Your resume is sometimes the first thing people see, even before they get a chance to meet you.

Internet job boards and online job postings are a popular way to apply for jobs – 52% of applicants for jobs come from job boards. 

Because of this, it’s so important to make sure your resume is in top shape. You want the first thing potential employers see to be impactful.

Whether you are starting from scratch or you are sprucing up your current resume, we’ve got 5 tips to help make your resume stand out.

#1: Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and correct and that all jobs are listed for the past 7-10 years.

This can make or break your job searching efforts. Each time you submit or send your resume, make sure you know that your phone and email are spelled and typed out correctly. It would be unfortunate to find out too late that your contact information was wrong when you submitted your resume to open jobs.

We say that 7 years of work history is acceptable because, generally speaking, most people and their job experiences can fit within this time frame. If you held a volunteer position, a non-applicable internship, or have older work experience than that you are ok to leave it off. 

The only exception would be if it directly relates to the job you are currently applying for. Then, feel free to leave a space for a short description and the dates in which you worked there. 

#2: Keep your resume to a maximum of two pages. 

Too long of a resume can risk being looked at like you added unnecessary fluff and will honestly be too long to read (that is unless you carry patents, publications, or have specific awards and certificates that pertain to a specific skill set). If you can make your resume clear, concise, and one page you’ll find that HR personnel everywhere will be singing your praises. 

Include all relevant information and skills and cut down (or even cut out) skills that don’t relate to the job you are applying for. If you feel you may have to edit your resume for a few different jobs, keep one master file on your computer of your comprehensive resume and copies of it for different types of jobs you may be applying for. 

So how do you decide what stays and what goes? First, keep all relevant experiences and jobs on your resume. If it aligns with what job or role you are applying for, it’s important to have on there! 

If you have trade awards or specific skills that apply to your desired position, keep that information on your resume.

Try and be as concise and short as possible when listing job roles and duties as you can expand on these in-person, if necessary. 

Don’t worry about making your header and your design too flashy – a modern and clean resume is easier to read and looks very professional. Don’t add unnecessary graphics, text, or words to the header or footer.

#3: Tailor your experience to make it relevant to the job you are applying for.

If you have a few job roles that could relate to the job you are applying for, you can certainly position your skills in a way that aligns with what you can do for a potential employer.

Don’t make up skills when tailoring your resume, but do elaborate and expand on certain skills or previous job roles you’ve had that align with the job you are looking to apply for.

When you tailor your skill set to match your desired job, consider a few things. Does your resume now answer what it is you do? Does your resume clearly convey that you can do the required job? Am I using the same information found in the job posting so it helps me speak to how I am the perfect fit for the company?

Work to answer those questions and you’ll soon find out if your resume is tailored in a way that perfectly shows how great you’d be for the job.

When you tailor your resume to be aligned with the job you are applying for, it shows extra thought and care was put into understanding the role and how you’d be a perfect fit for it. Further, if you update your resume onto any job site your resume becomes optimized to what recruiters are looking for – making it even easier to find you! 

#4: Don’t forget your cover letter with your specific objectives, suited to the job you are applying for.

This is an often overlooked step to submitting your resume. 

Create a specific cover letter to send along with your resume to catch the attention of the person viewing resumes. It also can explain, in further detail, why you are a great fit for the company and position in a way that a resume just cannot. But don’t create one generic cover letter and assume it works for all jobs! The cover letter should be specific to the job and the organization so those tasked with recruiting and hiring can get a better understanding of who you are.

A cover letter also serves an important purpose. It allows a recruiter or someone in HR to take two candidates with very similar backgrounds and find ways to differentiate between them. This can mean the difference between a call back for an interview or not. 

When writing a cover letter, follow a few simple rules. First, address a specific person at the organization if you can. This makes it personal and shows that you took time to research the business. 

Next, write a strong first paragraph to grab the recruiter’s attention. This can include a strong objective, why you are a perfect fit, or any awards or accolades you’ve won that tie directly into your relevant experience.

Highlight how you are a great fit for both the job and the company next. Include any tie that you feel is relevant to the business, the mission, vision, or values and highlight specific (yet short) examples of how you align with that. 

Lastly, thank the reader for taking the time to review your information and provide up to date ways in which to contact you (that match your contact information on your resume). Make it easy for them to follow up with you! 

Try and keep your cover letter to one or two short paragraphs if possible. It makes it easier to read and is respectful of the readers time. 

#5: List your experience in reverse chronological order (your recent experience should be first!)

Reverse ordering your work experience allows a recruiter or HR director to quickly see your last held position and what you did there. Then they can work backwards and review your work history to see if it aligns with what they are looking for.

Resumes get about 10 good seconds of view time before they are either put in a “look again” or
“no thanks” pile so ensuring your most recent work experience is first allows the viewer to get a quick view of your most recent and perhaps most relevant work experience. 

Putting your work history with oldest first may confuse the person reviewing resumes and doesn’t read as well as reverse chronological order.

Making an impact through your resume is a great way to wow someone before you even meet them, so spending time making sure it’s polished and perfect is time well spent!