How to Make Your Resume Stand Out to Hiring Managers

By Kaitlin Hurtado on April 19, 2018

Knowing how to make your resume stand out to catch the attention of hiring managers can be the one thing you feel like have control over in the search for a job. You may feel lost on where to start out or hopeless after a few (or many) missed job opportunities, but finding out what you do have control over in the job application process will allow you to feel even more confident in your capabilities to get hired for the job position you are seeking.

When you make an effort to make your resume stand out, it will help you build confidence in your capabilities and allow you to be one step closer to successfully catching the attention of a hiring manager. While you may not be present to win over a hiring manager or recruiter, you resume always will be in a job application. When a hiring manager can’t ask you to explain your work experience or what you are capable of doing, let your resume speak toward you.

Review your current resume – or get started on building your first resume – by considering how you can make your resume stand out to the next hiring manager and get you one step closer to reaching your desired job position.

crumpled pieces of paper and glasses on notepad

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Start out by brainstorming 

You definitely do not want to have a resume that is several pages long just because you threw everything piece of experience you have under your belt onto paper. It’s one way to lose the interest of hiring managers when they have to dig or close read your resume to find out if you are actually right for the job. You want to make sure your resume lists out what is necessary for the job position you are going for in order to make your resume stand out to hiring managers.

If you are not quite sure on where to start out – list out the positions you have held in the past. It may be time spent in a volunteer organization, a summer internship, or other part-time jobs. While your experience (or lack of) might make you feel reluctant to go after your desired job position, try to take any bit of experience and turn it into your advantage. An extensive amount of time as a part-time fast food worker may not seem like it has anything to do with the office job you are going after, but brainstorm different ways that your time as a fast food part-timer will help you fill the job position as needed.

Think of the responsibilities you had and how you used your skills to accomplish and fill the role you needed to. Taking orders isn’t the most attractive thing to put on your resume – but turn those experience into other skills of communication, interpersonal skills, and so on. Make your resume stand out to hiring managers by making the most of your previous experience.

Focus on what you have done rather than what you could do 

You can spend plenty of space on your resume writing out skills that would help you qualify for the job position that hiring managers are looking to fill, but to truly make your resume stand out to hiring managers, focus on detailing what you have done in the past. Turning the focus on what you have done serves multiple functions. You will get to showcase your past experience by detailing what you have done in previous positions and will be able to back up any skills that your resume details when you have a statement of what you have done in previous positions.

Instead of advertising your skills blindly, put down concrete proof of your accomplishments to back up whatever your resume advertises. If possible, quantify whatever accomplishments you can. List out the number of clients you brought to a previous company, quantify the number of sales you had in a specific amount of times. If you are able to put down numbers on your resume, you can help make your resume stand out to hiring managers as they can see proof of what you are capable of.

By highlighting your accomplishments in your resume, you are showing hiring managers that you are capable of getting the work of the job position done instead of just writing you are capable of it.

Include a cover letter

Remember when teachers would make you include a front page on long reports or important essays? Their function was to give the first look at what the rest of the essay entailed and who it was by. The same idea should go for your resume. You want to make your resume stand out to hiring managers by giving them something that would catch their attention from a start – include a cover letter.

While you aren’t there to make the ultimate first impression to hiring managers, your cover letter could be. A cover letter is essentially an introduction to your resume and should effectively express your interest in the job you are applying for.

Try not to overwhelm the cover letter with excessive bragging of your skills or experience – you can do that in your resume! Make your resume stand out by tailoring the cover letter to the company you are applying for and do research. Figure out what the company stands for, what environment they make for their employees, and so on. Include these details in your cover letter by detailing how you can make the company better by being as specific to the company as possible instead of going the general route and saying you are a good worker.

Attaching a perfected cover letter is a great way to make your resume stand out to hiring managers.

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

Tailor your resume to the job

Make your resume stand out by making your stand out in a pool full of applicants. Yes, you will want to exceed in a set of skills in order to full a variety of positions but hiring managers will be looking for an applicant that can fit a specific position with a specific set of skills. Make sure that your resume is tailored to the position that you are applying for – edit out experience that isn’t particularly helpful to the position or add experience that would actually help you excel in the position.

You may think that putting all the experience you have on your resume will help you make your resume stand out and help you secure your job, but it will just end up making your resume unnecessarily lengthy and make it even harder for a hiring manager to fish through your lengthy resume to find what actually pertains to the job they are hiring for. A hiring manager looking to fill a position for an office job won’t want to read half a page detailing several summers spent babysitting neighborhood kids when it brings nothing spectacular to the position.

While your resume may have worked for the last job position you applied for, it may not exactly work this specific job position. It may be the same job position/description as the last, but every company varies when it comes to their work environment, company values, and so on. The hiring manager is going to be hiring with their company in mind and it’s important to remember that when writing your resume for different job applications. Even if it’s just editing out a line or two, or including another piece of experience you normally wouldn’t include – try tailoring your resume to the specific job position/company you are applying for as much as possible.

Rather than just selling yourself as an ideal employee for a number of jobs, you want to make your resume stand out to relay that you alone are the perfect fit for the specific position the hiring manager is looking for. Putting in the extra effort to make sure that your position reflects the amount of genuine interest you have in the job and be another factor in making your resume stand out to hiring managers.

how to make your resume stand out infographic

Infographic by Kaitlin Hurtado via

Include a header

A header will come in handy especially if you end up choosing not to include a cover letter. Maybe you didn’t have enough time to type up the perfect letter if you stumble across a competitive position last minute. A header at the top of your resume will serve as a quick introduction to yourself and your capabilities by including personal information and a branding statement.

An effective headline should include your name, address, and contact information (mailing address and telephone number). Along with your personal information, include a branding statement that advertises you and your capabilities in a short, yet effective statement. An effective header will help make your resume stand out to hiring managers when they know what you are bringing to the table at the first glance of your resume. Just as you would for a cover letter and resume, make sure your header is tailored to the specific job position you are applying for, if possible.

Don’t over customize your resume with fonts and colors

When thinking of ways you can make your resume stand out to hiring managers, you may think a well-customized resume can do the job. You may want to use “fancy” fonts to make your resume more fancy or different colors to make different lines stand out among others, but you essentially will decrease your resume’s readability to hiring managers.

A cursive font on a restaurant menu may make its entrees seem more appetizing, but for hiring managers, a resume full of a cursive font can make them want to toss your resume if they are struggling to read it. Try going for a more simple font that is easy to read. The easier your resume is easier to read, the more focus and attention a hiring manager can apply to your actual accomplishments and capabilities. While it’s acceptable to change up whether or not something is italicized or in all caps, you want to make sure your resume is still “clean” in the sense that it is easy to read for hiring managers.

Remember it’s your experience and skill set that is important to hiring managers, not how “pretty” you can make your resume.

Always proofread or get a second opinion

Once you’ve spent plenty of time working on perfecting your resume, the last thing you may want to do is to spend even more time scrutinizing it for any mistakes. However, you don’t want to make all of your efforts to make your resume stand out fail just because of a few spelling errors or grammatical mistakes.

Run through your resume and cover letter a few more times. Check for spelling. If you rearranged the order of your resume during your editing, make sure the flow of your resume is intact and that there aren’t repeats of certain lines or lines that are out of order. If you want to go one step further, ask a friend to review your resume and cover letter for you. Having a second pair of eyes that haven’t spent the same amount of time staring at your resume will ensure that even more possible mistakes are caught before they reach the eyes of the hiring manager.

Asking a friend to review your resume will also help you get another opinion on your resume. Tell them about the company and position you are applying for and ask them if your resume will catch the attention of the company’s hiring manager. Ask them what part of your resume works, or what part you still need to work on.

Resumes can be the first thing that hiring managers can look at in the job application, so it is important to make your resume stand out to hiring managers. By editing your resume to the best of your ability, you will help your resume make a great first impression on hiring managers even if you are unable to do so.

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