

Create a Standout Resume Today

Once you understand how to make your resume stand out, it's time to start crafting the best resume to land your dream job.

A tool like the Teal AI Resume Builder can help you quickly and easily optimize your resume's appearance by customizing elements like your font and template. You can also use the AI functionality to tailor your professional summary and achievements to include keywords from specific job descriptions and so much more.

So don’t hesitate! Sign up for Teal for free today to get started and create a winning resume that stands out from the crowd.

Frequently Asked Questions

What specific elements on a resume typically catch an employer's attention?

Employers often look for a clear and concise summary of your skills and experiences, relevant job titles, quantifiable achievements, and any unique qualifications or certifications. Tailoring your resume to the job description by using keywords from the posting can also make it stand out. Ensuring the layout is professional and easy to read is crucial for making a strong first impression.

How can I effectively showcase my soft skills on my resume?

To highlight your soft skills, integrate them into your experience descriptions by providing examples of how you've successfully used them in the workplace. For instance, describe a project where your communication skills led to a positive outcome or how your problem-solving abilities resolved a challenging situation. This shows employers how you apply these skills in a practical context.

Is it beneficial to include a personal branding statement on my resume?

Yes, a personal branding statement can be beneficial as it provides a snapshot of who you are as a professional and what you bring to the table. This brief statement should encapsulate your unique value proposition, core strengths, and career goals, helping you to stand out by giving employers a compelling reason to read on and consider you for the position.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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