Make Your Resume Stand Out

You have found a job posting for the perfect position! You don’t know anyone at the company and your best networking efforts aren’t producing timely results. How do you make your resume stand out from those of the other 50 applicants who applied through the company website?

Add a Summary (or Profile) below your contact information that tells the reader in 3-6 short phrases who you are and what skills you bring to the open position. This section focuses on your skills and how you can solve a problem for the employer. This differs from an Objective which concentrates on what you want. While employers may care if their job helps you achieve an objective, their primary purpose is to fill a need or solve a problem. Effective resumes are employer-centric.

It is generally agreed that recruiters spend less than 20 seconds reading a resume. The goal of the Summary is to grab the reader’s attention and encourage him/her to read the remainder. It is also a place to showcase soft skills.

Follow these steps to write a Summary:

1)      Review your resume and pick out the 3-6 primary skills you want to showcase. These skills should:

  • Relate directly to the job you’re applying to
  • Briefly summarize the highlights of your resume

2)      Customize – Mirror the language and skills of the job description.

3)      Language – Use active verbs and powerful language. Do not use first person pronouns (I, me, mine).

4)      Grammar – Short phrases are easier to read than complete sentences.

5)      Optional skills section – If you want to showcase skills, like software or other technical programs or skills unique to your job, they can be included as a short, bulleted list, placed in columns at the end of the Summary.

A sample Summary for an experienced event planner might read:

Event planner with 5+ years producing high-profile, non-profit fundraising and promotional events for 500+ guests. Proven ability to follow budgets, manage committees and volunteers and comply with risk management procedures. Attentive listener with ability to resolve and mediate employee and client concerns. Detail-oriented, organized, creative multi-tasker who thrives on new challenges.

The Summary naturally flows from a well-crafted resume. If you are an alum who needs help with a resume, email it to alumnicareers@du.edu for guidance. Students can make an appointment with their career coach.

By Cindy Hyman
Cindy Hyman Director of Alumni Career & Professional Development Cindy Hyman